Blog

UNDERSTANDING NON-VERBAL REASONING

Understanding non-verbal reasoning can seem an impossible task. We asked Rob Williams from School Entrance Tests for help.

More and more secondary schools across West London are using non-verbal reasoning (NVR) tests as an admissions criterion. The recent overhaul of The London Consortium (formally the North London Girls’ Consortium) has seen traditional maths and English papers replaced by a bespoke cognitive ability test, lasting 75 minutes, plus an interview where problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity are assessed.

And it isn’t just private schools using non-verbal reasoning tests. Many grammar school entrance tests incorporate a non-verbal reasoning test as part of the 11-plus exam. Even comprehensive schools, such as Sacred Heart High School and Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, use a NVR test to ensure a mixed ability intake.

For many Year 6 pupils this will be a new type of test, and their parents will want to do everything possible to boost their child’s chances of being admitted to the school of their choice. We asked Ealing-based practice test specialists, School Entrance Tests, to provide some introductory points and practice tips.

What are NVR tests?

NVR tests measure general intelligence by assessing the ability to identify the inherent patterns in a series of shapes/figures. The figures may be regular geometric shapes like triangles, squares and triangles. However, sometimes they are just dots. Or just crosses.

NVR tests come in many different formats, but here are some common characteristics:

    1. Diagrams are used – instead of numbers or words. NVR tests do not rely on any knowledge of either English or maths. This is what makes them a fairer assessment than, ‘pure’ English or Maths tests.
    2. Questions are based on a sequence involving several sets of figures.

For example:

Figures are arranged in a sequence, series or matrix format.
The next figure in the sequence must be found amongst the answer options offered.

Four- step strategy

This four-step strategy is useful for identifying visual sequences and patterns:

1. What are the key similarities and differences between the shapes and figures?
– Does any pattern standout immediately? If so, how is it changing across the sequence?
– What is the sequential change at each step?

2. There are some commonly encountered pattern changes in the sets of figures and shapes. Look-out for the these…

  • Shape – There will be one or more figures shown.
    What shape are these? What shape are the next in the series?
    More difficult questions may have several figures but the principle is the same. Check the grouping of each type of shape.
  • Size – one of the easiest patterns to find first. Hence some of the first, easiest questions in a NVR test may be based on size changes of the figure(s) shown.
  • Position and Movement – Many questions involve at least one or two movement patterns. Often of a triangle, square, circle etc. For example, does the black shape move around from the top right-hand corner to the bottom right-hand corner?
  • Colour and Shading – Colour or shading are often a determinant in the solution. For example, does the same shape shift between being black and white? Or does the shading go from white to grey, then to black, and back again through this same shading sequence?
  • Number – Questions with many figures will invariably have number as the changing pattern. Count the figures at each step to check for a sequential change in the number of the high frequency figure(s).
  • Rotation – Do any features rotate clockwise or anti-clockwise? By 90- or 180-degrees at each step?

A few less commonly encountered changing patterns are: embedded figures; and reflection / mirror images.

3. If the shapes are irregular you can rule out shape as being part of the solution. The shapes and figures that are presented in each question block will become increasingly complex. Finding one pattern is then just part of the solution. Once you have done this, you will need to find a second, different pattern that also changes step-by-step. The very hardest questions may even have a third pattern change!

4. Review the answer options with these three considerations in mind:

  • Once you have found the first pattern, you can eliminate any answer options that do not meet this first pattern.
  • Then, narrow down the solution further by “removing” the number pattern from the question and seeing what other patterns then reveal themselves.
  • Finally, the changing pattern must be found in the answer options too. Be careful not to make your selection too quickly – often one answer option will be almost correct!

For the easiest questions you only need to find one changing pattern. The NVR questions will gradually increase in difficulty, however. By the end of the test your child will have to find two or three pattern changes. In other words, one part of the central figure may change shading/colour. A different part of the same central shape may rotate clockwise or anti-clockwise. Both these changes occur together at each step in the sequence.

