Let’s explore some variations on the words-and-maths questions. These tend not to occur very often; the standard NFER test in Kent, for instance, does not include them. Some individual schools using the verbal reasoning paper like to employ these variations.

Multiply the first figure by the sum of the last two:

8 | 5 | 4 |

The sum of the last two digits is 9. The answer is 9 x 8 = 72.

There is no difficulty for most people doing these questions – we simply have to ensure that children are familiar with the terminology involved. Below is a quick run-down of some key terms:

Sum of – addition.

Dividend / Divisor - in the expression "a divided by b", a is the dividend and b is the divisor.

Factor - An exact divisor of a number. Thus 6 is a factor of 42. A factor of a number fits into it without any remainder.

Multiple – if you multiply a number and it fits into another, the result is said to be a multiple of the first. Thus 80 is a multiple of 20.

Product - the result of multiplying two numbers.

Quotient - the result of a division.

Of course they could ask many more questions in word form, for instance about mean, mode and median, but these will all get addressed in the maths section.

Which of the following is not a factor of 24?

2 | 6 | 4 | 48 | 12 |

‘Factor’ means a number which fits exactly into another. Therefore 2, 4, 6 and 12 all fit into 24 whereas 48 does not. It’s there as a red herring because 24 is a factor of 48.

Similar questions could use the term 'multiple'. A multiple is like the opposite of a factor - it's a figure that can be made by multiplying a given figure. For example, 30 and 50 are both multiples of 10.

Try this - Which of the following is not a multiple of 6?

84 | 60 | 96 | 112 | 120 |

This needs you to be able to do some division. In order to know whether a figure is a multiple of a smaller number, you need to find out whether it fits perfectly into the larger number without a remainder.

Only 60 falls into the regular times tables for the number six; the rest are higher numbers and will stretch those who have not got great maths. This makes me wonder why you often get these questions in a verbal reasoning paper but we have to work with what we're given!

The other numbers all divide by six exactly with the exception of 112.