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Verbal Reasoning: The Key to Academic Success

December 9, 2014

verbal reasoning

Note: This is one of a 10 blog series on learning traits. Read about all 10 learning traits here.

Verbal reasoning is the skill most highly correlated with academic achievement in grades K-12. Nothing else comes close. If you want to help your students succeed in school, keep reading.

What is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning is the ability to understand what you read or hear. It includes drawing conclusions from limited information and developing an understanding of how new ideas connect to what you already know. We use this skill in and out of school.

Why is Verbal Reasoning so important?

Most of in-school learning involves listening to the teacher or reading, skills that rely heavily on verbal reasoning. Following directions in kindergarten, learning to read, and reading to learn beyond third grade all depend on verbal reasoning.  As you might guess, verbal reasoning can be just as important in math and science class as it is in English and history. In fact, verbal reasoning is the skill most highly correlated with standardized test scores in math all the way through high school!

Is my student struggling with Verbal Reasoning?

You might notice signs of a student struggling with verbal reasoning skills in a variety of situations. You might notice a child who doesn’t follow along in conversations. She might ask you to repeat things or ask for clarification more often than expected. This child may be reading books below grade level or taking longer to read than expected. Verbal reasoning difficulties can also affect math, as they are essential for understanding new concepts as well as understanding and answering word problems.

What to do if you think your student needs help with Verbal Reasoning?

Given the importance of verbal reasoning, if you suspect your child is struggling with verbal reasoning you should discuss your concerns with a school counselor or your pediatrician. Since difficulties with verbal memory, abstract reasoning, or working memory could look like verbal reasoning difficulties, make sure they use an objective test, not just observation. If you are uncomfortable talking to someone but have concerns, try a verbal reasoning test at home and then make a decision if you need to speak with a professional.

How to Support Verbal Reasoning

If your student’s verbal reasoning is fine but you’d like to strengthen it, There are plenty of word association games you can play to strengthen verbal reasoning skills. Reading aloud and discussing the story will also develop verbal reasoning. Also rely on their stronger skills. If your cognitive screener indicates that their visual reasoning skills are stronger, teach them how to use pictures and visual imagery will help. If their memory is stronger, they can rely on that. Every student is different, and the strategies will depend on their unique combination of strengths and needs.

Check out our verbal reasoning test.


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