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abstract reasoning tests

Abstract Reasoning Tests

  • 10 tests
  • 100 questions
abstract reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning tests assess your ability to identify the relationships between a series of shapes, patterns or images. The test is a good indicator of strategic thinking, how quickly you pick up new concepts and how well you cope under pressure. As a result, it’s popular with a wide variety of employers.

What is an abstract reasoning test?

An abstract reasoning test uses shapes and patterns to assess your logic, fluid intelligence and problem-solving skills. You’ll be expected to quickly interpret a series of images to deduce the rule or pattern that connects them (for example, a repetition of colour, shape or size). Abstract tests are common for research, software development and engineering roles.

For example, you might be asked to select, out of a number of possible options, which image completes a sequence or statement of fact, which image is missing from the overall picture or which image doesn’t correlate to the others shown.

The answers on an abstract reasoning test are usually multiple choice, but don’t be fooled into thinking this makes the process easier — you need to work quickly and accurately to identify the rule governing the pattern and complete all of the questions on the test.

And to make things even more challenging, you will normally have a minute or less to answer each question.

In doing all of this, you showcase your ability to connect seemingly random images, patterns or shapes by using your logical abilities and fluid intelligence to spot patterns and relationships. Employers see this as a good indicator of your problem-solving skills and your ability to learn quickly.

Why do employers use abstract tests?

An abstract reasoning test signifies to an employer which candidates have the lateral thinking, problem solving and strategic thinking skills that are valuable in the workplace.

Most commonly it’s used in industries such as technology and engineering, as it helps give employers a better understanding of which candidates have the sharp minds and critical thinking skills needed to succeed in such fields.

Aptitude tests help exceptional candidates to stand out, and busy employers to quickly differentiate between applicants. This is why it’s so important to ensure you make time to practice and prepare if you’re about to take an abstract reasoning test — it will help you hone your skills and stand out against the competition.

The format of abstract reasoning tests

The abstract reasoning test is non-verbal and non-numerical; this means that what you’ll be presented with is shapes and patterns. The test questions will require you to identify the relationship between the images, or complete a sequence by determining what it is that connects the images.

You’ll answer by selecting the multiple-choice response you believe to be correct, and you’ll have around a minute or less to answer each question.

As you progress through the test, the questions tend to get more challenging, so it’s wise to leave a bit longer for problems towards the end of the test if you can.

Once the test has finished, your score will be calculated and then compared to your peers, or to a normative group. This helps the employer to see how hard the test you took was, and how well you fared compared to others in the room, or a group of people who have already successfully taken the test.

How best to prepare for an abstract test

Preparing for the abstract reasoning test is really important — particularly as the test may throw up challenges and problems you’ve not encountered before.

First, we recommend finding out as much information as you can from the employer or recruiter who’s setting the test. Information such as the test publisher can help you get one step ahead of the rest.

Practising past tests is the best way you can familiarise yourself with the wording and format of the questions, the speed at which you’ll need to answer, and the skills you need to hone.

We always recommend setting up a quiet working environment to take mock tests; one that’s free from distractions and noise. And it’s really important to time yourself — a significant part of the challenge is the speed at which you’ll need to answer every question.

Once you’ve completed a mock test, it’s time to see how you did. Take confidence from your strengths and note down your weaker areas so you know where to focus your energies.

Mock tests are the best way to prepare yourself for taking a real abstract reasoning test. But there are lots of other ways you can inject some variety into your preparation and ensure you’re working the areas of the brain you need to engage in the test.

Try brain-training games, puzzles or shape-based challenges; anything that requires you to solve problems under pressure. Inductive reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests are also worth practising, since the questions you’ll encounter on these tests are very similar.

You can find more tips here on how to succeed at the abstract reasoning test.

Common abstract reasoning test publishers

Below is a list of the major publishers of abstract reasoning tests. Click the links to find out more about each publisher.

Enquiring who publishes your test can give you an advantage, as you can familiarise yourself with the particular phrasing and formatting. That said, practising any type of abstract reasoning test will be beneficial.

