Tag Archives: aptitude test design

In this Aptitude Test  Design tag, you can firstly find all of our most useful and up-to-date Aptitude test information.

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd specialises in designing highly predictive psychometric solutions. In particular, situational judgement test design, realistic job preview design, aptitude test design and personality questionnaire design.

You can find all of the tips and practice tests on our site. We hope you find both of these useful.

As aptitude tests are there to assess candidates’ abilities to perform certain tasks, this is a widely used form of assessment. It also assesses how a candidate responds to certain situations. Especially within recruitment. However also widely used in education. In both settings these assess ability

Psychometric assessments can

-Impact every aspect of an employee’s life cycle. This starts with hiring the best fit, culturally and role-wise, to training and becom

-Be used during the recruitment process provides a better understanding of a candidate, enabling securing the best fit for the role.

-Choose the correct fit is the fundamental objective of the recruitment process.

-Evaluate a candidate’s behavior, alongside aptitude.

Rob Williams Assessments’ tailor-made psychometric offerings are as unique as our clients’ organisations.

Our organisation prides itself on client satisfaction. We have many positive LinkedIn reviews from our big client projects.

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We cover both bespoke pretesting and bespoke screening tests. Screening tests can help you identify which applicants are a good match for the role and for your company culture.

These are more valid than cv’s which can leave recruiters to fill in the gaps between what’s written and what’s actually relevant. Skills tests during the application stage help filter out applicants who don’t have the skills you need. 

Continue reading Screening
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Numerical Reasoning Test Practice

Numerical Reasoning Test tips

Many medium-sized and large companies now use Numerical Reasoning Tests as part of their standard recruitment processes. A standardised Numerical Reasoning Test gives everyone the same numerical reasoning questions.

Our numerical reasoning test book 

Free numerical resoning test practice Buy numerical resoning test practice

Why test numerical reasoning?

Numerical Reasoning Tests need to accommodate the very wide difference in mathematical ability from school leavers to senior managers.  Correspondingly there is a range of increasingly difficult Numerical Reasoning Tests from the basic Numeracy Tests (which only require mathematical knowledge of the 4 basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) to the most complex and numerical reasoning involved in the interpretation of complex statitistical data.

Continue reading Numerical Reasoning Test Practice
Army situational judgement test. Army barracks with commander shouting at troupe.

Bespoke Situational Judgment Test Design

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd are specialists in bespoke situational judgement test design.

We led a UK-wide psychometric design project working closely with the British Army to create a full psychometric range of This included

  • Video based Army officer Situational judgement tests.
  • Realistic job previews for Army soldiers.

specification for SJT design

To provide potential candidates with realistic (face valid) situations they are likely to encounter, and feedback on their responses. Such highly informative feedback aims to improve candidates’ understanding of the demands of Army life.

Thus, better able to make informed judgements about their own suitability. As such, the SJTs are an important early selection filter, both for a candidate’s self-selection and as part of the advice given by Recruiting Officers.

More specifically, the “formative” aims of the SJTs from a candidate’s perspective are to:

  • firstly, identify likely suitability for undergoing and successfully completing Army training; and
  • Secondly, to broaden their understanding of the different demands of Army training (and future Army life).

How are situational judgment tests designed?

Medical schools, for example, use situational judgment tests to assess the temperament for managing high-pressure situations in the most moral, effective way possible. These situational judgment tests are unique to the medical school context. They use bespoke scenarios representing those critical incidents a doctor needs to know how to manage. It’s important to note that these SJTs don’t require extensive medical knowledge; rather they evaluate a candidate’s decision-making skills. 

Situational Judgement Design Exemplar

An example of our situational judgement design requirements for the Army Officer project:

  • The answer options for each situation are all different, so read them through carefully.
  • For each question, to indicate which action you consider would be best and worst.
  • To be honest about what you think you would do in each situation.
  • That you don’t need any Army experience to answer the questions, and:
  • The SJT is not timed, but most people take about 30 minutes to complete it.

Competency-based SJT Research basis

For example, drawing together previous situational judgement test research, with a particular emphasis on that of Riley and Walker-Smith (2006), the following areas were expected to emerge through the design process:

  • Discipline
  • Military awareness
  • Commitment
  • Sociability
  • Resilience

See this page for more info on the Army Situational judgement test design and the Officer Situational questions design.

