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11+ Fill in the blank illustration | Solution
The solutions to these questions are found by filling in the missing shape.

NVR Progression - Fill in the Blank (1)

In this first section of our 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning exam illustrations, we’ll be looking at progression type questions. These are basically the same as Complete the Series questions, which you may be familiar with if you’ve already read our 11+ Verbal Reasoning exam illustrations. Completing a series is also a common theme in 11+ Maths, so most children will be familiar with the concept.

How Are These Kinds of Question Posed in The Exam?

Candidates are shown a series of shapes (usually a series of four or five), one of which is missing. They are also shown a few other shapes (again, four or five), one of which will fit into the blank space to complete the series in a logical manner.

As always, the best way to show you is with an example:


Pick one of the five boxes on the right to fit in the blank box and complete the series on the left.


So, how best to solve these kinds of puzzles? Well, I have a couple of a valuable tips:

Technique Tip One

Here is one of the most important tips I ever impart – and it really can prove crucial to some children. To save a lot of confusion over the shapes, positions and directions, put the symbols into words. We’ll talk more about this later, but for now it’ll help us to talk about the position of the circle as this is the only thing that changes in the diagram.

The white circle appears in the top right of the first box, then the bottom right in the second box and so on. If you try to visualise each box transposed one on top of the other, it sometimes helps. Imagining them over the top of each other would make the movement of the circle even clearer.

So, we now need to pick the correct answer – and here’s another top tip. If you can do so, ignore the possible answers and try to work it out yourself. This is a very helpful thing to do if you are getting the hang of the problems and are coping with them well inside the given time limits. If you are struggling, it’s not as useful, as there are other ways (which I will explain later) which will enable you to get more marks.

So, we’ve been looking at the boxes, thinking about where the white circle goes. It moves around the corners of the box in a clockwise direction and must end up in the top right-hand corner in the blank box.

Technique Tip Two

Once we’ve got an idea of what we must have in the answer, but aren’t sure of the exact one, we need to remove some of the possibilities. Anything that you are sure cannot be the correct answer can have a single line drawn through the LETTER in pencil.

The reason we don’t draw a line through the whole symbol, is that if there is a mistake made it is then potentially difficult to see what was written under the lines you’ve drawn over the symbol. I’ve seen it hinder children in the past – encourage them to cross out the letter under the symbol, not the symbol itself. If an error is made, an eraser should be a quick solution so discourage your child from ‘scrubbing out’ the letters. Time is a critical issue in non-verbal testing.

Our answer cannot be (a) because the circle is in the wrong position. Cross out the letter (a).

The answer cannot be (e) because there is a black circle in the corner, not a white one. Cross out the letter (e).

Now we scan for other things and hopefully you’ll have discounted (b) as the centre shape is wrong, while (d) contains two white circles and we only need one.

If your child finds it helpful to cross out each symbol that can’t be the answer as he or she goes along, then don’t discourage them – when they feel more comfortable they will stop doing so, but still have the technique in mind for the tough ones where it remains necessary.

We have shown by two methods that the answer must be (c). We have shown it by working it out in our heads and then searching for the box that contains the image we know must be right, and we have shown it by the process of elimination. Sometimes the latter is the only way of working something out, but you must encourage your child to remain flexible in their approach. Don’t discourage them from doing something which is working!

Sample Tests

So, now you have been introduced to Progression style questions and how they look in the exam. We’ve only shown you one method used to find the answer so far though – rotation. If you’d like a little practise, then we have 7 quizzes in this format on the Education Quizzes website.

You can find them in our 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning section. Alternatively, you can follow these links to each quiz:

Complete the Series 1

Complete the Series 2

Complete the Series 3

Complete the Series 4

Complete the Series 5

Complete the Series 6

Complete the Series 7

Before you go there though, you might want to take a look at the rest of the illustrations in this section. There are four of them which look in turn at four other ways Progression questions can be made and, more importantly, techniques for tackling them.

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