Talents of children with poor verbal skills overlooked

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Learners with high spatial abilities, who tend to think initially in images before converting them into words, can excel in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

 

 

However, if these learners also have poor verbal reasoning skills, this can have a detrimental effect on their exam scores and subsequent careers, according to a report by testing company GL Assessment.

The analysis of more than 20,000 pupils, conducted by GL Assessment, has revealed that well over four-fifths of children who had both high spatial and high verbal reasoning abilities achieved A*-B across all STEM subjects and English at GCSE last year. But children with high spatial abilities and poor verbal reasoning skills – approximately 4 per cent of the school population or 30,000 at GCSE level – significantly underperformed.

The gap in exam performance is not confined to English or the humanities. There is also a significant, if less pronounced, divergence in maths and science subjects in which children with high spatial abilities tend to excel.

In last year’s maths GCSE, for instance, 89 per cent of children with good spatial and verbal abilities achieved an A*-B. Conversely, only 52 per cent of those with high spatial abilities but poor verbal skills achieved the same, a 37 percentage-point difference.

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