Bespoke situational judgement test design

Situational Judgement Test Validity

SJTs have higher validity if respondents are asked what they ‘would do’ as opposed to what they ‘should do’ (Ployhart and Ehrhart, 2003). ‘Would do’ prompts were therefore used because they are more likely      to elicit responses that reflect respondents’ behavioural preferences, rather than their rating of what they consider would be the most appropriate thing to do (regardless of whether they would do this, or act otherwise).

Varying schools of thought exist with regard to response format. Whilst some authors argue that having ‘right’ as well as ‘wrong’ responses can make SJTs too obvious (Hauenstein et al, 2010), only scoring right options truncates the information available for scoring. Thus, we took the a priori decision to score both right and wrong options.

Psychometric Test Designs

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Our psychometric test designs

Strengths Design  ~ Realistic Job Preview Design ~ Personality Test Design ~ Situational Judgment Test Design ~ Psychometric Test Design.

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Practice tests

Welcome to our aptitude tests info and practice test tips.

How to do well on verbal reasoning tests

These come in many different types of format. The traditional comprehension format is to have a short text passage followed by a series of questions about facts, opinions, conclusions from the passage content. A bit like those English tests in primary school where you answered questions on a novel extract. Regardless of the type of test, it’s vital to remember:

  • To carefully read each question. Often questions hinge on 1-2 keywords so you must take more care to interpret these accurately.
  • If questioned whether something “always” applies whilst the passage states that it is “sometimes” the case, then this is a false interpretation.
  • One useful strategy is to scan the passage initially, then to read it in more detail.
  • It’s more efficient as you answer each question if you can recall roughly where to find the answer in the passage.

Aptitude Test Design Services

We are specialists in psychometric test design. In particular aptitude test design:

  • Verbal reasoning test design.
  • Numerical reasoning test design.
  • Abstract reasoning test design.

Aptitude Test Tips

There are many free aptitude test tips and aptitude test practice papers throughout our site. For example, here’s our free practice literacy test.

The general advice given is typically to give your “first response”. It was certainly important to visualize how you would behave at work, say on a typical good day.

Kkey psychometric pillars

Being Non-discriminatory


Since the first IQ tests were developed the whole point is to compare with a group of previous test-takers.


There are two key types of psychometric reliability:

  • Test-Retest Reliability
  • Internal reliability.

In summary, aptitude test reliability means if I take the same test next week, my results will be similar.

Aptitude test’s psychometric terms

  • Test-Retest Reliability

This concerns score consistency over time. If the test is measuring some stable characteristic of the individual such as intelligence, then the test should produce similar results if a group of candidates are examined using the same test at two points in time. The time gap between the measurement is important, as some psychological characteristics change considerably over time. Yet, a short gap of two weeks should not cause major changes.

Still, an external event in the period between the two assessment might cause a change, but here it is expected that the change will affect similarly all the candidates. This type of reliability is also known as test re-test reliability. It is assessed by correlating the tests scores measured first time with the test scores measured the second time. Ability tests are expected to have a reliability of at least r = .75, yet personality tests might have somewhat lower reliability.

The internal consistency refers to the question of whether all the test items measure the same concept. It can be assessed in two ways. The first method is known as the split-half reliability which require correlating the score based on half of the test items with the score based on the other half (e.g., scores on odd and even items). Alternative method is item-total reliability which requires correlating each item score with the total score of the rest of the items. There is a statistical measure called Cronbach alpha that summarises all the correlations into one figure. A test should have an alpha of at least a = .80.

Validity – means the test measures what it says it measures. MindX knows which personality traits are measured because we have compared our results to well-established personality tests. HireVue validates its video assessments using high performer data and job analysis results.


Every psychometric test has at least one norm group.

The standalone score has little meaning, so a comparison with previous candidate performance is used. For example, percentile rank.

Pre-test (or Pilot) Item

A trial item as part of a larger-than-necessary set of pre-test items. The  final, refined test is created by refining those items that work best. This is based on a statistical analysis of the trial item set’s results.

Aptitude Test Reliability

Firstly, is the test a reliable measure?

Most commonly the internal consistency index coefficient alpha or its dichotomous formulation, KR-20. Under most conditions, these range from 0.0 to 1.0, with 1.0 being perfectly reliable measurement. A reliable test may still not be a valid test.

