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11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning Analogies | Wet and dry
Wet is to dry as hard is to soft.

NVR - Relationships Between Symbols (2)

As you will remember from the previous article, analogies are methods of comparing two things. They take the form of “A is to B as C is to D”, for example, wet is to dry as hard is to soft”. That’s the Relationship Between Symbols we’re looking at in this section.

In the last article we introduced you to analogy questions as they appear in the 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning exam, and we focussed on relationships of size and number. In this one we’ll look at relationships formed by rotation.

How Are These Kinds of Question Posed in The Exam?

These are just another way of answering exactly the same kind of question as we looked at in the last exam illustration, so they appear in exactly the same way. Only the method used to work them out is different. Let’s look at an example:


On the left 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?


Make sure that you are thinking in terms of words rather than shapes, so that you can make sense of the problem and be able to teach it. Lucky people can just ‘see’ the answers but if you’re one of these people don’t forget that your child needs techniques to learn from and cannot be expected to just ‘get it’.

Let’s go through the words needed to explain this question, starting with the specifics for the first pairing and then going on to make general instructions which we can follow for the second pairing:

  1. The big arrow rotates ninety degrees anticlockwise
  2. The triangle flips top to bottom (in the horizontal axis)
  3. The circle becomes three very small, black circles under the arrow

If we now generalise, it comes out as follows:

Main shape rotates ninety degrees left, higher shape flips top to bottom, lower shape becomes three small black shapes below main shape.

This can be used as the template to answer the question. It can, of course, be used to answer ANY question with a similar pattern and if your child is not too sure of the way it works, it would be good for him or her to create their own third shape to make their own second pair of symbols. This provides reinforcement, allows the child to think that they are in control of the questions and removes the mystery of the question-setter. A child can set these questions – as long as they think!

So, let’s go back to the third symbol we’ve been given. Apply the generalised explanation, replacing general terms with specific ones. It should look like this:

Parallelogram rotates ninety degrees left, pentagon flips top to bottom, diamond becomes three small black diamonds below parallelogram.

Now we’ve got this we can look to eliminate answers or pick the right one immediately if the child is capable of doing so. The tricky element here is the parallelogram rotating as some children cannot visualise which way it should be facing after a rotation. This is where the earlier tip about giving children cut-out shapes to play with proves useful.

The correct answer, as I’m sure you have gathered, is ‘a’. Answer ‘d’ was a fair bet but was not an accurate rotation of the parallelogram, while ‘e’ was a good bet except for the diamonds being replaced with circles, which appeared in the first pair but have no connection with the second pair.

Make sure your child knows it’s the PROCESS that is important in the first pair, not the symbols.

Sample Tests

Now we’ve looked at two of the ways Analogies questions are formed in the 11+ in Non-Verbal Reasoning exam. If you feel ready for some practise, take a look at our Analogies quizzes. You’ll find them in the 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning section, or you can follow these links:

Analogies 1

Analogies 2

Analogies 3

Analogies 4

Analogies 5

Analogies 6

Analogies 7

Analogies 8

There are still a couple more ways Analogies questions can be made though, which we look at in the next two illustrations. See you there!

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