NVR Progression - Fill in the Blank (5)

Example – pick one of the five boxes on the right to fit in the blank box in the progression.


This is a movement-based question which looks at different objects moving in different planes. Once you break it down it becomes easier, so look at each section separately and discount the wrong answers. Your thought process may run along the following lines:

The flag shape (remember, encourage your child to name every object to improve speed) moves in the vertical plane. Because we are looking at an empty box on the left it is much easier to work from right to left. That’s the way we’ll talk about it. The flag goes up in each consecutive box until it reaches the top, then it starts from the bottom once again. That means that in the empty box we need a flag shape at the top. You (or your child) should now be crossing through the letter ‘c’.

That leaves us with four to choose from so let’s get to the other element of the puzzle, the circle. I’ve looked at the flag shape initially and the circle secondly purely because the flag is bigger – it’s irrelevant which your child does as long as they are systematic and don’t end up confusing themselves. The circles switch sides each box. Working from the right, the circle goes left-middle, right-bottom, left-middle, right-top, (?). The empty box must have the circle on the left (so cross out letter ‘b’) and, unlike the flag, when it reaches the top it seems to ‘bounce’ back via the middle. This can be checked by watching it move from the left-hand boxes towards the right. So, we’re looking for the circle to be in the middle, so cross out ‘d’.

We are left with ‘a’ and ‘e’ which are identical in all but one way – of course ‘a’ has got a thick black line around the flag so is wrong – the answer is the more regularly-drawn box ‘e’. The reason for box ‘a’ being there is to catch people out; if a trick like this is being used it will often be in the first or second box as that will be spotted by a child who is rushing.

Technique tip:

Normally the non-verbal reasoning is completed under serious time pressure. Skim reading of questions can cause problems such as the trick in the example above. However, as you’re not always allowed to go back to sections of the paper it’s crazy to leave anything unanswered. Your child should be aware of the time limit and the number of questions they have to answer – exams vary and you need to make sure you tell them what to expect. Thirty seconds per question is quite normal and as they sometimes get tougher through the section, time will soon vanish. Your child must learn when to go into ‘skim’ mode and guess from the reasonable answers to each question. Any questions that they have not got any handle on inside thirty seconds should be left and choices made at the end from however many remaining possibilities are left. That doesn’t mean thirty seconds maximum per question; if your child is working their way through and getting it right, keep going – one question right is better than four total guesses in a five-choice multiple choice section.

Go to the next Non Verbal Reasoning working example - Progression - Fill in the Blank in a 3 x 3 Grid (1)

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