Abstract Reasoning Tests

Abstract reasoning tests are also known as diagrammatic or inductive reasoning tests.

  • What are Abstract Reasoning Tests?

    Abstract reasoning tests are often called non-verbal reasoning tests because the questions consist of shapes and images, rather than text-based problems. This is to assess your ability to identify patterns and relationships between objects and apply the rules of the logic to find the correct answer.

    Many people struggle with abstract reasoning as it is not something that they have come across before and the tests are designed to be challenging. Since the job market for financial roles is so competitive, companies want to ensure that they identify the strongest candidates and many use ability tests to do that. However, this guide to abstract reasoning can help you understand what to expect and feel more confident about your abilities.

  • What Types of Questions Can I Expect on an Abstract Reasoning Test?

    As mentioned, abstract reasoning tests present primarily image-based problems, which you need to carefully examine to identify similarities and differences to understand the pattern.

    For example, you could be presented with a sequence of rotated images and have to identify the answer which completes the pattern, or conversely, does not fit. This is also known as spatial reasoning, which is used to assess how well you visualise in your mind's eye and manipulate shapes mentally.

    Abstract reasoning tests are most often multiple-choice, meaning that you will get a set of possible answers from which to choose the correct one. Some people think that this means that the tests are easier, but abstract reasoning can be fairly complex and the answers can look very similar.

    Another aspect that makes abstract reasoning challenging is the time pressure. Usually, an abstract reasoning test given for recruitment will give you a minute or less per question, which means you need to pay attention to your timings and work quickly.

  • How are Abstract Reasoning Tests Different to Logical Reasoning and Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests?

    There is very little difference between abstract and diagrammatic reasoning tests as they both ask you to process sequences of shapes and identify patterns and relationships between the images. However, there are two main types of logical reasoning test, which informs what kind of questions you will be asked.

    • Inductive reasoning is where you are asked to first determine the rules of the patterns, then use this to choose the correct answer.

    • Deductive reasoning is known as top-down logic, where you are given the parameters and reach the conclusion from that. With deductive reasoning there is no uncertainty as all statements are taken as true.

    You may not be told explicitly what kind of logical reasoning is being used, and often there is a mix of question types. Therefore, your best approach is to become familiar with each type, so you know what is being asked of you when it comes to taking your test.

  • Why are Abstract Reasoning Tests Used?

    Employers like to use abstract reasoning tests because they test skills and competencies that are hard to judge through traditional recruitment methods. Abstract reasoning assesses something called your “fluid intelligence”, which refers to how well you solve problems, process new information, and think creatively. These are highly valued skills in the financial industry, where your role will often ask you to react to spontaneous changes with a level head.

    Financial jobs are extremely competitive, so abstract reasoning tests are a good way to gain objective data on your cognitive abilities. If you perform well on this test, it shows you work well under pressure, can process new and complex information, and think in abstract terms.

  • Top Five Tips to Prepare and Pass Your Abstract Reasoning Test

    1. Do brain training exercises. While practice papers are a great way to improve your score, doing other kinds of abstract reasoning like puzzles, sudoku, and even video games can work the same skills.

    2. Read the question carefully. Abstract reasoning questions are deliberately tricky, so go over each question thoroughly to make sure you know what is being asked of you.

    3. Be mindful of time. Most abstract reasoning tests are tight on timings and that can be stressful. Keep an eye on the clock and manage your time efficiently, for example, if a question is too difficult, move on and come back at the end.

    4. Forget outside knowledge. The only information you need for these tests is what is given to you in the questions. Do not overthink by using knowledge you have outside of the statements.

    5. Stay calm. These tests can be tricky and frustrating, however, the worst thing you can do is lose your cool. Even if you're struggling, remain calm and keep working through the questions - you'll score a lot higher than if you give up.

  • Abstract Reasoning Practice Questions

    Q1) Which of the boxes comes next in the sequence?

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    Q2) Which of the boxes comes next in the sequence?

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    Solutions

    Q1) Answer = A

    Please note: circles are in no particular pattern within the lower segment. It is merely the number of circles that are important for this sequence. Arrow changes direction from pointing up, to down, to right, then to left with each turn. Circles increase by one with each turn.

    Q2) Answer = D

    ’U’ shape rotates by 45 degrees with each turn. Circle remains in same position of the ’U’ shape with each turn. Triangle appears (middle section of ‘U’ shape) on every alternate turn (i.e. 1st frame, 3rd frame, 5th frame).

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Abstract Reasoning Tests FAQs

Can you fail an abstract reasoning test?

Yes, you can fail an abstract reasoning test. Ability tests are scored positively, meaning you gain a mark for every correct answer you give, which means that you need to score a certain amount to "pass" the test.

What is a good score on an abstract reasoning test?

Every company has a different threshold for what they consider a good score, so there is no definitive mark to aim for. However, many employers score ability tests as a percentile, meaning you have to be in the top 20% of all scores to get through, rather than getting a particular score.

Can abstract reasoning be trained?

While lots of employers like abstract reasoning because it is not based on any prior knowledge and, therefore, can be a fairer test, you can still train to get better. Doing puzzles, brain training, and practicing abstract reasoning tests can help you to become quicker and more confident with this kind of thinking.

What jobs use abstract reasoning tests?

Many jobs require the skills that abstract reasoning tests assess. If you score highly on this kind of lateral thinking then you may be well suited to jobs like financial analyst, investment management, strategic planner, and technology development.

Will I complete my test online?

Nowadays, you are most likely to take any pre-employment tests online, so you will need access to a quiet room with a stable internet connection to complete these. Each company has a different process and will inform you of that when you apply. If you need adjustments then contact your recruiter to get that arranged for you.

Which employers use abstract reasoning tests?

Employers looking for problem solvers, quick thinkers and those who take the initiative are likely to use abstract reasoning tests as part of their hiring process. In the highly competitive world of finance, this test is used a lot.