NVR - Relationships Between Symbols (1)

Example – On the left of each of the rows are two shapes with an arrow between them. Decide how they are related. The third shape is related to one of the remaining shapes in the same way. Which of the shapes goes with the third in the same way as the second goes with the first?


Use the ‘talking it through in your head’ technique for these sorts of questions; it’s a lot easier that way. You might use general terms such as ‘main shape moves to outside’ or ‘lowest shape rotates 90 degrees’ and suddenly things will become clearer. Key things to look for in these questions will be movement, rotation, shading and size but don’t ignore other variables.

Let’s talk this question through – if your child gets used to doing this he or she is halfway to conquering non-verbal reasoning. Firstly explore every element of the first pair – not too hard considering there are only two parts to it. The small circle in the first symbol becomes a large circle in the second symbol. The connection between the other element is less obvious, but count the number of lines in the ‘step’ shape – five – and count the number of sides in the pentagon – five. So, the number of lines in the ‘step’ shape relates to the number of sides in the shape in the second symbol.

We need to hold that information in our heads and look at the new shapes. Let’s replace the precise terms of the first pairing with the new items in the second pairing, but maintain the general idea. Instead of a small circle we now have a small triangle and instead of the five-line ‘step’ we have a four-line ‘step’. We learned that the number of sides of the target shape (that’s what I like to call the answer) is dependent on the number of lines in the ‘step’ so our target shape has four sides. This discounts answers ‘e’ and ‘c’. The small shape on the bottom right becomes a large shape and on this occasion it’s a triangle. Only ‘b’, ‘c’ and ‘e’ have large triangles and we’ve already discounted two of those: the answer is ‘b’.

The quick way of articulating this is as follows, and is really good practice to use: ‘Lines of step make large shape, circle becomes large.’ ‘Four lines become quadrilateral, triangle becomes large.’ Therefore your child should look for a quadrilateral (four-sided figure) with a large triangle.

It’s always interesting to look at the wrong answers and see what they’re trying to tempt you into thinking. There are several quadrilaterals here but only one square – they are trying to catch out the child who cannot think beyond the obvious, who thinks ‘four-sided shape’ and only comes up with ‘square’. The circles are in possible answers to catch children who don’t understand that the new pairing doesn’t have to have anything to do with the specific shapes of the first pairing. The ‘step’ shape is available in one answer for a child who thinks that you need to have the same shape in each part of the pair; someone who misunderstands the meaning of this type of question.

Go to the next Non Verbal Reasoning working example - Relationships Between Symbols (2)

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