Non-verbal reasoning tests use shapes, patterns, pictures and diagrams to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to keep calm under pressure.
Encompassing logical, deductive and inductive reasoning tests (among others), the content of the non-verbal tests varies slightly depending on which test you’re taking.
Questions on a non-verbal test could be anything from which shape is the odd one out, to how to solve a sequence of patterns using only limited information, or showing your understanding of mirror images and reflections.
Non-verbal tests are a popular recruitment tool in industries such as engineering, tech and architecture, where an aptitude for problem-solving and a strong knowledge of different shapes will serve you well.
These tests can be challenging, since they involve working quickly and responding to problems that you might not have encountered before, so it’s always good to prepare yourself as best you can.
We’ve put together these ten tips to help you do just that.
1. Ensure you know which non-verbal test you’re taking
There are lots of different types of non-verbal tests, the most common being:
While there may be some crossover in the content of the questions being asked, each test requires a slightly different set of skills. As such, it’s really important you know exactly which one you’ll be taking, so you can practice the right one.
2. Get practicing
The best way to prepare for any type of non-verbal test is to practice as many examples as you can.
This will help you get better at answering the questions themselves, and will improve your speed and accuracy and ensure you know what to expect on the day.
3. Take practice tests in exam conditions
Set yourself up in a quiet room that’s free from distractions (including your phone). Try to ensure the room is well lit and that you have everything you need to complete the test before you start.
Whenever you take a test, make sure you time it, so you get used to working through the questions at the pace required of you.
Don’t be tempted to look anything up or only complete a few questions. The quicker you get into the habit of taking the test in exam style conditions, the easier you’ll find it on the day it counts.
4. Review your work
After you’ve finished taking a practice test, it’s important to go over your answers to assess how you did and which areas you may need to work harder on.
This is the best way to really focus your revision and ensure your time and energy is being spent in the right place.
5. Take regular breaks
Practicing past tests is mentally challenging. That’s why it’s so important to take regular breaks. Not only will it help your mind to reset and feel refreshed and ready for your next revision session, it’ll also stop you from getting bored and distracted.
If you can, get outside in the fresh air or do something relaxing that will take your mind off the test.
6. Use elimination techniques
No matter how hard you work or how much revision you do, it’s likely that there’ll be at least one question you find challenging on the day.
Rather than panicking or guessing, see if you can get rid of a few multiple-choice answers that are definitely wrong using a process of elimination.
If you’re left with only a couple of options, it will make it much easier to select the correct answer.
7. Break things down
If you’re given a complicated pattern or shape and you’re struggling to decipher it, try to compartmentalise it and look at just one small section at a time.
Firstly, this can make understanding the whole shape a bit easier, but it can also help you to spot patterns or sequences more easily.
8. Practice in non-obvious ways
Practicing for a non-verbal reasoning test doesn’t have to mean sitting endless past papers. There are plenty of ways you can bolster your learning without even realising you’re doing it.
Why not find a computer game that requires you to tessellate shapes, practice mirror images using an actual mirror, try a sudoku in the paper or even get out your old Lego set to work on your understanding of how shapes fit together.
9. Don’t dwell on tricky questions
As well as your ability to solve problems, you’re also being tested on how well you’re able to cope under time pressure.
With a very limited amount of time to answer each question, you won’t have time to dwell on anything too much, since it may cost you questions you could answer further on in the test.
If you’re unsure, make an educated guess and if you have time at the end, go back and see if you can work it out.
10. Don’t panic
And lastly, don’t panic. If you’ve put the preparation time in beforehand you have nothing to worry about. Everyone finds tests nerve-wracking and the most important thing is to do your best.
So, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can do it.