Aptitude Test Validity 

Secondly, is the test valid? A measure of what it ‘says on the tin’?

In our opinion, both the initial content validation and later criterion validation analysis are vital for any bespoke psychometric test.

We recommend collecting additional recruitment data over time so that additional validation studies can be conducted. Such as assessment centre data.

There are many other types of psychometric test validation evidence, and one-off studies investigating a psychometric test’s criterion validity are common.

British Airways Aptitude Test Design Example

The Army psychometric design project we led for KenexaIBM encompassed several psychometric test designs:

  • Situational judgment test design;
  • Numerical reasoning test design;
  • Verbal reasoning test design
  • Personality questionnaire design.
  • Aptitude test design

For these two British Airways roles:

– Cabin crew assessment; and

– Customer service representative assessment.

British Army Aptitude Test Design Example

Psychometric lead role with Kenexa IBM; managing twenty associates.

  • We developed over twenty psychometric tests;
  • Situational judgement tests for Officers and for Soldiers;
  • Realistic job previews for Officers and for soldiers;
  • Ability tests (including problem-solving test) for Officers;
  • Ability tests (including a spatial reasoning test) for soldiers;
  • Officer personality questionnaire;
  • Soldier career guidance tools.

Aptitude Tests’ Vital Role

Many companies today are turning to testing and assessment tools to help them address these challenges and make more substantive and data-driven hiring decisions. Assessments are a great way to level the playing field and evaluate many candidates for the same skill sets in an objective fashion, using real-life technical scenarios that mirror the work they will be performing on the job. Automated assessment tools in particular can scale to make better use of your time and resources. Several key recruitment benefits are listed below.

Differentiation Benefits

Providing unbiased assessments is a great way to distinguish yourself to candidates in a crowded hiring environment. Candidates will see that you really care about hiring the most qualified tech workers in a manner that is unbiased and uncovers their true value.

Recruitment Cost and Recruitment Funnel Benefits

Automated testing helps you scale your recruiting efforts, evaluating many candidates simultaneously to save engineering hours, and ultimately the cost of those used hours, time and costs, which is particularly important for larger tech organizations.

Hiring, training and replacing a bad hire can cost almost 5x their annual salary. Making the right choice the first time around is vital to growing your business and keeping costs low.

Removing bias

Assessment tools give you a structured mechanism to remove bias from the evaluation and interview process. And it mitigates the disadvantage a candidate whose first language is not English may have in a traditional format.

Focusing on skills, not experience

Experience listed in a profile isn’t necessarily the most important indicator of true skills and expertise.

Assessments help you find candidates that may not have a lot of experience in a certain field. But nonetheless have the skills you’re looking for.

Consistent process benefits

Assessment tools help you standardize your ongoing evaluation process. You’ll get an objective look at how candidates perform in the testing phase and can then compare it to their success on the job. A post-mortem can reveal how a good (or bad) hire performed in the assessment and help you to duplicate (or avoid) that performance in the future.

Rob Williams Assessment Ltd has considerable experience in assessing test reliability test validity. This is one of the key final stages in any psychometric test design. Most recently we have been asked to validate situational judgement tests. In addition to testing the SJT reliability and to advise on suitable cut-off scores which minimise any adverse impact (due to gender, age, ethnic group and disability).

Many of the UK’s and US’s leading test publishers have used Rob Williams Assessment’s to assist with ensuring the psychometric properties of their trial psychometric tests. We consult on how to improve any test’s psychometric properties, particularly the test’s internal reliability and construct validity.

Our verbal reasoning advice on YouTube

Verbal reasoning test test design is one of our key psychometric test design specialities.

We also specialise in other forms of psychometric test design, such as personality test design and situational judgement test design design.

Clerical Checking Tests Samples

  • This has been the most dreadful storm this millenium.  The torrantial rain is causing chaos.  Thousands of devestated families have had to evacuate their homes.
  • Your cycling proficiancy test will take place next month.  It is advisible to recap on your highway code in the time leading up to your test.  Remember, it is imperative to put safety first.
  • This is  a fire percaution.  The key is available from reception.  Always return the key straigth away as others may need it.
  • Statistical tables show the values of the cummulative distribution functions.  They also contain probability dencity functions of certain common distributions for different values of their parametres.
  • Volunteer conservationalists worked through the night in a desparate attempt to rectify the damage from the storm.  They specialies in rebuilding fences and moving debrie from pathways.

