What is Cognitive Skills?

Cognitive skills are the mental capabilities that one needs to successfully learn academic subjects. In more details, cognitive skills are learning skills used to retain information; process, analyse, and store facts and feelings; and create mental pictures, read words, and understand concepts. They are not to be confused with academic subjects such as mathematics, science, or history.

Any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge; that includes attention, memory, producing and understanding language, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.

Working Memory

Working memory is a limited capacity part of the human memory system that combines the temporary storage and manipulate of information in the service of cognition. Short-term memory refers to information-storage without manipulation and is therefore a component of working memory. Working memory differs from long-term memory, a separate part of the memory system with a vast storage capacity that holds information in a relatively more stable form.


  • Incomplete recall
  • Easily distracted, inattentive or “Zoned out”
  • Reserved during group activities
  • Retain information
  • Fail to answer direct questions at times

Logic and Reasoning

Logic and Reasoning is what allows us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. Logic is important because it helps us reason correctly. Without correct reasoning, we don’t have a viable means for knowing the truth or arriving at sound beliefs.


  • Fails to note what is obvious to others
  • Poor in problem-solving skills
  • Usually unable to solve complex maths questions

Visual Processing

Visual Processing refers to ability to make sense of information taken in through the eyes. This is different from problems involving sight or sharpness of vision. Visual processing affects how information is interpreted or processed.


  • Struggle to read well
  • Spaced and messy in writing
  • Easily forget what they seen
  • Skipping words
  • Hard to understand language concepts
  • May affect maths skills
  • Poor spatial skills e.g. “b” and “d” , “on” and “no”

Processing Speed

The brain requires time and capacity to process information and plan an appropriate response. The duration of ‘thinking’ time is known as processing speed.


  • “Unmotivated” or “Lazy”
  • Not able to follow lengthy instructions or conversation
  • Slow in copying down information
  • Slow in retrieving information
  • Usually not able to multi task
  • Selective attention
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