Logical reasoning tests are used by recruiters to assess the way a candidate interprets patterns, number sequences and the relationships between shapes. No previous knowledge is needed; instead a candidate needs to be able to take limited information and identify patterns logically to find the correct answer.

Logical reasoning tests are often administered as part of the application process for roles that need problem-solving skills, such as management jobs in finance and law.

Different types of logical reasoning test

Deductive reasoning

Deductive reasoning tests are usually a series of word problems consisting of an argument, scenario or number of stated facts, followed by a set of possible answers. Logically only one answer can be true, and you must make a deduction to find it.

Inductive reasoning

Inductive reasoning assessments present information in the form of patterns, shapes, diagrams and sequences, and you need to infer the answer (find the probable conclusion) to identify either the odd one out, the missing part of a pattern or the next part of a sequence.

Diagrammatic reasoning

Diagrammatic reasoning is another visual problem type, where a diagram with input and output is provided. You need to make logical connections about which of the given processes would achieve the required effect, which requires lateral thinking and logical deduction.

Critical reasoning

Critical reasoning tests are word-based scenarios where you are presented with arguments, evidence or conclusions. You’ll need to analyse the strength of the arguments, find the assumption, and make deductions or inferences.

Abstract reasoning

Abstract reasoning is a term that is used for visual problems like inductive and diagrammatic reasoning.

Whichever test you are taking, the need for quick, concise and logical thought processes is important to be successful. Check out our ten tips below for advice on how to maximise your performance in a logical reasoning test.

logical reasoning test tips

Step 1: Know what type of logical test you're taking

When you are asked to complete a logical reasoning test as part of your application, you need to know what type of test it will be. You can find out from the recruiter prior to the test which of the tests mentioned above they use. This will help you to focus your practice.

Step 2: Use elimination techniques

When speed is of the essence, you need to work in an effective way that ensures you can answer as many questions as necessary. One technique is to immediately eliminate the answers that cannot be correct.

To do this, glance quickly at the series of patterns in front of you and then look at the potential answers. Are any of them clearly not right? (eg if every pattern contains a circle but one of the answer options does not). Eliminate that before tackling the question.

Step 3: Establish the pattern

Whether you are looking at an argument, scenario or a series of pictures, establishing the rules and working out what the pattern is should be the first step after using the elimination technique above. There may be more than one pattern or rule; in this case, methodically check them one at a time.

Step 4: Beware of distractors

Not all the information provided in a logical reasoning question may be relevant. These ‘distractors’ could cause faults to appear in your logic, so it is important that when you are studying the given information you assess what is relevant – then ignore what is not.

Step 5: Make logic practice an everyday activity

There are practical (and fun) ways to improve your logical thinking. Completing puzzles like sudoku or crosswords is an interesting way to engage your logical mind and practice your reasoning skills.

Step 6: Find out the test publisher

Certain test publishers have logical reasoning tests in their assessment packages, like SHL, Aon and Talent Q. Identifying the publisher for the test you’ll take can help you prepare by practicing tests that have the right format and layout.

Step 7: Follow the instructions

Whichever test provider has published the assessment, there will be clear instructions provided on how to complete the questions, including the right way to answer. Take time to read all the guidance carefully, and make the most of any practice questions provided too.

Step 8: Create a process

As you practice, you’ll discover the best way for you to quickly work through the questions: this is your ‘game plan’. For example, your process might be to read the information or study the image, then picture the correct answer before checking whether it is among the multiple-choice answers.

Step 9: Timing is critical

Logical reasoning tests are almost always timed, and if you spend too long on one question you might not have enough time to complete all the questions. Work out how long you have for each question so that you know when it is time to move on.

Step 10: Don't assume the same rule won't appear twice

Often, test providers will make your job harder by making the same rule the correct answer more than once. Keep that in the back of your mind and don’t assume it won’t happen.

If a shape is shaded, oriented or angled the same as in a previous question, it doesn’t mean it can’t be the correct answer twice. Following your own logic and intuition is more important than trying to guess how a test provider works.