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11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Similar Shapes | Shapes
Don't worry - you don't have to choose from 9 shapes, just 4 or 5.

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

This is the second illustration in this section on Similar Shapes. In the first, we were choosing the odd one out from a set. This time, we are choosing a shape which is most similar to others. It’s the same idea as the Odd One Out questions, only reversed.

I like to call these types of question Choosing a Shape to Complete a Set, but you’ll also hear them referred to as Similar Shapes.

How Are These Kinds of Question Posed in The Exam?

Candidates are shown two shapes or symbols which share some common features. They are also shown a choice of options (four or five) and asked to decide which one of these is the most similar to the shapes on the left.

It’s all about spotting the common feature in the first two shapes, and then choosing the option which shares it. Let’s look at some examples:

Example One

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?


This first example is at the easy end of things, so I won’t spend a long time explaining the problem.

It’s obvious that there are four sides to each shape in the first pair, but all of the second set appear to have the same. However, shape ‘c’ has rounded corners so that seems improbable as an answer.

The only other thing that the first shapes have in common is that they are both squares, albeit one is turned on its side. Of the second set of shapes, only ‘d’ is a square. The answer can’t be ‘b’ as it does not have the key properties of a square – four ninety-degree angles. Also, ‘e’ lacks another key element of a square – all lines must be the same length. The answer is ‘d’.

A variant on this is the idea of some shapes being 'regular' and you get asked to find others. A regular shape has sides of the same length and angles of the same number of degrees. A square is regular; an equilateral triangle is regular. A rectangle, having longer sides and shorter sides, is not.

We associate hexagons and other polygons with being regular but, of course, any six-sided figure is a hexagon, it just isn't regular. In the example above, only answer 'd' is regular; shape 'b' has similar side lengths but different angles while 'e' has similar angles but varying side lengths.

Okay, now you’ve got the idea, let’s have another example:

Example Two

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?


Again, it’s a good idea to decide what the first two symbols have in common before starting.

Firstly, each main shape is dashed and has three shapes inside, one of which is black. The position of the black shape is not the same so is not relevant.

There is no shape in common between the two symbols, so they appear random. However, there is a small version of the main shape in each of the symbols; this is drawn with a solid outline and is flipped top to bottom.

Now we have some details of what is required and what isn’t, we can discount some answers.

Answer ‘b’ has a dotted outline rather than a dashed one – encourage your child to look for the main things first as they might fail to see the wood for the trees.

Answer ‘c’ has no black shape in so is not right.

Finally, we have to look at the more subtle similarities between the initial shapes. We need to have a flipped-over version of the main shape inside it, with a solid outline. The heart shape ‘a’ has a small heart in it but it isn’t flipped over. The main shape of ‘d’ does not reappear in the inside of ‘d’. This means the answer must be ‘e’ – indeed there is a trapezium inside the main shape, and it is upside-down compared to that main shape.

Sample Tests

Okay, so now you know how Similar Shapes questions are posed in the exam. You may wish to try your hand at some of them. If so, you’ll find 7 Similar Shapes quizzes in the Non-Verbal Reasoning section of the Education Quizzes site. Alternatively, you can follow these links to each quiz:

Similar Shapes 1

Similar Shapes 2

Similar Shapes 3

Similar Shapes 4

Similar Shapes 5

Similar Shapes 6

Similar Shapes 7

Before you try them out though, you might want to take a look at our next illustration. This looks at a slightly more complicated form these questions can take – finding a match for multiple characteristics. See you there!

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