Example – pick one of the five boxes on the right to fit in the blank box in the diagram on the left.
This is a great example to help children understand the way articulating the symbols can help.
Firstly, ensure that you know which way the progression works – you are going to work in columns rather than rows this time, so let’s talk the change through from top-left to bottom-left. The circle stays where it was but becomes horizontally-shaded. The crescent stays where it is but reflects in the vertical axis. (Imagine a straight line top-bottom acting as a mirror – the crescent in the top left box is a mirror image of the one in the bottom left). The triangle stays in position but flips over in the horizontal axis. The two lines stay as they were.
Now you simply read through the corresponding shapes for the second column and cross off the irrelevant answers. As the circle became shaded, so the diamond should become shaded. Cross off ‘a’ and ‘e’. The pentagon, like the crescent, should be flipped in the vertical axis – this, of course, gives something that looks identical! Now we can cross off ‘d’. The step lines should be flipped over as the triangles were but both our remaining symbols have this. Finally, the long line should stay the same, whereas in ‘b’ there is an extra line. The answer, of course, is ‘c’.
Once children are used to this technique they can rush it through mentally along the lines of – ‘circle, shaded; diamond, shaded... crescent flips, pentagon flips... triangle turns upside-down, steps turn upside-down.’ They can then be crossing off the letters of the answers which are irrelevant.
This is cheeky but it works. I always encourage a child to look ahead at what is coming up, but of course you cannot write anything outside of the given time or even turn any pages. However, many non-verbal reasoning tests are written in separate sections, each with practice questions. When I invigilate testing I am given a set list of things that I must do; this includes waiting for children to complete the practice questions as long as they are not being unreasonable. There is a chance to exploit this time by not whizzing through the questions, which are almost always identical, and looking ahead to the other questions on the page instead. If you make a big deal of doing this or start crossing things out then you will obviously get into trouble but it’s easy to answer a couple of questions mentally while bluffing your way through the practice questions. Ethical? Just about. It’s all about playing the system, I suppose. That’s the sort of technique that could allow a child to get two more correct answers in time per section and that may make ten points improvement in the standardised figure. The difference between a pass and fail, perhaps? It’s worth knowing all the little tricks.
Go to the next Non Verbal Reasoning working example - Relationships Between Symbols (1)