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This is an all-inclusive text on Abstract Reasoning Tests. From an in-depth understanding to a list of detailed proven practice tips, we cover everything for you here.

We at GF provide practice assessments for professionals like you to help prepare you for your Abstract Reasoning test. Get ahead in your abstract test practice with our Essential Practice Package

Not sure if you should practice to prepare for your Abstract Reasoning tests? A study found that candidates who do not practise assessments, tend to fail at the first hurdle of psychometric assessments (54%-84%). This study looked at the Top 100 global employers.

Bradley et al. (2019)

Let’s dive in to find out all you need to know about Abstract Reasoning tests:


  1. What is an Abstract Reasoning Test
  2. Why do Employers use Abstract Reasoning Assessments?
  3. Major Providers of Abstract Reasoning Tests
  4. Types of Abstract Reasoning Test Questions
  5. Top 5 Abstract Reasoning Test Tips
  6. Free Abstract Reasoning Question Example
  7. How to ace Abstract Reasoning Tests
  8. Abstract Reasoning Tests FAQs

What is an Abstract Reasoning Test?

Abstract reasoning tests or ARTs test the candidate’s ability to observe the relationship between shapes, images and patterns. Employers use ARTs to understand the strategic thinking ability of the candidate. It also predicts a candidate’s ability to respond to risk and pressure, and come up with measures to mitigate such situations.

Good to know: This type of test has a high similarity with diagrammatic, logical, inductive and spatial tests, and are often named interchangeably with these assessments. Abstract Reasoning tests are often grouped together with other aptitude tests during the initial screening stage of the employer’s recruitment process.

Discover more about Abstract Reasoning tests with this short video below:

What is an Abstract Reasoning Test? #shorts

Why do Employers use Abstract Reasoning Assessments?

Abstract reasoning tests are a reliable way to judge a candidate’s strategic thinking. Through this test, the participants display their ability to observe a pattern, connect the missing parts, logically arrive at a conclusion and respond to questions without tapping into prior knowledge.

Abstract reasoning is essential if your job profile entails: 

  • decision making
  • risk analysis
  • product development
  • critical thinking 
  • strategy formulation

Good to know: Abstract reasoning assessments reflect on the aptitude part of the candidate. Through this assessment type, the selection committee is able to put a score to a candidate’s abstract reasoning abilities.

Abstract thinking test
Abstract Thinking Test
Source: FreePik

Employers using Abstract Assessments

Abstract reasoning tests are used in a wide range of major industries, such as consulting, banking, finance, technology, engineering and more, usually at the early stages of the company recruitment process. 

Below are some of the most notable employers that use Abstract Reasoning tests in many of their selection processes:

P&GGoldman Sachs

Major Providers of Abstract Reasoning Tests

Developing an understanding about the major providers of abstract assessments also known as psychometric test publishers is important so that as a candidate you practise with the best and get the best results:

What sort of test questions can we expect from these abstract assessments? Read on to find out!

Types of Abstract Reasoning Test Questions

Within abstract reasoning assessments, you may expect different types of questions which use abstract reasoning patterns. The core elements in all these questions are the same, however the questions used may differ slightly from each other. 

Here are some of the main abstract reasoning questions used and how you can ace them:

Next in the Sequence

In this type of question there are several images, which all follow a rule or pattern. Candidates will be required to determine which of the given 4 or 5 options is the diagram that will be the next step in this sequence.

Good to know: To determine the correct diagram, you must first uncover the rule that each of the images in the sequence follows. Look for similarities between each, and use that to eliminate the options which do not share these. 

Matrices Questions

What sets this question apart from the next in the sequence questions is that the diagrams provided will follow a rule which will combine and the candidate may be required to figure out which option is the correct combined diagram.

Find the Odd One Out

Although the candidate will be required to identify the pattern that the diagrams follow, instead here the candidate will be asked to pick the odd image out. Ensure to carefully observe the sides, shading and orientation of each of the shapes to help discover the pattern followed by the majority of the diagrams.

Check out the below example of this question from AON/Cut-e!