Clerical Checking Test Example Questions

  • Already his dedication to the promotion of our policies has made a significant impact in our local area.  Therefore please vote for him as our new president in the comittee elections next month.
  • The endurance test required competitors to tolerate extreme physical challenge.  One potental problem being that the weather forcast had predicted rain and strong winds.
  • The immaculate appartment was bursting with antiques, and various other treasures he had acumulated from his world-wide travels.  He claimed the most precious items were those with sentimental value.

verbal reasoning test tips

Why test verbal reasoning?

Many medium-sized and large companies now use verbal Reasoning Tests as part of their standard recruitment processes. A standardised verbal Reasoning Test gives everyone the same opportunity to demonst.

Useful Websites

Firstly, try test publisher websites. Visit the test publisher Website once you know the type of psychometric tests you will be taking. Since most test publisher Websites offer practice questions.

For example, practise sample questions from Kenexa-IBM TalentQ and SHL sites. Reputable test publishers will send you some sample questions for you to practice in advance.

Secondly, familiarise yourself with the test format. Read the instruction and introduction sections carefully for each psychometric test you will take. This should ensure you are familiar with the test format.

Verbal Reasoning Test Practice Tips. man in suit at computer, thinking.
Secondly, Passing Numerical Reasoning Tests book by Rob Williams

Aptitude test tips

Verbal Reasoning Assessment Practice

Although you may not finish the test, the best strategy is to answer as many questions as you can in the time available.

  • Firstly, before deciding upon your final answer. You may be able to rule out one or two of the multiple choice questions as incorrect.
  • Secondly, read each question and also review each chart very carefully.
  • Each question is worth the same so don’t spend too long on a single question. So, remember that you may find subsequent questions easier to answer. If there is time at the end of the test you can return to any unfinished questions.
  • Work efficiently, but do not rush.
  • Remember that you are not expected to finish the verbal reasoning test.
  • In fact we recommend that your best strategy is to answer as many questions as you can in the time available.
  • Remember to only use the information that is provided.
  • Do not use any of your own background knowledge.

You can practise the most common verbal test types at the main test publisher websites. Practise sample questions from Kenexa-IBM, TalentQ and SHL as these sites cover most of the tests you are likely to find.

verbal reasoning test tips

Our Practice Aptitude Test Books

  • Passing Verbal Reasoning practice test book. This is regularly featured in Amazon’s top ten study guide.
  • Plus, our Numeracy Test Practice book, which reached Number One when the publisher Pearson offered it for free (throughout the UK’s first 2020 lockdown) .  

Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests Amazon reviews

5 star    62%
4 star    14%
3 star    19%
2 star    3%
1 star    2%

5 / 5 stars 

Brilliantly practical advice

The advice and practical examples will answer all your questions about an impending assessment. The book is easy to read and covers preparation, practical examples and an overview of the usual proceedings on test day. The author also highlights questions to be asked before test day and (I was very pleased to see) encourages feedback after assessment. The recaps at the end of every chapter are great for a quick overview before test day. Definitely a worthwhile investment and sure to put you at ease before an assessment of this kind.

2 people found this helpful

5 / 5 stars  – brilliant

It really helped with my Police assessment

Great Book

It helped me a lot

5 / 5 stars 

A MUST BUY for anyone attempting to pass any verbal reasoning test.

An informative yet easy to read book which helped me get through graduate level tests to the next stages of application. Would highly recommend.

5 people found this helpful

5 / 5 stars 0  Brilliant Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests

very useful

5.0 out of 5 stars 

Excellent sample verbal reasoning tests and explanations

Passed the VRT for HMRC Legal Trainee Scheme this year after reading this book.

LATEST BOOK REVIEWS for Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests

4 / 5 stars Very useful and good practice

The book has a good range of tests that reflect what comes up in real tests – so pretty good practice for the real thing

5 / 5 stars Highly recommended

Just what I needed to further my career.Now I’ve tried the tests I feel more confident.

Definitely one of the best books on verbal reasoning! Clearly outlines how to tackle each passage and makes you very aware of things that are designed to catch other people out such as Key Words. Pick this book up if you are taking a Verbal Reasoning Test.

Very good. Great for both…

Grads and experienced hires applying to large firms.

