Inductive reasoning tests assess a candidate’s ability to read, analyse and understand information, then make generalisations based on this information to answer the questions that follow.

These types of tests assess a candidate’s problem-solving capabilities and are particularly useful for roles such as those in IT or engineering, where making logical-based assumptions is required.

Many candidates find inductive reasoning tests challenging as the information can be presented in various abstract formats such as patterns, shapes, or odd-one-out sets. Additionally, inductive reasoning tests are sometimes assessed on the speed of answering the questions as well as the accuracy of answers.

In addition to practicing the tests, there are several things you can do to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability when you sit your inductive reasoning test. Here are ten tips that may help:

Step 1: If you don't know, take an educated guess

Inductive reasoning tests are timed tests, so ensure that you complete as many of the questions as possible. If you aren’t sure of an answer, mark your best guess and then move on to the following questions. Taking this approach means that you use all of the time available to answer as many questions as you can.

Step 2: Remain calm and focused

When practicing the tests, ensure that you do so under timed test conditions. Simulating test conditions means that you become familiar with how you react when faced with the time pressure that a timed inductive test brings.

If you can’t answer a question, don’t panic: keep calm, and remember that there are many questions in the test to complete. Remaining calm and focused on the task ahead means that you let your natural problem-solving ability come through.

Step 3: Look out for more than one rule

Be mindful when completing inductive reasoning tests that the information presented may follow more than one rule, pattern, or relationship.

Make sure that you have thoroughly reviewed all of the information presented and don’t make assumptions. Ensuring you are clear on whether or not more than one rule or pattern has been used will save you time in the long run, when determining which of the multiple-choice answers is correct.

Step 4: Develop a strategy

When faced with abstract information, it’s easy to panic and lose focus. Having a strategy to help you tackle these questions means that even if you find a question challenging, you can adopt your preferred approach to solve the problem.

Examples of strategies include: breaking the shape down into smaller pieces; and looking at the answers to find rules or patterns and work backwards.

Step 5: Look out for distractors

Inductive reasoning questions often contain information that isn’t relevant to the question being asked. This information is often termed ‘distractor’ information.

To help spot this, look for one common element: a shape, pattern, or sequence. Once you’ve identified any distractor information, you can eliminate it and focus on the information that helps to solve the problem.

Step 6: Pace yourself

One way to do this is to work out how much time you should spend on each question. There may be some questions that you can answer relatively quickly within the timeframe you’ve set for each question. If you haven’t figured out the answer to a question in the time frame, move on to the next question.

Step 7: Read the instructions carefully

As with all assessments, it’s essential to read the instructions carefully and ensure that you understand what is being asked prior to commencing the test. This is especially important if you have previously completed an inductive reasoning test, when you might be tempted to get started and skim-read the instructions.

Step 8: Establish the pattern

Inductive reasoning tests include abstract information, which can be overwhelming to deal with, especially if you aren’t good at visualising shapes.

To help process and make sense of the information presented, try to establish a pattern. That could be how shapes are arranged and then changed through the transformation of the shape. Or the sequence of colours, and what factors affected this as the sequence progresses.

Step 9: Use elimination techniques

Inductive reasoning tests contain a lot of abstract information, some that is relevant to the question, and some that isn’t. Spotting which information is irrelevant and eliminating this information can help you focus on solving the problem.

Step 10: Don't dwell on a question

While it’s tempting to spend time trying to figure out the answer to every question, you need to be mindful of time. If you are struggling with a question, accept this, mark your best guess and move on to the next question.