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non-verbal reasoning

Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests

  • 30 tests
  • 300 questions
non-verbal reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning tests encompass a range of psychometric aptitude tests, all aimed at identifying your capacity to recognise relationships between shapes and patterns using logic. They also assess your ability to visualise movements in 2D and 3D shapes.

What is a non-verbal reasoning test?

Non-verbal reasoning tests assess a candidate’s intelligence and ability to apply reasoning and logic. They require applicants to interpret visual information and recognise patterns and rules.

This might include finding relationships between shapes and patterns, or recognising a visual sequence and identifying what will come next. Crucially, the tests do not assess language skills; verbal competency is not needed to solve the problems.

The questions are also based on information that will be new to all applicants, so no prior knowledge is necessary.

Why do employers use non-verbal reasoning tests?

Non-verbal reasoning tests are widely regarded as a good measure of a candidate’s general intelligence and capacity to solve problems. Problem-solving is a crucial skill in any workplace, so many employers see these tests as an effective way to help identify the best candidates.

They are particularly favoured by employers recruiting for roles that require a high degree of technical ability and may also be used to assess leadership potential, for instance in graduate recruitment schemes.

Because the tests do not require candidates to draw on any prior knowledge or learned skills, such as language, they can be a better measure of innate talent or potential than other types of assessment. They are also useful for roles where applicants speak different languages, as they can all take the same test on an equal footing.

Types of non-verbal reasoning tests

As mentioned earlier, ‘non-verbal reasoning’ is an umbrella term for a number of different aptitude tests. Broadly speaking these fall into two categories:

1) Tests where the candidate must understand the logic or pattern behind a sequence of shapes. Tests of this type may be referred to by various names, including diagrammatic, abstract, inductive and logical reasoning.

2) Tests that measure a candidate’s spatial awareness and ability to visualise changes and movements in 2D and 3D shapes. These are known as spatial reasoning or spatial awareness tests.

Let’s look at each of those test types in more detail:

Diagrammatic reasoning tests

These assess a candidate’s ability to think logically by presenting problems in the form of diagrams. You will need to study a flow chart or series of diagrams to work out the rules governing them, and then apply those to new situations.

The test is timed and generally candidates will have half an hour to complete 20 questions, with the problems becoming progressively more difficult. Our article on diagrammatic reasoning tests provides more detail on what to expect, along with free example questions.

Inductive reasoning tests

Inductive reasoning tests also require candidates to apply their logical skills to solve visual problems. The applicant must look for patterns, relationships and similarities in a series of images and then choose an answer which fits best with these.

In inductive reasoning the solution is only probable, based on the information provided, as opposed to deductive reasoning where the solution is certain. Again, the tests are taken under strict time constraints so candidates must work quickly and accurately.

Read our article for more on inductive reasoning tests and to try free practice questions.

Abstract reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning tests are similar to inductive reasoning tests and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. You will be presented with a collection of patterns or shapes and must find how they are related – for instance in terms of shape, colour or size.

You must then apply this relationship to answer questions, which might include selecting the correct option to complete a sequence or deciding which image is the odd one out. You will have a minute or less to solve each problem, so must be able to apply your lateral thinking skills at speed.

Check out our full article on abstract reasoning tests, where you can also try some example questions.

Spatial awareness tests

Also known as spatial reasoning tests, these types of questions assess your ability to manipulate shapes in your mind, visualising how they may change or move.

They may be used in jobs where you will need to create or interpret drawings and plans, such as design or engineering, as well as for jobs in the police or military.

Questions may refer to two- or three-dimensional shapes and could involve reflection, rotation or assembling and disassembling shapes. This article on spatial reasoning tests explains the tests further and also includes some example questions.

How to prepare for a non-verbal reasoning test

Practice. While non-verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess general intelligence and do not require prior knowledge, you will undoubtedly do better if you know what to expect and have practised example questions.

Find out what type of test you will be set and then complete as many relevant practice tests as you can. If you are familiar with the questions, you will be able to think much more calmly and clearly on the day.