I was told that I needed to get good results in verbal and numerical reasoning for an upcoming job, but I felt very nervous about it. This book carefully explains why the tests are used and how to do your best. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t want to waste $40 on those silly Test Monkey type websites, so I was happy with this book for US$10.
It would be great if he could produce a book that contains only practice tests for the True, False, Cannot Say tests since those are the common ones.

An excellent guide to verbal reasoning tests.

This book is an extremely well written and helpful guide for anyone needing guidance in how to perform well in verbal reasoning tests. There are plenty of examples of the different levels of tests.Clear explanations of the correct responses are given. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is facing taking verbal reasoning tests in pursuit of a new job or promotion.

7 people found this helpful

5 / 5 stars 

A must have for verbal reasoning test preparation.

This book is great. The author is involved with writing these kind of tests so the examples and explanations are excellent. Its helped me to see where I’ve been going wrong, especially with the true/false/cannot say multiple choice type questions. The book has lots of examples which are relevant to the RAF aptitude test which I am studying for.

4 people found this helpful


4.0 out of 5 stars … have previous editions of this book and would definitely recommend to those who are preparing for these sorts of …

I have previous editions of this book and would definitely recommend to those who are preparing for these sorts of tests, great variety of example questions to get lots of practice with.

6 people found this helpful

4 / 5 stars – Found the layout of the book easy to follow

Found the layout of the book easy to follow. It has made the tests more accessible to me and will hopefully help me in my job search.

Must Have for Verbal Reasoning

Definitely one of the best books on verbal reasoning! Clearly outlines how to tackle each passage and makes you very aware of things that are designed to catch other people out such as Key Words. Pick this book up if you are taking a Verbal Reasoning Test.

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good. Great for both grads and experienced hires applying to large firms.

I was told that I needed to get good results in verbal and numerical reasoning for an upcoming job, but I felt very nervous about it. This book carefully explains why the tests are used and how to do your best. It was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t want to waste $40 on those silly Test Monkey type websites, so I was happy with this book for US$10.
It would be great if he could produce a book that contains only practice tests for the True, False, Cannot Say tests since those are the common ones.

aptitude test tips

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Job Preview Design

Many application processes now start online with a realistic job preview design that potential applicants take on the company website to “test” if the role still appears suitable after finding out about the realities of the role. Hence it’s a job preview but a realistic one.

Realistic role preview design

Typically, the test format is similar to an SJT in that job scenarios are presented which give the test-taker / job applicant an idea of what the job entails. Whilst the realistic job preview (RJP) is not a testing phase often there will be a more sophisticated SJT in a subsequent phase. In more sophisticated examples still graphics or video technology is used to further enhance the Realistic job preview / SJT experience for candidates.

This are an area that Rob Williams Assessment Ltd also specialise in. This builds on our situational judgement test design and we are often asked to design both a realistic job preview and a situational judgement test at the same time.

Our approach to the design of realistic job previews has the following phases.

Step-by-step role preview design 

(1) Planning a representative sample

(2) Conducting a highly detailed  set of telephone interviews and focus groups.

(3) Item writing

(4) SJT and RJP item reviewing

(5) compile a trial version to be reviewed by 10-12 subject matter experts (SME’s) in the role

(6) Trialling the situational judgement test

(7) Statistical analysis

(8) Presentation of trial results at standard-setting meeting with core SME’s

(9) Validation and norming the situational judgement test

– – – Job Preview – – –

Our Psychometric Test Designs

abstract reasoning test strategies. Abstract shapes.

Abstract reasoning test practice

Welcome to our abstract reasoning test practice and abstract reasoning test tips.

Many big organisations, such as banks and managament consultancies, use Abstract Reasoning Tests to recruit top graduates and for their managerial selection.

Abstract reasoning test tips

Graduate abstract reasoning test scores provide an indication of learning potential. Abstract reasoning tests indicate an ability to reason logically and to work with new ‘ideas’. In summary, non-verbal reasoning tests assess critical thinking.

Most of these practice test sites also offer their own abstract reasoning test tips and non verbal reasoning tips.

Free Abstract Reasoning sample questions

GL Assessment offer a popular school progress test called the CAT4 which assesses all of the following skills:

<  <   <   FREE sample CAT4 Abstract Reasoning test paper    >   >   >

What is an abstract reasoning test?

