Sometimes questions in Verbal Reasoning papers are one-offs – they don’t have a particular style and they are simply about making sense of a lot of information. Logic Problems are one of these.
You may have come across logic puzzles in certain magazines. If so, you’ll know all about them. They exercise the brain by making us use our deductive reasoning skills to find the answer. In fact, the answer is already there in the question – you just have to be able to dig it out!
They usually take to form of some information expressed in words which the child must use to work out the answer to a question. If you’ve never seen a logic problem before then the best way to show you is through an example.
Example Question One
Simon, Jessica and Henry are at the same school and have signed up for at least one club. Simon has joined the hockey club and one other. Jessica does not like football and Henry has signed up for the chess club. Which of the following statements MUST be true?
Simon has joined the general knowledge club
Jessica has joined the hockey club
Henry is good at chess
Simon has joined two clubs
Jessica is the only one to not like football
Let’s make sense of this. It is often worth reading through the answers one-by-one and applying them to the information given. When practising, allow your child to speak out loud. I encourage a child to do this as it enables me to check his or her logic and it should be something you are capable of doing as well. As ever, make sure that you’ve worked out the answer to any question you’re trialling with your child so as to give pointers as they are working them out.
So, statement A mentions Simon but not the hockey club. Therefore, we cannot know whether or not he has joined the general knowledge club - it isn’t possible to prove.
Statement B mentions Jessica and, although we are told that everyone has joined a club, it could be absolutely any. It could even be the football club – there’s no reason why not! Again, her joining the hockey club is not provable.
Statement C is possibly true – perhaps Henry is good at chess and that’s why he joined the club. Careless students will go for this as the first statement which seems reasonable. However, it is not a certainty and definitely can’t be proven using the information we are given.
Statement E suggests that Jessica is the only one to dislike football and is also a reasonable suggestion. However, we are given nothing provable in this regard and it is impossible to know for certain. Just because it doesn’t mention that Simon and Henry don’t like football doesn’t mean that they do or don’t like it. It’s speculation, it may be true, it mustn’t deflect from the logical certainty.
This leaves statement D, ‘Simon has joined two clubs’. Of course, it says in the preamble that Simon has joined the hockey club and one other, which means he has joined two clubs. He cannot have joined more, nor could he have joined fewer, otherwise the wording would have to be different. Statement D is therefore the correct answer.
Example Question Two
John has a cat and a dog. Raj has a goldfish. Sara has two rabbits, two goldfish and a rat. Daryl has twice the number of cats as John while both he and Raj own a snake. Sara doesn’t like either of John’s pet lizards but likes both his rabbits. Raj would like to have more than his two rats but is not allowed.
Who has the most pets?
This is a very wordy question but is easily broken down visually. Encourage your child to draw out a very simple table to store information and then read off it for the answer. Use ticks or crosses, numbers and abbreviations, but don’t write out full names as this will waste time.
Here’s a version of the table that could be written out for this question, with full names written to help explain what is happening:
The easiest way to arrange the information is to deal with one sentence at a time and that way you never get caught out. Taking pieces of information from different sections of the paragraph, for instance finding out everything to do with John first, is not a great idea. It means that some elements of a sentence must be ignored and may not get reviewed later. Encourage your child to be systematic.
The answer, using the table, is clearly John. He has six pets and that is more than the other children.
Once your child gets good at this, the table produced may look a bit like this:
There is no reason to differentiate between rats and rabbits so the letter ‘r’ is fine; if the question needed it, ensure your child could make clear abbreviations to differentiate between them. You could use a tally chart instead of letters in this question but I would be reluctant, as if you lose your train of thought you cannot go back and start from where you were as you only have lines or numbers and don’t know whether you’ve dealt with all the cats, Raj’s rats or whatever!
It’s always good to be brief but abbreviate too much and you could take time to restart if you make an error.
So, now we understand what Logic Problems are and, more importantly, the quickest way to solve them. It’s time to put your child’s powers of deduction to the test.
There are four quizzes on the Education Quizzes site devoted to logic problems. Go through them with your child, offering advice if necessary, gleaned from the techniques we’ve shown you in this lesson.
You’ll find the quizzes in our Eleven Plus Verbal Reasoning section or, alternatively, you can follow these links:
Let’s see if your child has what it takes to be the next Sherlock Holmes! Good luck.