Abstract Reasoning Tests

Abstract reasoning tests assess how a candidate approaches analysing unfamiliar information by testing their ability to spot patterns and trends.

  • What are abstract reasoning aptitude tests?

    Abstract reasoning aptitude tests are pre-employment assessments that are used to evaluate candidates based on their ability to spot patterns and trends in unfamiliar information.

    Like other aptitude tests, there are no specific qualifications or experience needed to complete the abstract reasoning test, and as it is a non-verbal test, it can be used to assess candidates from different educational and cultural backgrounds.

    An abstract reasoning test is a multiple-choice, timed assessment that presents candidates with questions based on sequences of images or shapes. One of the shapes in the sequence is missing, and the candidate needs to be able to find the right item from the multiple-choice options presented. To answer this question correctly, the candidate must spot the pattern or rule that governs the sequence and apply it to the possible answers to discount the distractors and choose the correct answers.

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  • What do abstract reasoning tests measure?

    Abstract reasoning tests measure lateral thinking and fluid intelligence by presenting non-verbal questions. There are no language requirements to be successful in the abstract reasoning test, but the candidate needs to be able to spot patterns and make logical conclusions while working under pressure to be successful.

    Fluid intelligence, adaptability, and the ability to use logical reasoning are all indicators of success, particularly in high-level management roles, or roles that are based on complex problem-solving.

    The abstract reasoning test measures candidates on their ability to make logical conclusions based on limited and unfamiliar information by spotting patterns and trends. The additional pressure of a time limit and questions that get progressively harder as the candidate answers them allows recruiters and employees to get an understanding of how well a candidate can perform in a work environment, and the strategies they might use to solve problems.

    Abstract reasoning tests are very similar to diagrammatic, inductive, and other logical reasoning tests, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

Sample Abstract Reasoning Tests question

In a code language, if "BAT" is coded as "ACZBSU," then what would the word "FIN" be coded as?





Which employers use abstract reasoning tests and why?

Recruiters for high-level roles across almost all industries use abstract reasoning assessments as part of the recruitment process, and they are also used in roles with complex problem solving and a need for excellent critical thinking skills.

Employers choose to use the abstract reasoning assessment when they are looking for managers and executives, but also for analytical or engineering roles.

The abstract reasoning assessment is usually delivered to candidates after the initial application and paper sift. It is a simple and easy assessment to administer at scale, and for the candidate, the assessment is simple to complete from a link that is emailed to them.

The results of the abstract reasoning test can be used as reliable and unbiased data for making the right decision on which applicants should be taken further into the application process. They can also be used as assessments for internal promotions and mobility as well as tools for development and discovering training needs.

abstract reasoning test

What are the benefits of using an abstract reasoning test in your hiring process?

As a recruiter, publishing a new job posting could mean receiving potentially hundreds of seemingly similarly qualified applicant CVs. A simple paper sift might narrow down potential candidates based on qualifications and experience, but it is not always easy to know which applicants have the right abilities, attitudes, and competencies to be successful in the role.

Using the abstract reasoning test at an early stage in the recruitment process serves a few purposes to make it easier for the recruitment team.

Firstly, it can be delivered to a large number of applicants at the same time, so it is a simple way to reduce the size of a candidate pool.

Another important reason to use an abstract reasoning test as part of the application process is the creation of unbiased, objective, and actionable data that demonstrates the fluid intelligence and complex problem-solving ability of the candidates. With the results of the test in hand, recruiters can simply choose the top performers in this assessment to take further into the process.

Choosing the most qualified candidates, in terms of education, experience, and aptitude, reduces the cost of time and money for hiring, and also reduces the risk of a 'bad hire'.


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Greg Chambers, HR Business Partner, Littlefish Ltd
Greg Chambers, HR Business Partner, Littlefish Ltd
Abstract Reasoning Tests expert

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Developed by our team of I/O psychologists and psychometricians, our assessments provide reliable, valid and impartial results. They strictly follow industry best practices and stay on the leading edge of innovations to have job seekers' unique profiles, abilities and knowledge accurately evaluated while minimising bias. They draw on years of research and cutting-edge predictive analytics to create assessments that provide valuable insights into performance, retention, culture fit and more.

Abstract Reasoning Tests FAQs

How hard is the abstract reasoning test?

The content of the abstract reasoning test questions is not hard, but the unfamiliarity with the images and shapes can be considered quite difficult for some candidates.

Why is abstract reasoning important?

Employees who regularly have to make decisions based on new information, have to spot patterns or trends in data, or who have to think of new ways to solve problems need to have a good level of adaptability and fluid intelligence, and this is evident in their performance in the abstract reasoning test.

Are these tests available in my plan?

We have a range of plans available. The difference between the plans is the number of test attempts permitted, not the type of tests. All our plans include our full test suite comprising all tests and all levels.

Can I see what the test is like?

Yes, of course. You can try the test for free by signing up for a free trial.

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Laurence Fishman, Partner, NLPCA

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