Verbal reasoning vs nonverbal reasoning, what’s the difference?
If you read the title of this blog and applied a bit of verbal reasoning, you may have deduced what nonverbal reasoning (NVR) is. If you guessed something along the lines of “nonverbal reasoning is the ability to understand and analyze visual information without relying on written or spoken language”, you pretty much nailed it. Unlike nonverbal reasoning, verbal reasoning is the ability to comprehend words and letters as opposed to numbers and shapes.
What sort of visual information, you may ask? NVR questions can take many shapes. It can be any sort of problem-solving using pictures and diagrams. It tests a pupil’s ability to analyze visual information and find the correct answer based on visual reasoning as opposed to reading comprehension. It’s been a part of the national curriculum for quite some time (as far back as the 1950s!) But like many types of testing, its popularity varies from state to state and decade to decade.
Though verbal reasoning tests can sometimes consist of identifying sequences in letters and numbers, they’re mostly centered around following written instructions and responding with a written answer. If you didn’t guess, or all of this sounds new to you, read on!
What do nonverbal reasoning tests look like?
NVR questions are nearly always presented as diagrams or pictures. below are some ideas of example questions that a typical nonverbal reasoning exam might contain.
Often, pupils are asked to look at a sequence and find the odd one out. Other examples of typical NVR questions include:
- Working out what a piece of paper would look like when folded
- Identifying the mirror image of a shape
- Figuring out the next shape in a sequence of shapes
- Finding identical shapes in a group of shapes
- Identifying what shapes look like when rotated
These are just a few examples of the types of questions you might see in an NVR test. If you’re interested in helping a child prepare for these kinds of tests, or just want to improve their nonverbal reasoning skills, why not try out some practice papers? There are tons of free resources online — check out these practice tests!
Why are nonverbal reasoning tests important?
Because these tests are largely non-verbal, they are highly popular for recruiting international placements, as the results are not impacted by comprehension of any given language. Nonverbal reasoning tests are often used to assess a person’s cognitive abilities, including problem-solving skills, abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, and logical thinking.
These skills are essential for success in many academic and professional fields. Naturally, these tests are also used as a recruitment tool for STEM and design job roles, because of their focus on maths skills and other qualities necessary to succeed in STEM roles. The talent of finding solutions to problems with limited information, and potentially no instructions at all highlights individuals as self-starters and likely to progress quickly through high performance and taking initiative.
Nonverbal Reasoning Exam Prep Top Tips
Want to introduce NVR questions into your lesson plans? Here are some ways you can introduce a nonverbal way of thinking to your learners.
- Jigsaw puzzles: A great fun way to improve nonverbal reasoning skills is to provide your learners with jigsaw puzzles, seriously! The problem-solving skills needed to complete a jigsaw are closely aligned with nonverbal reasoning question types, not to mention the mental benefits they provide!
- Encourage visual learning: Encourage children to learn through visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, and graphs. This can help them to develop their ability to understand and analyze visual information.
- Play visual games: Play visual games with children, such as mazes and spot-the-difference games. This can help them to develop their spatial awareness. Games like Sudoku can improve their numeracy and problem-solving skills.
- Create a stimulating environment: Create a stimulating environment that encourages children to explore, experiment, and observe. This can help them to develop their curiosity, creativity, and nonverbal reasoning skills. This is usually only seen in elementary school classrooms, but there are noted benefits to maintaining this ethos all the way through to high school and college.
The popularity of nonverbal reasoning tests is a testament to how insightful they can be. More and more public schools and private grammar schools are including NVR questions in their exam papers. There are also several professions, including law enforcement, clinical health professionals, and the military that include NVR test papers as a portion of their entrance exams.