Abstract reasoning tests


What are abstract reasoning tests?

Also referred to as diagrammatic reasoning tests by many employers, they present you with a series of symbols, diagrams or shapes and you are asked to decide what comes next in the sequence. This will test your intellectual reasoning ability, your logic and ability to spot trends, and is used by employers who want candidates who can problem solve.

There are 4 distinct types of question:

  1. Series – from a series of shapes, patterns and symbols you must identify the next character.
  2. Reasoning – using a flow diagram you will be expected to deduce rules and apply these rules to new, related situations. Used for positions where using logic and analysis to solve problems is essential.
  3. Thinking – candidates are given a shape, along with various symbols or characters representing different instructions. The symbols or characters are then applied to the shape numerous times, changing its orientation, colour, size etc. Candidates either choose the correct final shape from multiple options or work out which symbols or characters have been applied to create the final shape. Recruiters use this for technical positions where candidates must juggle a multitude of variables acting upon a given situation or task.
  4. Diagramming – particularly used in the IT industry, diagramming involves following instructions from diagrams to identify a resulting sequence.

If you are struggling to understand the concept and would prefer a visual explanation – this YouTube ‘beginners guide’ video tutorial from CareerVidz could be useful.

How can I prepare for abstract reasoning tests?

  • As these types of questions can be unfamiliar to many of us, practice tests will really help. Login to GraduatesFirst to access diagrammatic reasoning tests via the LSE Careers subscription. Unlike many of the free online resources, this one will give you a personalised report and worked solutions to questions – use this to work out where you need to improve.
  • Check whether the recruiting employer provides any examples on their website. These tests can vary significantly based on the needs of each employer so if you can find out the name of the test provider, you can look for practice tests from them.
  • Try answering abstract problems in newspapers and magazines or doing logic puzzles. Anything that enhances your ability to spot patterns will be helpful.
  • If it is permitted, and you would find it useful, make notes as you are working through the complicated sets of symbols. Don’t spend too long doing this though as you don’t want to run out of time to complete the test!  
  • A quick Google search will provide a list of free online practice tests. Try the following: AssessmentDay or JobTestPrep.

How can I perform better on the day?

  • If it is permitted, and you would find it useful, make notes as you are working through the complicated sets of symbols. Don’t spend too long doing this though as you don’t want to run out of time to complete the test!  

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