11 + Non-verbal Reasoning

11+ non-verbal reasoning is often used as a neutral way of testing aptitude levels in children. It does not depend on any prior knowledge, unlike maths where a question will expect a certain familiarity with multiplication tables, or fractions, for example, and therefore is favoured in tests where a candidate's potential to think logically and recognise patterns is sought. Furthermore, because the questions are pictorial they do not demand a strong command of the English language, thus are also suitable for those for whom English is not a strong skill.

Non-verbal reasoning book

Non-verbal reasoning is not part of the National Curriculum in state primary schools, and this style of assessment may feel very alien to children who have not seen it before. Some children will pick up the logic and patterns used in the question types very easily, whereas for others these will pose a considerable challenge. These tests are often used in 11+ testing, however, and therefore familiarity with the different question types used within non-verbal reasoning tests may be critical.

The scope and content of 11+ non-verbal reasoning testing differs across the UK, so it is important to establish if this will be tested at the school your child is aiming for. If it is used, non-verbal reasoning questions typically test ability to:

  • Process graphic or pictorial information
  • Apply logical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Use spatial awareness – how objects relate to each other in space
  • Find and follow patterns and rules
  • Apply maths skills – rotation, reflection and symmetry
  • Work systematically