What exactly is reasoning?
Reasoning is problem solving; thinking in a logical way, whether it be with words and language (verbal reasoning) patterns, sequences, diagrams and numbers (non-verbal reasoning) or mathematical (quantitative reasoning). Children who are good at verbal reasoning are able to analyse and use language effectively, so are likely to do well in English and language based subjects. Children who are good at non-verbal reasoning are likely to be systems thinkers, which is essential to understanding maths. Reasoning fosters links in knowledge, which is what constitutes effective learning at any level and for any age group.
Why is reasoning so important?
In our rapidly changing world, simply preparing children to pass exams is not enough. We need to enable children to evaluate and interpret information, to work things out or find solutions independently and to use and adapt known strategies, facts and skills in solving new problems.
Reasoning is used for academic selection at 7+, 8+, 11+ and the ISEB Common Entrance Pre-Tests. The recent changes to the London 11+ Consortium Year 7 admissions process (11+) clearly reflects the increasing importance of reasoning. In-school assessments such as CAT tests or INCAS all measure reasoning ability.
Reasoning tests, also known as cognitive ability tests are increasingly used in all walks of life as they are found to be the strongest predictor of future job performance.
Can reasoning be improved?
Yes! Children can be taught how to best approach the types of questions typically presented in reasoning tests. Also, targeting underlying reasoning and thinking skills such as vocabulary and logical thinking though games and hand-on activities improves reasoning performance.
How can I help my child with reasoning at home?
Test practice, both computer and paper based is essential. However, simply getting your child to do endless tests at home can lead to rushing and careless mistakes, which can actually damage exam performance. Reasoning is best practiced a little, often with the best resources and should not be over-done.
Yours and your child’s time is precious, so you want to make sure that time spent on learning and preparing for exams at home is as effective and enjoyable as possible. Having your child’s reasoning ability assessed by a professional, qualified educational assessor is the best starting point.
Helene has taught for 30 years, has been a SENCO and has been teaching reasoning in leading London independent prep and pre-prep schools since 1994. As a fully qualified educational tester, she is member of the British Psychological Society and is on their list of registered testers. Working with children aged 4 to 11, Helene assesses individual’s reasoning ability using the best standardised reasoning assessments alongside pencil and paper tests and dynamic assessment methods. Together these generate a clear and objective snapshot of reasoning ability. The assessment is followed by a consultation/feedback session with parents. Specific strengths and weaknesses are highlighted. Parents are provided with a bespoke list of the best books, games and learning resources to boost the individual child’s reasoning skills.