Prepare yourself for leading employers

Free example abstract reasoning questions

Familiarising yourself with the type of questions you’ll find on the abstract reasoning test is an essential part of the preparation process — it will help you improve your speed, accuracy and confidence.

Below are three sample questions to give you an idea of how abstract reasoning questions work; have a go and see how you get on. Answers with workings are below the questions.

Question 1 Which of the boxes comes next in the sequence?

abstract reasoning practice question

Question 2 Which shape follows in the sequence?

abstract reasoning practice question

Question 2 Which box follows the sequence?

abstract reasoning practice question


Question 1: Circle, maintains same position in top right segment for one turn, and then is not present for the following three turns. Triangle, maintains same position in bottom left segment for one turn, and then is not present for the following two turns. So the answer is B).

Question 2: Diagonal line changes direction from top left corner to bottom right corner, then from top right corner to bottom left corner with each turn. Square moves around corner of the frame in an anti-clockwise direction with each turn. Circle appears on diagonal line in every third frame with each turn. So the answer is A).

Question 3: ’U’ shape rotates by 90 degrees with each turn. Circle changes position in the ’U’ shape as it appears in each segment with each turn. Triangle appears in same position within the ‘U’ shape on each alternate turn. So the answer is D).

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How are abstract reasoning tests scored?

Your abstract reasoning test is scored and then compared with a normative group (those who have previously taken the test). This allows employers to rank candidates, set a minimum cut-off point and take the difficulty of the test set into consideration when making their decision.

What skills are needed for abstract reasoning?

Abstract reasoning tests assess a wide range of skills, which is why they are such a useful hiring tool. Your aptitude for logical reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving and time management are all being scrutinised, as is your ability to keep calm under pressure. All of these skills are vital in a number of different industries.

Why are abstract reasoning tests hard?

The test needs to be challenging to help employers differentiate between large numbers of candidates. If it were easy, it wouldn’t indicate which people taking the test had better-than-average skills and abilities.

What do abstract reasoning tests measure?

Abstract reasoning tests measure fluid intelligence, much like an IQ test. As well as this, they showcase your ability to see patterns, think outside the box and solve problems quickly.

Where can I practice abstract reasoning tests?

This website is a good place to start! We have numerous aptitude tests you can practice, including abstract reasoning, as well as lots of additional hints, tips and tricks to help you succeed.

Which employers use abstract reasoning tests?

Research roles, software development, engineering, and various management positions are the types of jobs for which an abstract reasoning test is normally set. This is because these roles tend to require you to think logically, solve problems and pick up new ideas quickly on a day-to-day basis.


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Abstract Reasoning Tests Tips

1Do your research

First, check online which test types the company you’re applying for uses, the test publisher and anything else you think might give you the edge.

2Practice like it's the real deal

The value of practice when it comes to aptitude tests can never be underestimated, but it’s even more worthwhile if you practice in exam conditions. Find a quiet room, get everything you need together before you start, and time yourself for the duration of the test.

3Don't forget what you've learnt

Ensure your hard work pays off by taking it with you into the test. Keep a mental list of things you need to run through when you’re answering the questions: the different rules that you might be able to apply, or the strategies that might help you answer a problem quicker.

4Timing is critical

Work out how long, roughly, you have to answer each question. This will help ensure you don’t spend too long on a challenging problem at the expense of answering more questions. Remember that the problems often get harder as the test progresses.

5Vary your practice methods

As well as taking past tests, use puzzle apps and puzzle books to help you improve your abstract reasoning.

6Is the answer in front of you?

You can often find clues in the answers. Look for recurring patterns in the multiple-choice answers. This can help you to gauge what you should be looking out for.

7Stay calm

It’s easy to rush into answering the questions, but calmly and carefully reading through what you need to do can ensure you don’t get caught out by any trickier problems.

8Confidence is key

Preparing will help you feel confident on the day and confidence is key when it comes to aptitude tests.

Abstract Reasoning Video Tutorials

Unfolded Shapes

1 min

Similar Shapes

1 min

Rotated Views

1 min

Mirror Images

2 mins

Input Type

2 mins


2 mins

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