Year 1 GA

Year 1 GA


General Ability tests examine general knowledge and your ability to think and reason, in a quick and accurate manner. Although General Ability is not an actual school subject, like English or Mathematics, these questions are based on normal classroom subject matter and experience.

Your reasoning skills and strategies are tested in key areas such as general literacy, numeracy, visualising shapes, patterns and relationships. You will also be tested on your ability to manipulate words, numbers and/or shapes.

The types of questions that usually appear in the General Ability section of the paper include:

  • Codes which involve puzzles with letters and numbers that make words
  • Figure sequences which involve a secret pattern
  • Arranging mixed up words to make a sentence
  • Analogies which ask students to look for the relationship between pairs of words
  • Word knowledge problems that test student’s vocabulary.

For this section of the paper, you are not required to study these areas for the test. You may be required to use some general knowledge that you are expected to know but otherwise, all the information you need to answer the questions will be contained in the question. However, it is also important that you be aware of the wider world around you and the school environment. Most of the General Ability questions test your ability to reason, not how much you know.


General Ability or General Aptitude testing is conducted to determine and examine the extent of a student’s ability to think and reason. As a result, different sets of skills may have to be utilised when preparing for General Ability questions. A higher than average level of individual intelligence is a necessary attribute to possess, in order to do well in this section.

Intelligence is the capacity a person has to learn and understand. The ability of one’s mind varies from person to person but intelligence remains the same throughout each individual’s lifetime. Testing intelligence means testing the child’s ability to respond and adapt to new situations, to think abstractly and to comprehend complex ideas. IQ tests and general ability questions help to measure human intelligence, separate from attainments.

Since 2005, a greater importance has been placed on the General Ability component of the Opportunity Class Placement exam. Generally, students who do well in this section of the test usually have a higher than average Intelligence Quotient (IQ). General ability questions are used to determine the level of your child’s IQ. These questions also help to ascertain the extent of the student’s vocabulary, general knowledge and his/her skills in calculation and logical reasoning.

It is possible to improve on your performance in general ability tests by practicing the types of questions that will appear in the actual exam. Many of these questions are not culturally based and as a result, they can measure one’s ability to think and reason more accurately. To maximise your outcome in this section of the paper, students can try practising using questions found in IQ tests. Students are then able to familiarise themselves with the type of thinking required.


Please note that sometimes a certain type of question can apply to more than one ability area. For example, ‘odd one out’ questions were mentioned under Verbal Ability Questions but numbers or shapes instead of words can also be used. Hence, ‘odd one out’ questions can test your verbal and/or numerical and/or spatial ability. The various types of questions that test the extent of your capability in the above 4 ability areas are outlined below.

Synonyms are words that are similar in meaning. Both synonyms and antonyms test your knowledge of words and can help to broaden and expand your vocabulary. However, some words can have multiple meanings and can be utilised in many different ways, so if you are unsure, try using the words in sentences.

Unlike synonyms, antonyms are words that are opposite in meaning to each other. These questions test your word knowledge and the extent of your vocabulary. When answering these questions, make sure the answer you have chosen is in the same part of speech as the given word (for example, the words laugh and cry are antonyms, but laughter and cry are different parts of speech). Remember, wide reading will prove to be very helpful with these questions, as will knowledge of prefixes (for example ‘un-‘, as in unable).

Analogies are partial similarities between two or more things, which form the basis for a comparison. An example of an analogy is hot is to cold as fast is to slow. Remember that your answers should be in the same part of speech as the word given in the question.

In General Ability (GA) tests, cloze exercises are often used to test your comprehension.

For these exercises, you are required to find the best word to go in the blank space. After you have chosen a word, it is best to read the whole sentence again to see if it makes sense.

In some GA tests, you may get questions that give you a list of words. These questions require you to choose the word that is most different from all the other words in the list.

Mid-terms are included in GA tests to examine your verbal skills. In these questions, you are shown two groups of words. The first group has three words, the second group also has three words but one of them is missing. You must find the missing word by comparing the two groups of words.

Links also test your verbal skills. You are given two words and to answer this question correctly, you will need to find a word that has two meanings. The word you choose must match the meaning of the first word you are given, as well as the second.

For these questions, you are given two words. You need to find a ‘common term’ that makes sense when combined after the first word AND before the second word. This creates two new terms.

These types of questions test your knowledge of the meaning of words. They can be words that you are both familiar and unfamiliar with. The words are not given to you in sentences. It is hard to study for this section. If you have read a lot and you have a good vocabulary, this section will be easier.

Anagrams are formed by changing the order of letters in one word in order to make a new word. You need to move the letters around and try to make a new word. It helps if you have a good vocabulary.

Sequencing questions in GA tests require you to put pictures or sentences in an order that makes the most sense or best fits in the sequence. This section is usually done with sentences.

Equations are also known as ‘number sentences’. In an equation, one side must equal the other side. An equal sign (=) joins the two sides.

A series is a set of numbers that is in a specific order. A series can ascend or descend, sometimes even both. In these questions, you must look at each number in the series given and see if you can spot the rule that connects them. Once you have figured out the rule, use that rule to work out the number that would come next in the series.

Shapes are often used in GA tests to make number patterns.

In spot the difference questions, you are usually given two very similar pictures. You need to find the specified number of differences (as stated in the question) that the second picture has compared to the first picture. Sometimes the differences are small, so examine the pictures very carefully.

In transformation – rotation questions, you are required to use your imagination. You will need to visualise the given shapes in different positions by rotating them in your mind. If you are having troubled imagining the different rotations (or turns), it might help if you draw the shapes on a piece of paper and rotate the shape as instructed in the question.

Transformation – Reflection questions also require you to visualise shapes in different positions. Reflections are also referred to as mirror images. When preparing for an exam and you are having trouble visualising the different reflections, try drawing the various shapes and hold them up to a mirror, to get an idea of what the shapes would look like if they were reflected. However, keep in mind that you will not be able to do this in the actual exam.

This type of question will require you to visualise shapes that go together, or fit spaces like jigsaw pieces. Sometimes the shape will need to be rotated or flipped over.

Some questions in the GA test may ask you to count blocks that have been made into 3D shapes. You must be careful when doing these questions, as you may not be able to see all the blocks. Other questions may ask you to imagine you are looking at the shape from a different angle or from another position, like from above or from the side. To develop the skills needed to complete these types of questions, try making 3D shapes using centicubes or Lego.

Logic questions are commonly found in GA tests. You will need to read the information given and draw certain conclusions from it. Your reasoning skills and your verbal skills are being tested in these questions. Drawing simple diagrams, from the information given, may help you to answer logic questions.

General knowledge questions can test you on anything. These questions test you on knowledge you have learned at home, at school, or anywhere else. As a result, it is almost impossible to study for this section. You can learn things that might be tested in general knowledge questions in any part of your everyday life.

An idiom is a speech form or an expression peculiar to a particular language that is exclusive to itself grammatically, or cannot be understood outside of the context in which it was founded. Idioms may appear in GA tests. These questions will require you to form common idioms. Therefore, it is advised that you should familiarise yourself with commonly used idioms.

In these questions, you will be given a number of similar shapes or objects. You need to find two shapes, among the shapes given, that are identical.