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Understanding Spatial Reasoning

What is spatial reasoning?

If you can read a map without having to turn it around or you can give directions by visualising a route, you have good spatial abilities. These are the skills that are being tested in non-verbal reasoning pre-tests and 11+ exams.
Spatial intelligence is divided into two parts:

  1. the ability to picture shapes or images in your mind
  2. the ability to mentally move it (or them) around

Spatial reasoning tests often include questions which ask children to look at shapes in three-dimensional space, either asking your child to imagine a 2D shape in 3D, or to imagine looking at 3D shapes from different perspectives. However, spatial abilities can also be tested using 2D questions. Typical questions of this type ask your child to work out how an image has been reflected, rotated or translated/changed position.

Why is this being tested?

Children with an aptitude for maths and science tend to have an aptitude for spatial reasoning, which is why these questions are being introduced more frequently. Natural ability is obviously a good start in these sorts of tests, but it is possible to improve performance using a range of techniques and by increasing familiarity through practice.

Hodder Education (formerly Galore Park) understand the difficulties many children face with these questions and have evolved their own teaching method for non-verbal reasoning that breaks down the questions into the maths skills needed to solve them. This teaching builds on work your child has already completed in school with clearly-explained answers that enable them to understand the most challenging spatial reasoning questions.

In addition, alternative methods of visualising problems (such as the diagram below, to remember how the sides of a cube join together) have been developed to help children bridge gaps in their understanding. Practical examples are also provided, suggesting how to practise skills with 3D shapes in everyday life, making this a particularly groundbreaking series.

What do the questions look like in the spatial reasoning tests?

The following examples are taken from the Hodder Education (formerly Galore Park) Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide, and show some of the most common questions your child will encounter in spatial reasoning tests.

1) Matching a net to a cube
Find the cube that can be made from the net shown on the left. 

2) Matching a 3D picture to a plan view
Find the plan view that represents the 3D picture. 

The question types above – matching 2D and 3D shapes - are introduced and explained in Chapter 2 (Numbers, shapes and relationships) of the Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide.

3) Spotting a rotated 3D shape

Identify the letter next to each question (1-5) that matches up with the rotated picture a to e.

4) Assembling a group of 3D shapes
Find the group of blocks that makes the assembled picture at the left side.  

Questions about 3D shapes that have been assembled or rotated are introduced and explained in Chapter 3 (Position and direction) of the Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide.

To purchase the Non-Verbal Reasoning Study and Revision Guide, or any of the other new resources in the non-verbal range, click here.

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