Secondary School Preparation: Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning


Many children sit Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning questions as part of their Secondary Schools exams. However, these are not always taught in school and can be tricky for parents to pick up.

Verbal focuses on the connections of words and numbers, and relies on children to have a good knowledge of vocabulary alongside different strategies to solve word puzzles. Non-Verbal Reasoning looks at how images or pictures, usually consisting of shapes, different line styles or patterns, change before finding the missing or similar pattern.

Not sure if your child will need to learn this interesting topic? Read on.

Who Takes The Exam?

Across the country many schools state and independent use Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning as part of their entrance exam. This could be via the ISEB, or a stand alone assessment in the school. Firstly, you should shortlist your top schools and check their individual admission criteria on their websites.

However, in South London, children who take the Wandsworth Test answer Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning during their September exam. These schools include: Ashcroft (only Non-Verbal are considered), Burntwood, Chestnut Grove and Graveney. Whereas, The Lambeth Exam, taken in November, asks children questions on Verbal, Non-Verbal and Spatial Reasoning. These schools include: Dunraven School, Lilian Baylis Technology School, The Norwood School and Platanos College.

Independent schools take their exams between November and January often with other elements included, such as: Interviews and group tasks.

What Is Included In The Exam?

There are around 26 Verbal reasoning questions types, including:

  • Letter or word manipulation, such as: missing letter, move a letter, hidden word or compound words
  • Word meaning, such as: Opposite/closest and multiple meaning.
  • Letter connections or puzzles, such as: letter connections, letter word codes or letter sequences
  • Number connections, such as: Related numbers, number sequences or complete the sum.

In Non-Verbal Reasoning there are around 6 question types, including:

  • Codes
  • Figure like the first
  • Grids
  • Series
  • Complete the pair.

Spatial Reasoning around 5 question types, including:

  • Folding
  • Cubes and nets
  • Hidden shapes
  • Combining 3D shapes.


We are often asked which material we would recommend to use. We love CGP and feel that it is the best at capturing the types of questions in an easy to use format. In South London, especially for the Wandsworth Test and Lambeth exams I would use the GL question books.

How To Prepare For The Exam?

You can prepare for the test at home or with the help of an experienced tutor, a lot depends on your children’s focus, if you enjoy learning new things together and time. If you go down the at home route there are lots of materials on the CGP website, and many places have either revision camps or mock tests to allow for some input from others.

However, others may choose to use a tutor. This is often for a number of reasons:

1) The material or questions are new to both parents and children so getting professional support and advice is vital.

2) Parents are keen that their child has seen and is confident with the material they will be faced with. It is inadvisable to sit an exam without any preparation.

3) The exam is a new experience for the child and often taken in an unfamiliar environment and under time pressure. Regular and effective practice helps allow children to feel confident and prepared for the test.

Growing Young Minds tuition classes allow children to become familiar with the material in fun and engaging lessons. We teach them the skills and strategies required to be confident in the test and to achieve their best.

How To Book A Place?

We are full for 2023-2024. However we are already taking bookings for November 2024 (current Year 4s) and November 2025 (Current Year 3s). To join us complete our booking form or to chat about how we can help contact Joanne on [email protected] or call 0203 4226119.

Find out more

Happy child learning Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning with Growing Young Minds. Weekly classes held in Colliers Wood, Earlsfield and Tooting.

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