This penultimate section of our 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning exam illustrations looks at Similar Shapes. There are two main ways these kinds of question appear – ones in which candidates must find shapes which are most like each other (which we’ll look at in the next two articles), and ones in which they have to find the shape which is most dislike the others in a set (odd ones out).

Whichever form they take, these kinds of question are all about spotting similarities between shapes and patterns and then looking for ones which either share those characteristics, or do not. Let’s look firstly at Odd Ones Out.

Candidates are shown a selection of shapes or symbols (usually four or five). All but one of these share the same characteristics. They are then asked to find the “Odd One Out” – the one that does not have the same features.

Let’s show you a few examples:

**Example One**

*The four shapes below all have something in common, except one. You must find the odd one out. Choose the shape which you think does not belong with the other three.*

This is a very simple illustration, just to give you the general idea. It’s rare that the difference between the shapes will be so obvious!

First of all, let’s look at what they all have in common:

All the shapes are polygons: an equilateral triangle, a square, a regular hexagon and a parallelogram.

All the shapes have horizontal shading.

Okay then, now we look for the property that three of the shapes share but one does not. If you haven’t already spotted it, option ‘d’ is the odd one out. That’s because it has no reflection symmetry. If you draw a line from top to bottom through its middle, the two halves would not be reflections of one another.

Like I said, it’s rare, but sometimes the “odd one out” leaps out at you straight away, as it should have done in the previous example. That’s a good thing, but beware of leaping to conclusions. If you think you spot the odd one out, you need to be able to say why and not just go on “gut” feelings.

You probably spotted that last answer straight away, so let’s show you a couple of more challenging questions:

**Example Two**

*The four shapes below all have something in common, except one. You must find the odd one out. Choose the shape which you think does not belong with the other three.*

As before, let’s first of all look at what the shapes all have in common:

All of the shapes appear to be cuboids, with the same three faces visible.

All of the shapes have the same colour shading.

All of the shapes have six smaller shapes on them – two at the top, two at the front, and two at the side.

All four shapes use the same four smaller shapes – a triangle, a circle, a square and a heart.

Now we need to look at the differences between them. These are all to do with the smaller shapes:

Each shape uses two of the smaller shapes twice, but this varies between them. Box ‘a’ has two diamonds and squares, box ‘b’ has two hearts and circles, box ‘c’ has two triangles and squares and box ‘d’ has two hearts and triangles. There seems to be no similarity here.

Now we look at the positioning of the smaller shapes and the answer appears: boxes ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’ have the same shapes on their top as they do on their side. Box ‘d’ has the same two shapes on its front and its side. Option ‘d’ is the correct answer.

Sometimes you will need to find very minor details like this to answer the question. This can take quite a while, so make sure your child knows not to spend too long on any one question. They could waste valuable time and not get to later questions which they might be able to answer twice as quickly. Time is limited and so cannot be wasted.

**Example Three**

*The four shapes below all have something in common, except one. You must find the odd one out. Choose the shape which you think does not belong with the other three.*

This one is quite complicated, as there is so much going on. As always, let’s first look at the similarities between all four patterns, starting with the shapes they contain:

They all contain four different types of arrow.

They all contain one curved arrow.

They all contain one regular arrow.

They all contain two arrows pointing up, and two pointing down.

All four boxes have two vertically shaded shapes and two horizontally shaded ones.

They all contain two arrows attached to quadrilateral shapes – thought the actual shapes are different – ‘a’ has two squares, ‘b’ and ‘c’ have a square and a ‘thick’ rectangle, and ‘d’ has a square and a ‘thin’ rectangle. This is a red herring. We are looking for one odd one out, but this would give us two of them, so it is irrelevant.

Okay, we’ve looked at the shapes, now let’s examine their positions:

Boxes ‘a’ and ‘b’ have two shapes at their top and two at their bottom.

Boxes ‘b’ and ‘d’ have three shapes at their top and one at their bottom.

Again, this is a red herring. There is no one shape that stands out as different from the other three.

Now we come to the only other feature of the shapes – their shading:

As we have already noted, all four boxes have two vertically shaded shapes and two horizontally shaded ones. But which direction are the arrows in those shapes pointing?

In boxes ‘a’, ‘c’ and ‘d’, the horizontal shading is found in the shapes that are pointing up, and the vertical shading is in the shapes which are pointing down. In box ‘b’ the opposite is true. We have found our odd one out at last!

So, now you know how Odd One Out questions appear in the exam, and you have some knowledge of how to work them out. Now it’s time to put what you have learned into action.

We have 7 Odd One Out quizzes on the Education Quizzes site. Go through each question with your child and see how they get on. If they need any help, then share some of the ideas we’ve shown you with them. There are 70 questions in all, so plenty of opportunity to practise.

Here are links to each individual quiz:

As I said earlier, there is another way Similar Shapes questions are posed in the exam. In those, rather than finding the shape which is different, children must look for the shape which is most similar. More on that in the next illustration. See you there!