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11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Progression | Brain
These questions will really test your brain.

NVR Progression - Fill in the Blank (4)

So far in this section on Progression, or Complete the Series questions, we’ve looked at ones formed by rotation, numbers and alternate progressions. In this one, we will be looking at a much more difficult method examiners will use. There seems to be no obvious solution, and only the use of logic can find the correct answer.

How Are These Kinds of Question Posed in The Exam?

These questions are posed in exactly the same way as all other Complete the Series ones in the 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning exam. The only difference is that the way the series is formed is not so obvious.

Let’s show you a classic example question:


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

11-plus-fill -in-the-blank-4

This is a rather sneaky one – can you spot the progression on the left?

Start by working out what remains the same (four dots in the corners) and then explore what changes, looking for any patterns that emerge. Again, this may be one which has no absolute answer, but it does have a logical one.

Technique Tip

The variables need to be explained; you should encourage your child to look at what changes and what stays the same as they can then sort in their minds what an answer must have and what is dependent on the position of the symbol in the progression.

In this example the variables are the line emanating from the centre and pointing to the corner, as well as the apparently random extra circle that crops up. There has to be something logical to determine the position of the circles or the lines; let’s take a look at where they are:

Box Position of extra circle Direction of line (from centre)
First Top right Top left
Second Top left Bottom right
Third Bottom right Top right
Fourth Top right Top left
Fifth ? ?

(There’s no way you could draw a table out in a timed test. All of the explanations I’m presenting are to demonstrate how and why and are not necessarily going to be the actual methods used to answer the questions. They are to help you spot the concepts used in non-verbal reasoning and to direct your child!)

So, looking at the table, if you couldn’t initially see any connection between the variables, can you now spot the way it works?

The line and the extra circle do not follow a set pattern based on moving clockwise or anticlockwise. Instead, the direction of the arrow seems to indicate the position of the circle in the next box. The position of the extra circle in the fifth box is determined by the direction of the line in box four, so it must be in the top left corner.

Encourage your child to cross out the letter of any answer they are sure is wrong. Crossing out (b) and (c) is now possible.

Next, look at what is different about the remaining three options. The only difference is the line; we have already seen that the line does not follow a regular pattern so it could surely point anywhere? This is where common sense clicks in and you find the most sensible answer rather than the absolute one.

Look at (d). It doesn’t point to a corner so is not in keeping with the others, so is to be discounted. Option (e) is not like the others as it has a line which does NOT have its origin in the centre of the box; it’s safe to assume this is not what the examiners are looking for either, which leaves us with... (a).

For those who are spotting these without my detailed explanations, you should now work on ways of explaining the answers to your child.

Sample Tests

Numbers and shapes (which we looked at in the previous article) are one of the most difficult Complete the Series types, but they are certainly given a run for their money by these little blighters! But now you know how to tackle both, then you may feel ready to test yourself with some sample questions.

We have 7 Complete the Series quizzes in the 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning section of the Education Quizzes site. If you’d like to try them now, then here are 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

However, there is one more method examiners use to construct these questions, which I’d like to show you in the next article. That will complete this section and you’ll then be fully armed to help your child through this part of the exam. See you there!

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