11-Plus Exam Illustrations - Non Verbal Reasoning Quiz - NVR - Relationships Between Symbols (3) (Questions)

This is the third of four 11+ Non-Verbal Reasoning exam illustrations looking at Analogies. By now you should be quite familiar with these types of question. As you’ll remember, analogies are simply ways of comparing one thing to another, like “claw is to lion, as talon is to eagle”. These questions require children to find the relationships between symbols or shapes and then apply them to others.

In the previous article we focussed on analogies to do with size, number and rotation. In this one we’ll take a look at ones formed by shading and movement.

How Are These Kinds of Question Posed in The Exam?

You’ve come across these types of question before, so you will know that candidates are shown three shapes or patterns. The first two shapes are related in some way and the child must decide which shape or pattern is related to the third shape in the same way from a choice of options.

Now, let’s show you an example of how analogies can be formed from shading and movement.


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?


First, we look at the first two symbols. What can you make of the connections between them? The word version of this should read something like this:

  1. The trapezium on the left becomes the main shape.
  2. The rectangle on the right becomes small and is central in the target shape with the shading of the trapezium.
  3. The internal lines of the rectangle are repeated in the target shape while the crosses appear on the outside of the target shape.

Now, let’s do the same as we did in the last example and generalise it so that we can see what is required:

Left shape becomes the main shape; right shape becomes small and inside main one with same shading as the left shape; internal lines of right shape become internal lines of main one and internal symbols of right shape go to the outside of main shape.

It’s complicated, but if you deal with it one at a time it’s a lot less intimidating. When you follow the ‘instructions’ that we’ve just created, you end up describing shape ‘d’. All the other possibilities are wrong in some way and some deliberately make reference to the first pairing, trying to persuade the careless that there has to be some connection between the objects in the first pair and the objects in the second pair. As stated before, it’s the process that’s important, not the symbols.

Technique Tip

I find that crossing out the wrong options is not the only good way to deal with the answers in this style of question. If your child is getting through the questions at pace, then don’t worry, but I like to use a physical approach using my fingers.

I say the first connection I see between the first pair in my head and apply it to the second pair. This is likely to rule out one of the options. I point my fingers to the remaining four options (or however many are left.)

Next, I go to another connection between the first two symbols and apply the same process to the second pair. This need only be applied to the remaining symbols that my fingers are pointing to; if any of them do not fit the pattern then I simply remove my finger from them and continue this process until I’m left with just one symbol.

Many children really appreciate having a physical element to the process and research suggests that physical movement can enhance a child’s understanding. An alternative is to cover up each ‘wrong’ answer with a finger and you are then left with just one correct answer.

Sample Tests

So that’s your introduction to Analogies type questions in Non-Verbal Reasoning. We’ve shown you the main ways in which these questions are posed., so you might feel ready to try some sample questions.

There are 8 quizzes on the Education Quizzes website based on Analogies. 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

It might be wiser though to read your way through the next article though, so that you are fully armed to tackle Analogies questions. There are some devious tricks examiners like to use, and I’ll tell you about some of them in it – see you there!