11 Plus Forum Non-Verbal Reasoning

Non-Verbal Reasoning testing as part of the 11 Plus Exam process has been around for a few years although not all areas use these tests- check what 11 plus exam is used in your area or target school.

Non-Verbal Reasoning exams involve the spotting of patterns within a series of shapes. There are a number of standard question formats children can work through which will teach them the core skills that are necessary.

As Non-Verbal Reasoning is not taught in schools it is quite normal for parents (or tutors) to help their children understand what is required. As this is a cognitive test some familiarisation of formats is useful and doing a few timed tests will help, but tutoring will not deliver a huge uplift in performance in the same way as it can do with subjects with a more complex set of core skills (Maths and English as examples).

If we were to identify the core mistakes made when preparing for Non-Verbal Reasoning they would be as follows:

  • Starting too early. There’s a limited uplift which can be delivered and starting too early takes time away from the more important and difficult preparation areas of Maths and English.
  • Doing too many timed tests. With Non-Verbal Reasoning doing too many tests can be counter-productive because the potential for uplift is limited.
  • Using online tests as a core resource. Online tests have their place but children who use them a great deal tend to stop thinking and concentrating properly and guessing tends to take over. This produces haphazard results and leads to a decline in confidence.

Our 11 Plus forum has lots of useful information but there is more on the main site. You can for instance weigh up which of the four main preparation options to use, or you could access our free preparation guides which show you how to structure preparation at home and what books to use or you could use the site to help you think about which books your child could read.


Our 11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning forum aims to answer all the most common questions parents have.

11 Plus Non-Verbal Reasoning Forum contents

In the Forum you’ll find answers to the following questions. We want to focus on questions which all parents will find useful, which is why we don’t include very niche questions. If you have a question that you feel lots of other parents might also have please ask us using the form provided.

When to start NVR preparation

How can parents help?

Which schools help with NVR?

Why are NVR tests included?

How to structure NVR preparation

How many timed tests to do

How to get off a plateau of results

    If you have questions which we have not addressed in our forum pages, please feel free to submit them via the form provided below.

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