How to Prepare for the OC Thinking Skills Test
This article breaks down all you need to know about preparing your child for the Opportunity Class Thinking Skills Test.
The key takeaways:
- The exam has 30 multiple-choice questions for 30 minutes of work.
- Thinking Skills assesses students’ reasoning skills through a combination of worded and visual problems. The exam is designed to not be ROTE-learnt.
- Students should prepare for the test by practising OC-style questions, honing in on their weaknesses and gradually working their way up to working under timed conditions.
- Two additional tips for students to maximise their results is to have verbal discussions on the questions in small study groups and to hone in on their mental maths skills.
For the OC Thinking Skills Exam:
- There are 30 multiple-choice questions.
- The exam is completed in 30 minutes.
Students only have 1 minute to answer each question. There is no additional reading time and no calculators are allowed.
What is Assessed in Thinking Skills?
As mentioned in our previous article on the OC Placement Test, Thinking Skills is a subject that is unique to the OC and Selective Schools Placement Tests. It is not part of the normal Australian Curriculum, meaning that students will not have come across any of the assessable content at school.
Thinking Skills assesses students’ critical thinking skills through worded and visual reasoning problems. Out of the three subject areas assessed in the OC Placement Test, Thinking Skills is the area that is most designed to not be ROTE-learnt.
The Thinking Skills exam broadly assesses four main topic areas although questions in some categories might overlap. These topic areas are:
- Logical reasoning: Logical application of rules, arguments, arrangements, analogies, estimation, strategy and logical fallacies.
- Deductive and inductive reasoning: Deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, hypothesis and syllogism.
- Mutually-exclusive events: Mutually and non-mutually exclusive events and false dichotomies.
- Visual reasoning: Picture completion, spatial relationships and 3D shapes.
Here is an example of a worded question students might see in the exam. This question is a logical reasoning question that assesses a student’s ability to order objects or events in arrangements.
The following information refers to food eaten over four week days: Monday – Thursday.
Rice is eaten twice on three days but once on Wednesday. Dixit eats noodles on Monday and Shanti has them on Wednesday. Pasta is not eaten on Mondays. Xanthi eats pasta on two days. Jinbu has baked vegetables three days after Xanthi. Both Jinbu and Xanthi eat rice the day before they first eat pasta. Shanti eats baked vegetables one day before Dixit, but not on Monday.
From the information given, which of the following is not correct?
A) Jinbu eats pasta on Tuesday
B) Xanthi eats pasta on Thursday
C) Shanti has rice on Tuesday
D) Dixit has rice on Tuesday and Thursday
The next example is a visual reasoning question where students must complete the picture or pattern.
The pattern below is missing a piece marked in red.
Which of the pieces below complete the pattern?
How to Prepare for the Test
Performing well in Thinking Skills comes down to students developing their logical reasoning skills. These skills can only be developed through targeted practice.
Here are three steps students can take to prepare for the test.
Step 1: Practise Thinking Skills exercises
Students should start their test preparation by doing the following:
- Familiarising themselves with the types of questions assessed.
- Practising workbook questions.
The first thing students should do is become familiar with all the topics assessed in the Thinking Skills Test. The best way for students to do this is to skim-read exercises from OC Test Preparation books.
Students should then start practising OC-style Thinking Skills workbook exercises. They should ignore test time for now and focus on applying problem-solving techniques to get the question correct.
An important point to remember is that there is often more than one way of solving a problem. Some methods are faster and easier than others. Therefore, students should experiment with different methods of solving problems to see which method gets the correct answer the fastest.
Students can find OC-style Thinking Skills exercises in workbooks available from education book stores.
Step 2: Pinpoint weaknesses
After students have practised, students should then pinpoint which style of question they have the most difficulty answering. From there, students should prioritise exercises that assess subject areas they are least confident in. This encourages ‘quality practice’ over quantity.
Step 3: Ease into completing exams under timed conditions
The Thinking Skills exam is time pressed with students only having 1 minute to earn 1 mark. Students need to learn how to answer questions quickly while maintaining high levels of accuracy.
This does not mean that students should complete full-length exams from Day 1. Rather, they should “build up” to completing full-length exams by starting small and working their way up to 30 questions in 30 minutes.
Students can achieve this by starting small. They can start by completing half an exam to ease into time pressure (i.e. 15 questions in 15 minutes). Starting small will help students develop confidence and speed in a way that isn’t overwhelming.
From there, students can gradually introduce more questions, continuing with 20 questions, 25 questions and concluding with 30 questions.
Extra Tips For Students to Maximise their Results
Here are two additional things students can do to maximise their results.
- Have verbal discussions of different questions in small groups. Verbal discussion is important for two reasons. Firstly, it forces students to learn how to articulate their thinking process, thereby consolidating their knowledge. And secondly, this provides a great opportunity for students to share different methods of solving problems and to learn from each other. This will significantly help students learn faster and easier when studying for the test.
- Hone in on their mental maths skills. This tip is to help students complete questions faster and more efficiently. Some Thinking Skills questions require students to make quick mathematical calculations. Therefore, students should be familiar with how to complete addition, subtraction, multiplication and division without the need for a calculator or strenuous working with long algorithms. They should also know all their times tables by heart.