Parents often find it difficult to navigate the sometimes-confusing world of 11 Plus exam preparation, and many feel particularly uncertain when they hear talk about 11+ Spatial Reasoning papers. What sort of skill set do these relate to? What kinds of questions might they involve? If you’ve been wondering about this area of the 11+ exam, read on.
In a nutshell, a spatial reasoning test is a non-verbal aptitude test. Spatial reasoning questions tend to involve dealing with complex patterns, nets, plans and shapes.
Because they bear little resemblance to the types of tasks children encounter in ordinary lessons, Spatial Reasoning questions are an increasingly popular feature of 11+ exams set by various schools and exam boards.
For instance, some exam boards, such as Granada Learning (GL), are known to sometimes include Spatial Reasoning sections. Meanwhile, other 11 Plus boards- such as the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM)- won’t necessarily explicitly refer to Spatial Reasoning, but could still include this style of question in their Non-Verbal Reasoning papers. For that reason, it’s likely that doing at least some Spatial Reasoning preparation could benefit your child in their 11+ preparation.
What skills does the 11+ Spatial Reasoning Test Assess?
Broadly speaking, 11+ Spatial Reasoning questions gauge childrens’ ability to comprehend and manipulate 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. They can also involve handling non-verbal information in the form of maps and plans, or the ability to understand relationships between different shapes.
Spatial Reasoning is associated with aptitude in technical disciplines; unlike many other areas of the 11+ test, vocabulary is of very little importance here. This fact, coupled with the fact that Spatial Reasoning is not featured in the National Curriculum, mean that it’s an area many children find challenging.
However, like any other area of your child’s development, the skills assessed in Spatial Reasoning can be strengthened with practice. Read on to find out more about the way that skills are assessed in the 11+ Spatial Reasoning test.
What types of questions are in the 11 Plus Spatial Reasoning Exam?
To help you gain a clearer understanding of the types of questions your child might face in an 11Plus exam, we’ve created a list of some broad categories that Spatial Reasoning papers might cover. The examples below aren’t exhaustive, but they should help you understand some of the key areas that Spatial Reasoning questions often cover.
- Shape Combining
Shape Combining tasks are essentially a form of jigsaw puzzle; in these questions, children might be asked to look at a shape (for example, a parallelogram) and select which out of various sets of constituent shapes could be arranged in a way to recreate the outline of the parallelogram.
- Matching Shapes
These questions will tend to involve a 2 dimensional shape. Children will be given a set of possible matches, only one of which is identical to the shape in question. The correct answer might appear from a different angle in order to increase the challenge; the angle, though, isn’t relevant- the ability to identify an identical shape is the key.
- Mirror Images
As the name suggests, this type of question involves being able to look at a shape (which might have intricate or complex features) and identifying its mirror opposite from a set of multiple choices.
- Two and Three Dimensional Solids
These questions assess children on their ability to interpret two dimensional nets of three dimensional shapes. For example, the question might present a net of a shape and then ask your child to identify which 3 dimensional object the net would create when “built”.
Spatial Reasoning questions can sometimes take the form of map reading. Children might be presented with the task of interpreting a non-verbal map, or needing to plot directions.
How can my child pass the 11+ Spatial Reasoning Test?
Spatial Reasoning tests are often considered challenging for Year 6 children. As we mentioned earlier, this is at least partly down to the fact that they involve forms of question which are rarely encountered anywhere else in daily life or in the National Curriculum. Unlike English or maths, this area is unfamiliar to most children.
There is also no denying the fact that Spatial Reasoning seems to come more naturally to some children than others. Purely on this basis, many people conclude that it’s not really possible to develop or improve on a child’s basic aptitude when it comes to this cognitive area.
However, there is plenty of reason to doubt this conclusion, as many studies appear to show that it is possible to markedly improve children’s Spatial Reasoning over time.
How can this be done? Like anything else, through dedicated, regular practice! It’s entirely possible to help your child develop their 11+ Spatial Reasoning skill set by using practice papers which help them become familiar with key question types, learn about the important details they should look out for, and develop confidence in this unusual, visual format.
11+ Spatial Reasoning Practice Papers and Past Papers
When it comes to practicing for the 11Plus test, no tool is more useful than past papers and practice papers. This is true for spelling, grammar, creative writing, maths, Verbal Reasoning, and it’s true for Spatial Reasoning, too.
Regardless of your child’s 11Plus provider, we recommend sourcing relevant 11+ past papers and practice papers. This will prove invaluable when it comes to supporting your child and enabling them to develop the familiarity, confidence and timing skills which will prove vital on their exam day.
Effective use of practice papers can also help both you and your child to identify key strengths and weaknesses which in turn can allow for more targeted and effective 11Plus preparation.
Should I Hire an 11 Plus Tutor?
As we mentioned at the start of this guide, it’s extremely common for parents to feel less than confident when it comes to preparing their child for the Spatial Reasoning component- or indeed several other areas of the 11Plus test. If this describes you, we recommend looking into specialist tutoring.
Hiring an 11+ tutor can be an excellent way to ensure your child receives the input and guidance of an expert, who can tailor their preparation in a manner which is effective, focused and results-driven.