What is Verbal Reasoning?
Verbal reasoning is, by definition, ‘understanding and reasoning using concepts framed in words – it aims at evaluating the ability to think constructively rather than just recognise vocabulary’.
Verbal reasoning is a test of a skill rather than a test of learned knowledge. The subject allows a test to determine a child’s critical thinking ability and their ability to use their own knowledge to solve a problem. Verbal reasoning will likely not be taught in school.
Some types of questions that are tested in a verbal reasoning exam are spotting letter sequences, cracking codes based on letters and numbers, following written instructions, and thinking about text, spotting words within words or finding a letter to complete two other words.
To do well in a Verbal Reasoning exam, it is recommended that they have a good vocabulary. It is expected that by the age of 11, a child should have a vocabulary of 2,000 words. BOFA offers a spelling database of over 3,000 words, which goes way beyond what is required. It is widely agreed that children who are widely read are more likely to do well in Verbal Reasoning.
It is also recommended that children have a good grasp of synonyms (words that mean the same thing or have similar definitions), antonyms (words that have opposite meaning) and a good general knowledge in terms of Maths and English.
How can you help your child practise Verbal Reasoning Skills?
- Play word-based board games such as 'Scrabble' or 'Boggle'.
- Encourage your child to play word games such as word searched, hangman and crosswords.
- Play word games with your child such as spotting the odd word out, solving anagrams, and finding synonyms and antonyms for words.
- Host spelling challenges with your child, focusing on commonly misspelt words and homophones (words that sound the same but are spelt differently).
- Generally, excite your child about culture, build their general knowledge and culture capital by taking them to museums and exhibitions.
- Children need to be good at reading questions carefully so that they can decipher what is being asked and follow the directions exactly. Encourage your child not to rush or skim read in their Verbal Reasoning exams.