Learn from your mistakes. Make sure you check back through every test for errors and work on improving your accuracy. Note which types of questions you struggle with the most and focus on developing strategies for approaching these.

Try your hand at puzzles. As well as doing practice tests, problem-solving puzzles are another good way to develop your logical and reasoning skills. Look for puzzle books and apps that include a range of different types of puzzles.

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Free Practice Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the kinds of questions you may face in a non-verbal reasoning test, and to practise applying the logic and reasoning skills you need to do well.

Below we have provided a sample question for each of the different types of non-verbal reasoning test. Answers and worked solutions are below the questions.

Example diagrammatic question

Which is the next logical image in the sequence?

diagrammatic reasoning practice question

Example inductive question

Which of the suggested shapes shares a feature with the given shapes?

inductive reasoning practice question

Example abstract question

Which of the boxes comes next in the sequence?

abstract reasoning practice question

Example spatial question

Which of the given shapes is the unfolded net of the 3D shape?

spatial awareness practice question


Diagrammatic question: There are two figures: a triangle and a circle. At each step in the series both the circle and the triangle move a step down a vertical line. As each shape reaches the bottom of a block it returns to the top of the next block. So the answer is B.

Inductive question: All of the given shapes have 1 line of symmetry, meaning C is the only shape that could be correct. A has none, B has multiple and D has 2.

Abstract question: Circle moves from top left of the frame, to the middle of the frame, then to the top right of the frame with each turn. Square moves around frame in a clockwise direction. So the correct answer is D.

Spatial question: You can pretty easily rule out A and D as they wouldn’t created a point at the top of the period. You can see that the base has equal length sides which rules out B and leaves you with the correct answer of C.

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How do you practice for a non-verbal reasoning test?

The best way to practise non-verbal reasoning is to find sample tests and questions online. Look for ones that are as similar as possible to the tests used by your recruiter and make sure you practise under timed conditions. Practice Aptitude Tests has a range of packages covering all types of aptitude tests, including non-verbal, as well as free sample questions.

How are non-verbal reasoning tests scored?

This depends on the test, but you will usually receive a raw score at the end which will then be compared to a normative group, or others taking the test alongside you. This means there is no pass mark, but that your result will depend on how well you performed in relation to others in the same group.

What comes under non-verbal reasoning?

Non-verbal reasoning refers to aptitude tests that assess a candidate’s ability to interpret visual information and solve problems using logic and reasoning. This could include identifying patterns and relationships in a sequence of shapes, or visualising how a shape may change. Diagrammatic reasoning, abstract reasoning, inductive reasoning and spatial awareness are all types of non-verbal reasoning tests.

Why is non-verbal reasoning important?

Employers often view non-verbal reasoning tests as an effective way to assess a candidate’s intelligence and creative thinking, as well their ability to solve problems and apply logic to new situations. These skills are important across a range of industries but non-verbal tests may be used particularly in recruiting for technical roles, as well as assessing leadership potential.


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Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests Tips

1Read the question carefully

Make sure you understand what you are being asked to do and pay close attention to the details.

2Be methodical

When looking for rules or patterns, examine each different element of the graphic as well as the configuration as a whole. Then apply the rules you have identified one at a time rather than all at once.

3Draw things out

Where you can, draw out possible shapes and patterns on a piece of paper before giving your answer. Ask for a pencil and paper if these are not provided.

4Manage your time effectively

Check how many questions there are and how long you will have to answer them. Then work out how much time you can allow yourself for each question and stick to this. Don’t waste precious seconds on a question you’re struggling with - move on and come back to it at the end if you have time.

5Have some strategies ready

Non-verbal reasoning questions are often based around common themes and rules. So while the problems may differ, the strategies you use to solve them will be the same. The more practice tests you do, the better you will become at developing these strategies and spotting where and when you can apply them.

Non-Verbal Reasoning Video Tutorials

Unfolding Shapes

1 min

Similar Shapes

1 min

Rotated Views

1 min

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