NVR - Choosing a Shape to Complete a Set (1)

Example – On the left are two figures that have something in common. Which of the remaining five figures is most like the figures on the left?


What might they be looking for? The first thing to do is run through what the two figures on the left have in common. We might find that some elements are relevant in our answering the question but others may be red herrings. It’s also worth noting what is different as this may save us work later.

Note that the main shapes are four-sided but not identical, even taking rotation into account. They do, however, have symmetry – they both have rotational and reflective symmetry. They have lines running through them from corner to corner but not in the same directions in both shapes. They cross at ninety degrees to each other. The little shapes at the ends of the lines are identical at top and bottom but are not the same on each line.

Now we can present the information in a table:

Shape Four sided, symmetrical main shape Lines with same object at each end Lines through corners Lines intersect at ninety degrees
A No Yes Yes Yes
B No No Yes No
C No Yes No No
D Yes* Yes Yes No
E No Yes No No

As usual, it’s crazy to expect your child to write a table out during a test; this has to be used to explain things to a child who does not understand but one who can pass this sort of test will need to be able to do everything mentally after a while.

Now, let’s look back to the results – which of the five shapes has the most in common with the two initial shapes? It appears to a choice between ‘a’ and ‘d’ as they share three of the four characteristics; the other symbols only tick one box each and can be discounted. Shape ‘d’ is four sided, symmetrical (if you rotate it, it will appear back on itself after 180 degrees) but the lines do not intersect at ninety degrees. Shape ‘a’ has not got four sides and the lines go through the inner corners rather than the outer points. We need to decide – I would say the main shape is much more important than the angle of the bisecting lines so the answer is ‘d’.

Technique tip:

Always tell your child to pick the obvious over the obscure. There is usually something quite clear-cut which will just need finding. If in doubt, use any apparent information, however obscure.

Go to the next Non Verbal Reasoning working example - Choosing a Shape to Complete a Set (2)

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