  • Abstract reasoning is often the test format which people are least familiar with.
  • There are several abstract reasoning test formats. You may be familiar with these from any IQ tests you’ve completed.
  • Abstract reasning tests contain many figures – grouped together in pattern(s) which need to be identified.

What are abstract reasoning skills?

  • Analysing Shapes and Letters
  • Breaking Codes
  • Completing Series of Shapes
  • Matrices
  • Find the Odd One
  • Similar shapes and figures

How to do well on abstract reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning tests ask you to look for the changing pattern(s) in the “pictures”. The easier questions typically at the start of the test, will involve one change in colour, position, size etc of the figures shown.

Questions become more difficult as you must spot two or three changes in any of the features shown. It can help, once you’ve worked out at least one of the feature changes, to check through the answer options to discount those that do not conform said feature changes.

Alongside SHL’s practise test pages these three sites cover most of the psychometric tests you are likely to find. You can ask in advance which test publisher’s test you will take.

Types of Abstract Reasoning Test

The individual boxes contain a series of ever-evolving figures. For example, there may be one black square and four white circles in the first box. The pattern could be an increase in the number of black figures by one for each step in the series. Thus, the pattern in the second box would be two black figures, three black figures in the third box and so on.

Alternatively, the pattern in the second box could shift such that the colour moves along one place in the series. Thus, the single black square would become a white square and the first white circle would become black.

“Complete the pattern” abstract reasoning test tips

Similar to the series abstract reasoning format, instead of having a line of 5 boxes the abstract reasoning format could be more elaborate.  You need to select which of the five answer options completes the 2 by 2 / 3 by 3 box.

It’s key not to panic. Whilst the question may look more complicated than the series row of boxes, you find the answer in the same way. The pattern will be both horizontal and vertical. This actually makes it easier to spot the similarities across and down the boxes. Once you have spotted the abstract similarities you are very close to knowing how the pattern differs going from one box to the next. Yes, exactly the same as in the simple series form of non-verbal reasoning question.

Abstract reasoning test practice

Abstract reasoning strategies

Questions become more difficult as you must spot two or three changes in any of the features shown. It can help, once you’ve worked out at least one of the feature changes, to check through the answer options to discount those that do not conform said feature changes.
Alongside SHL’s practise test pages these three sites cover most of the psychometric tests you are likely to find. You can ask in advance which test publisher’s test you will take.

The key is to always identify those patterns that differentiate Set A from Set B. You can find further UCAT abstract reasoning test practice tips here.

SHL abstract reasoning test

Whereas, SHL abstract reasoning tests ask you to look for the changing pattern(s) in the “pictures”. The easier questions typically at the start of the test, will involve one change in colour, position, size etc of the figures shown.

Questions become more difficult as you must spot two or three changes in any of the features shown. Once you know one of the feature changes, check each answer option to discount any in conflict with it.

Introduction to Abstract Reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning is the ability to perceive logical patterns and relationships and then to be able to extrapolate this information to new patterns/relationships. Being able to do this effectively is an important component of complex problem-solving.

The term general intelligence was conceptualized in the 1920’s by Charles Spearman. He believed that general intelligence was the most important estimate of someone’s overall intellectual ability. Spearman defined general intelligence as the innate ability to perceive relationships and to predict co-relationships. In other words, to understand how different concepts relate to each other; and to be able to assimilate new information into these concepts.

Abstract Reasoning Tests measure general intelligence by assessing the ability to identify the inherent patterns in a series of shapes/figures. The candidate needs to identify logical patterns and relationships in the sets of complex shapes and figures that are presented in each question block.

UCAT abstract reasoning test

Each block of Abstract Reasoning questions starts by presenting the candidate with two sets (labeled Set A and Set B) of six square blocks each. The six squares that make up Set A and Set B each contain a variety of different figures. These may include traditional geometric shapes (circles, squares, triangles etc), arrows, hearts as well as unusual and more intricate shapes. Each shape may be black or white and may enclose other figures. Please refer to the Example Items 1-3  section that appears later in this Test Taker’s Guide for an illustration of the format of the Abstract Reasoning Test.

Upon first appearance it may appear as though the different figures/shapes appear randomly. However, it is both useful and confidence-building for you to recognise that there are only a few different types of pattern. Such useful test-taking hints for the Abstract Reasoning sub-test are provided in the subsequent sections of this Test Taker’s Guide.