Timing is everything

To the uninitiated, NVR tests look like nothing more than random shapes and squiggles. However, the more practice your child does, the more adept they will become at spotting the changing patterns. Taking practice tests won’t just help your child become more skilful at non-verbal reasoning, they will also help with time management – an important factor in exam success.

Encourage your child to work through the easiest questions quickly, though of course taking care to avoid careless errors.

Sometimes seeing the one, two or three patterns required can happen very quickly. However, with other questions, it may take a lot longer to identify the patterns. Your child

should avoid spending too long on the NVR questions they find most difficult. If they encounter a sequence that has them scratching their head in frustration they should move on and return to the tricky question if time permits.

Familiarity with the different question formats will help your child learn when to skip a question, and how long to spend on each question. And, of course, being familiar with the test format in advance will help your child feel more calm and confident on exam day, allowing them to perform to the absolute best of their ability.

You can find free practice NVR papers on the School Entrance Tests website: https://www.schoolentrancetests.com/11plus-grammar/non-verbal-reasoning-practice/
https://www.schoolentrancetests.com/private-9-10-11-exams/

schoolentrancetests.com
E: rrussellwilliams@hotmail.co.uk
M: 077915 06395

 

Cover image: Element 5

NETBALL KNOWHOW

In netball, England are current Commonwealth gold medallists, and the popularity amongst girls is growing hugely. But what of us mothers, busy working or child juggling. Can we become ballers too? Beverley Turner says yes.

 

Netball.

I could think up some florid sentence to describe the benefits of netball, but – quite simply – I just bloody love it. And you will too. It all started four of five years ago, bored of the gym, tired of running but keen to keep a perky bottom, I tagged along with another school mum to a local leisure centre and a ‘Back to Netball’ session – part of an England Netball initiative running since 2010, which has seen over 60,000 women get back on court. Like most women, I played at school, but that was nearly 27 (f**k!) years ago. How hard could it be to catch and throw a ball? It transpired that the ball action was the easy bit. Sprinting up and down a full-size court while using my brain was the challenge. I came off red-faced, exhausted, elated and utterly determined to make this a weekly activity.

Commitment

For that last few years nothing gets in the way of my netball. In psychology terms, it’s a classic ‘flow activity’ – a pastime that is so engaging and absorbing that you forget all your worries and give yourself a very healthy mental break from any outside stress. Whilst running, swimming or pumping weights, it can be hard to switch off the to-do list in your head. But if you’re going to let your team mates down or get a ball in the side of your head, it’s surprising how concentrated you can be!

And netball is the UK’s largest growing sport. There was a 44% increase in participation at grass roots level in the last year, with nearly 30,000 players pounding the courts across England. Mothers supporting their school-age daughters now have a chance to play themselves at numerous courts across the country – knowing how hard it can be to shoot, must make for better side-line coaching.

Where to play

In West London we are spoilt for choice with teams and leagues available pretty much every day of the week. Kathryn Riley runs the Chiswick House Gardens-based Will to Win set-up where mums can be found on Thursday mornings working off a week’s worth of gin and tonics. “The appeal lies in women of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels playing together and having fun,” she says, “We employ fully-qualified coaches to take drills as well as oversee games.”  Like me, most of the women have played as youngsters so there’s also a nostalgic element to the game. “It keeps us all young!” says Kathryn. At the recent tournament they hosted, the Will to Win team saw more than 40 women gather on a beautiful summer’s evening to battle it out for victory. It was an inspiring scene: incredibly busy women who juggle kids, work and other commitments, yet who make time to get out and keep fit. By the end of the evening, everyone was smiling.

So it’s about time we women got to share in the magic that blokes and their weekly five-a-side footy teams have known for years: team sport is the very best exercise for both body – and mind. I’ll see you there.

Want to know more?

If you’re feeling a little intimidated, unfit or not sure if netball is for you, why not try walking netball.
Walking netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but at a walking pace. The game has been designed so that anyone can play it regardless of age or fitness level.
From those who have dropped out of the sport they love due to serious injury, to those who believed they had hung up their netball trainers many years ago, it really is for everyone.

