Non Verbal Reasoning: Least Similar Shape

Eleven-Plus Preparation Specialists

Just as with questions that involve similarity, questions that involve a lack of similarity are much the same – you need to be able to see what aspects of the shapes are the same and which differ.

What does this question type involve?

You are provided with five figures. Each figure is an option – i.e. there is no further information given to you beyond the options themselves. Of the figures, one is least like the others – or, as you will see it written in the exam, it is most unlike the others.

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Example questions

Here’s a simple practice question taken from a sample paper.

Here, of the five shapes it should be quickly visible that four have five sides, while one option – option C – has four sides. Therefore C is least like the others.

Let’s take a look at a second sample question.

Here there are a few distractors, with both the heads of the arrows and their bodies being different. However, you should note that all the arrows point upwards apart from D, which points down – so D is the least like the others.

4+1 Steps: Shape, Rotations, Shading, Size, Position

We’ll use the normal four rules that work for non-verbal reasoning questions. That means looking at shape, rotations, shading, and size. We’ll also consider position.

First, look at the shapes. Is there one that is immediately different from the others? In the sample above, there are four types of shape that are the same (or similar) and one that is different.

Next, consider rotation. In the second sample above, we can see that all the arrows are rotated in one direction, whilst option D is rotated in the other direction. Of course, you should expect questions to feature much more complex versions of rotation than that.

Shading is next. In the second example above, it’s actually used as a distractor – in other words, it doesn’t point you to the answer. However, in many questions the shading will reveal which shape is least like the others.

Size is the next thing to consider. Often you will find that part of a compound shape differs in size from one option to the next – perhaps there is a smaller shape within the outer shape, and that smaller shape could be either ‘small’ or ‘medium’ for example.

Lastly, look at position. That means checking where shapes are on a line, where shapes are around the edges of another shape, etc.

Worked Implementation

Here’s a more difficult question. Let’s begin by looking at the shapes. There are two four sided shapes and two six sided shapes, as well as one 8 sided shape, so the overall shape isn’t the answer. However, we should also note the shapes around the shape – however, these don’t seem to have a relation to the central shape.

Rotation is interesting. In each, the smaller shapes are rotated so that they are 180 degrees opposed to one another – apart from in option C.

The shading is that half of the smaller shape is shaded each time, along the line where it intersects with the bigger shape. This fits with all the shapes bar C, because the shapes are not shaded symmetrically.

The size is not relevant throughout, and position isn’t either, as we’ve used rotation and shading to differentiate the smaller shapes.

Therefore the correct answer – the shape that is least like the others – is option C.

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Top Tricks

Expect the questions to introduce multiple levels of complexity, some of which will be there simply to trick you or cause you to waste time. For example, there might be shapes that rotated, have particular shading, and multiple shapes in set positions around them – yet in reality the different shape has one part that is smaller, for example. You must therefore work through each possible factor in turn, and try to avoid taking on everything at once.

Common Pitfalls

As above, don’t try to solve an entire puzzle at once if you don’t quickly spot it – work logically instead.


Your typical rules of shape, rotation, shading and size will be key to this question type. Look at position as well, as this is a simple way to differentiate compound shapes from one another.
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