For each question block of Set A and Set B there are 7 questions that the candidate needs to compare to Sets A and B. There are three answer options available: whether the shapes in the question have most in common with Set A, with Set B, or share characteristics of Sets A and B. For each answer your response should be A, B or C respectively. Only one answer is correct for each question. You need to start by deciding which rule is followed by the shapes in Set A and which variation of this rule is followed by the shapes in Set B. Once you have decided this, then consider whether the shape in the first question belongs in Set A or Set B or if it has features of both – as so it does not clearly belong to either Set A or Set B.

No time limits are given for the practice questions presented in this Test Taker’s Guide. However, you do need to remember that the UK-CAT Abstract Reasoning Test requires you to answer 65 questions in 16 minutes.

Strategies for Completing Abstract Reasoning Tests

Each of these question blocks needs to be approached in the same logical way. To answer the first question in a block of Abstract Reasoning questions you will need to differentiate between Set A and Set B. The steps for doing this are given below:

First Step – Identifying Set A’s Features

Review the six squares in Set A. Ask yourself what features the figures in Set A have in common. There are a number of different features that you need to look out for. The main ones are as follows:

 Number of abstract reasoning figures

  • How many figures are contained within each square?

Size of abstract reasoning figures

  • Is there one large shape shown in each square?
  • Are there two medium-sized shapes?
  • Are there a large number of small shapes?

Shape of abstract reasoning figures

  • Does the same shape feature consistently within a square?
  • Does the same shape feature consistently within a square?

Colour of abstract reasoning figures

  • Is a figure wholly black or white?
  • Is a figure partly black or white?

Position of abstract reasoning figures

  • Is there one central figure?
  • Are there two figures positioned in a row?
  • Is there a figure in each of the four corners of the square?

Second Step – Identifying Set A’s repeating pattern

  • Ask yourself what features are a repeating pattern across all six of the squares in Set A.

Third Step – Identifying Set B’s features

  • Ask yourself what features the figures in Set B have in common.

Fourth Step – Identifying Set B’s repeating pattern

  • Ask yourself what features are a repeating pattern across all six of the squares in Set B.

Fifth Step – Identifying the theme that Set A and Set B have in common

  • There will be one characteristic that links Set A and Set B.
  • You need to identify the theme that Set A and Set B have in common. This will link the repeating pattern that you have found for Set A with the repeating pattern that you have found for Set B.

Sixth Step

  • Not apply what you have learnt to Question 1. Do the figures in Question 1 have most in common with Set A, with Set B, or share characteristics of Sets A and B?

This sixth step is what you now need to apply to answer question 2 and the remaining questions in that block. Then on reaching the second block you need to go back to the First Step again in order to differentiate between Set A and Set B.

Top Ten Abstract Reasoning Test Tips (1-5)

This section is designed to highlight ten tips to enable you to perform at your best on the Abstract Reasoning. These Tips are presented in no particular order since each may be more or less relevant on a particular Abstract Reasoning question.

  1. Always follow the recommended step-by-step approach given previously.  This will save you time pondering and avoid getting stuck on a particular question. 
  2. It is very time efficient to adopt a structured approach to each question in terms of your strategy for answering and in terms of how much time you allocate to completing each question. If you have an alternative structured approach to the one given above then use this as your strategy.
  3. One type of misleading question that you may encounter is where there is the same type of shape appearing in several of Set A or Set B squares. For example, the crosses that appear in several of the Set A and B squares in the question block 15-21. These are deliberately used to distract you and to not contribute to the overall pattern that you are looking for.
  4. If you cannot allocate a set of figures to Set A and B do not spend too long trying to find why. Remember that answer option C is the third option and covers both components of Set A and Set B – even if you haven’t bottomed out what these actually are.
  5. You may find that even if you are unable to identify the underlying pattern in Set A and/or Set B you can intuitively see or feel that a question belongs in either Set A or Set B. In this case do not be afraid of giving that best estimate as your answer.

