Codes Questions

At first sight codes can appear to be some of the hardest NVR question types as they require many different levels of deduction to be made at the same time. However they can be completed when taken logically and step by step and when solved correctly, prove strangely satisfying!

There are two main ways of setting out code questions, in a box grid as below or in a line with letters below the symbols but for both the logic is the same.

The skill is working out what element of the symbols the code letters in the grid, or the letters next to the symbols, relate to and applying this to work out the missing code letters for the answer symbol.

You need to look at the elements of the symbols in relation to outlines, shading, line thickness, orientation (i.e. which direction the symbol is ‘pointing’), size, and position in relation to other parts of the main symbol. The number of each of these elements is important too.
In fact, you need to observe all the usual NVR suspects!

atestingtime Non Verbal Reasoning test papers Codes

What observations do we notice about these usual suspects in this example?

  1. all 3 clue symbols have a solid external black line – discount as looking for differences
  2. all 3 clue symbols have a white fill – again, discount as looking for differences
  3. all 3 clue symbols have different outline shapes from each other, a star, a cross and a diamond
  4. the 2nd clue symbol, the cross, is the same as the answer symbols outline shape
  5. the 2nd and 3rd clue symbols contain identical arrow heads
  6. the answer symbols thin arrow matches the thin arrow inside the 1st clue symbol

What logical steps can we make when we apply these observations to the code letters?

  • All 3 top letter codes are different – L M N
  • 2 of the lower 3 letter codes are repeated – U V V
  • As the 3 clue shapes are different (observation 3 above) does the top letter code represent the shape? L = star, M = hollow cross, N = diamond?
  • Following observation 4, the answer symbols top letter code will be M
  • Observation 5 suggests that the lower letter code represents the arrow part of the symbol.
  • Observation 6 tells us that the lower letter code for the answer shape will be from the first clue shape – a U


We now need a letter code answer of M and U leading us to answer b