For more information about netball and walking netball sessions across London for women and children, please visit www.willtowin.co.uk

 Above: Bev Turner and her sister-in-law

A VIEW FROM AN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

The importance of teaching students ‘international mindedness’

Diane Hren, Head of School at ACS Hillingdon International School

In an ever-changing world and increasingly global workplace, the importance of young people being internationally-minded and aware of global issues is more relevant than ever before. Living in such an interconnected world requires a generation of problem solvers and creative thinkers who can understand challenges from a range of cultural perspectives.

International schools are perfectly positioned to help students widen their horizons. A classroom with peers and teachers from all over the world offers students the unique opportunity to explore curriculum subjects from multiple viewpoints, challenging perceptions and broadening their understanding across complex subjects.

ACS Hillingdon International School, one of three ACS International Schools in the UK, has students enrolled from over 50 nationalities. For its 570 students, aged 4 to 18, being educated in this hugely diverse international community, combined with receiving an international education, develops a global mindset and helps forge that all important international mindedness and understanding.

An international education

Qualifications and learning programmes that extend beyond national boundaries have to be central to an international education. At ACS Hillingdon, we offer highly regarded, world-renowned, International and US programmes, including the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), Advanced Placement (AP) courses, a US High School Diploma and an Honours programme.

Studying these globally recognised qualifications means our students are well prepared to go on to attend the university of their choice, in the UK or anywhere in the world. UK University admissions officers cited the IBDP as the best preparation for University, compared to A Levels, according to research conducted on behalf of ACS. Admissions officers believe that the IBDP develops essential aptitudes needed to thrive at university, such as independent inquiry, open-mindedness and self-management skills.

We believe that a well-rounded and balanced school life is key to developing confident and happy individuals. ACS Hillingdon has an exciting and dynamic mix of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and we help each student realise his/her potential in everything they do.

Developing global citizens

In 2015, ACS Hillingdon became the first school in Europe to be awarded International Certification status from the Council of International Schools (CIS), recognising its provision of high quality international education.

An ACS International Schools alumni survey revealed that 78 per cent of respondents believed that attending an international school meant they had the confidence to live and work anywhere in the world and 84 per cent said they had greater tolerance and respect for other cultures.

 “Attending an international school broadened my horizons; it helped me realise that there were many things within my grasp beyond what I had previously considered.” –  ACS alumni.

Through an international education and exposure to a multicultural mix of students at an international school, students emerge from education as well-rounded, culturally aware individuals, who respect others and can think independently and critically. While many students are expatriates, it is local, UK families who are joining in ever-increasing numbers as awareness of the life-long benefits of an international education can give grows.

To find out more about how ACS Hillingdon can enrich your child’s education or to register for an Open Morning visit www.acs-schools.com/opendays.

Hillingdon Graduations 2016

BUBBLE

Bubble AW16 Images 7 of 7

A couple of times a year, the Business Design Centre in Islington plays host to Bubble London, a unique and carefully curated baby and children’s fashion, accessories and homewares trade show.

British and international brands showcase their SS and AW collections and buyers get to have a good nose at what’s coming up. It’s a great opportunity for the press, like me, to seek out new and upcoming brands and it’s where I’ve met the women behind fledgling companies Little Wardrobe London, Panda & Ping, Ace & Me, Where’s That Bear and many more.

From a consumer’s perspective, much of what you see in the shops or online will have first been spotted by buyers at shows like Bubble. In a couple of months I’ll be making my way back to Islington to find out what’s going to be hot next summer, plus Bubble Bump will launch, an area dedicated to maternity and nursery brands.

I’ve met some inspiring people in the last couple of years who have built businesses from scratch, changed direction following children or deserted highly paid city jobs to pursue a dream. Each has a chance to shine, and is well supported by the show’s PR Shosh Kazab of Fuse Communications. She’s a pocket rocket of enthusiasm, knowledge and a passionate supporter of the show’s exhibitors as well as the retailers and press who attend. I look forward to seeing her again in June (if we can’t sneak in a coffee/cocktail/chat about Bloodline before then).

Watch this space for an insight into my discoveries later this year.

www.bubblelondon.com

#discoverbubble

bubble open web

Bubble AW16 Images 3 of 7