(6-10) Abstract Reasoning Test Tips 

  1. You will find some items much easier than others. This is why it’s important to get to the end of the Abstract Reasoning subtest before the allocated time. That way you can return to the more difficult items and at least have attempted answers to all the questions.
  2. If you have spent considerable time attempting to differentiate between the figures in Set A and Set B then try to apply the same explanations as have been demonstrated to you in this book. Maybe one of these, or something similar will be what differentiates Set A from Set B.
  3. One pitfall to avoid is spending too long on the first half of the subtest. Ask yourself the question when you are halfway through your allocated time, Have I finished half of the questions?  If the answer is yes then you are working at the right pace. If you have completed less than half you may like to speed up your working. Do not do this at the expense of accuracy.
  4. You may find that you can automatically run through the recommended sequence of stages once you are familiar with the Abstract Reasoning sub-test format of the CAT. Obviously if the answer “jumps out at you straight away” then you may well have detected the underlying pattern without having to spend much time thinking about it. The time saved will benefit you when you come to Abstract Reasoning questions that you find more difficult to detect the underlying pattern.
  5.  If after having completed the Abstract Reasoning subtest practice items you still have concerns about your ability to pass this CAT subtest then you may like to memorise each of these Top Ten Tips over the next few days.

Best Three Strategies for you to Remember

The best current strategy for you to adopt now is a three-fold one:

  1. Work through a number of examples and get a feeling for how comfortable you are doing this sub-test;
  2. Check your answers against those provided at the end of this Test Taker’s Guide; and then;
  3. Review those questions that you did not complete correctly. It is vital that for each of the questions that you answered incorrectly, you read the rationale and learn how this reasoning has been applied to this particular type of question. Do ensure that you spend sufficient time going over the reasoning provided.

Other Psychometric Test Practice

Try our abstract reasoning test practice

What are Abstract Reasoning Tests?

The aim is to test your thinking about realizing the rules, patterns for problem solving and decision making.

The test will show your ability to proceed with data and information, detect patterns and relationships between them, then offer solutions to problems at a level of abstract thinking.

Typically, companies asking candidates to do this test to look for the following skills in the candidates:

  • Be able to understand the meaning behind the information and data. For example, the Statue of Liberty in the United States is not simply a statue, but a symbol of freedom.
  • Be able to grasp abstract theory about a certain phenomenon. You can introduce the concept and overview of different data.
  • Identify relationships, connections between discrete ideas. For example, you can find patterns of customer behavior through changes over time.

Abstract Reasoning Test samples

Here are some typical images from an Abstract Reasoning Test.

(Image source: Aptitude-test)

Which is the next image?

Your task is to observe and analyze to identify a pattern to be able to select the next image.Subscribe to The Morning Email.Wake up to the day’s most important news.

There’s a limited time period. This requires you to analyze information quickly and accurately in a short time.

In addition, the difficulty will increase gradually through each question. This means you need to identify many more patterns and their complexity will increase.

Abstract reasoning test tips

Other types of abstract reasoning test

Reasoning: In addition to questions about how to identify the pattern over the image, you will encounter questions related to the diagram. There’s a a diagram to identify the rules. Then you apply the rules listed to apply to a different diagram to solve the problem. You would need analytical skills, critical thinking and the ability to relate to the symbols to find out the answer.

Given this flow diagram:

Identify what x equals here:

Answer: E

Explanation: When you look on the diagram, the black square turns into the white circle after going through the process in between. It means that there are two changing factors. They are shape and color. Therefore, in the answer, the black circle turns into the white square.

(Image source: LSE)

Diagramming Abstract Reasoning Test Practice

Given these commands:

And this sequence of diagrams and commands:

Which sequence is correct?

Answer: D

(Image source: LSE)

In this example, to be able to pick out the correct answer, you should be able to interpret the information and grasp the meaning of these commands. Then, based on that sense, you apply in order to find the most accurate diagram.

Extra Abstract Reasoning Test Tips

To be able to quickly identify the pattern, you need to compare each factor between images and information. Factors here include the size, location, color, angles, movement and you compare it with other factors to identify certain rules between them.

To avoid boredom, you should invite your friends to practise with you. You can participate in a competition to train your reflexes. This is actually an interesting test for you. You will become more passionate as you become better.

You can practise analyzing information by looking at the financial statements, statistical tables of human behavior on social networks. Then try to find the meaning through the raw data.

Moreover, to be able to finish a test in time, you need to focus on core aspects of a question. Distinguish between the important elements and those elements not relevant. If you caught a very hard sentence, you could skip to the next sentence and do it. For such difficult questions, you can observe the answers to find the rule.

Abstract reasoning test tips

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