Cut-e abstract reasoning example
Cut-e Abstract Reasoning Example
Source: YouTube
Analogical Comparison 

Two pairs of similar images will be provided in each question, where the first pair is complete for observation of the rule. The candidate is supposed to find this rule from the first pair and use this to determine the 2nd one from the provided options.

Top 5 Abstract Reasoning Test Tips

  1. Get Familiar with the Test
    • The best way to ward off the anxiety around the assessment is to get familiar with it. This is possible through mock tests. Through regular practise you will be able to familiarise yourself with tricky questions, general instructions, strength areas and timing. 
  1. Honing the Skill
    • Engaging in activities that boost your brain activity (such as solving puzzles and reading complex articles) can help develop your abstract reasoning skill over time and improve your ability to identify patterns and rules faster.
  1. Record the Progress
    • Make use of performance reports and progress tracking through your online tests to identify key areas where you have improved. Use these findings to focus your practice areas.
  1. Time Management
    • Even in the UCAT assessment, timing is crucial. While it is not always possible to spend an equal amount of time on each question, taking out an average will help utilise the time well.

Abstract Reasoning Assessment Mini-Glossary

University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT)An assessment used by many universities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand for admission of students into medical or dental programmes

Good to know: Time allotted for tests will differ from one employer or publisher to another. Make sure to read the assessment instructions carefully to find out the maximum time allotted by employers you are seeking. 

  1. Make Notes
    • Making quick notes with a pen and paper during the test or practice test can help track your progress on each question and work out which options follow the abstract rule faster. 

For even more tips to ace your Abstract Reasoning test, check out our short video below:  

How to Pass an Abstract Reasoning Test #shorts

Free Abstract Reasoning Question Example

Test your abstract reasoning skills with our example Abstract Reasoning Example question below! For a true challenge, try to answer in under 45 seconds!

Abstract Reasoning Test Free Practice Example

Read on for the step-by-step worked solution and the answer to this example question!

Abstract reasoning test free practice
  • Step 1: Study the 3 diagrams and search for patterns that each of these follow.
  • Step 2: You may notice that each of the 3 diagrams include 2 squares. Therefore, the answer can only be C or D.
  • Step 3: Each of the 3 diagrams contain an arrow, however both options C and D also follow this rule, so you must find another rule to this pattern.
  • Step 4: You may then notice that the amount of dark blue shapes in each diagram are always greater than the light blue. Following this logic, the answer must be C.
  • Answer: C

Buy our practice Essentials package to further your preparation with even more practice abstract reasoning test questions with worked solutions, feedback and performance tracking today!

How to ace Abstract Reasoning Tests

Preparation is key, but how can we do our best during the assessment? Check out the 7 following the strategies below which can help better your performance in a real abstract assessment:

  1. Read Through Carefully
    • Read through the instructions and carefully observe each of the diagrams individually. Often abstract tests may also include additional changes that do not follow a typical pattern. To save time, check the instructions for tips on what rules to look out for, such as colour and shape types.
  1. Speed and Accuracy
    • Some candidates focus more on accuracy while others try to cover more by speeding up. Going extreme on either is a mistake, instead think of maintaining a balance. If you are not sure about an answer, do not waste time and proceed with other questions. 

Good to know: If there is no negative marking for the assessment, it is worth making an educated guess if you’re unsure. Ensure to check whether there are negative marks mentioned in the instructions.

  1. Deep Breaths
    • When the mind is stressed, take deep breaths to gain composure. Deep breaths are great to bring the thoughts together and recreate the focus. An anxious mind may miss out the connecting dots in the pattern. Remember, ARTs need sharp focus coupled with calmness.
  1. Your Peak
    • What time of the day are you most active, mentally? Since ARTs need deep focus, choose a time best suitable to take your online abstract reasoning test based on your energy levels. 
  1. Environment
    • Choose a location where you will not be disturbed with a strong internet connection. Have water near you to stay hydrated during the online test. 
  1. Equipment
    • Some abstract tests are interactive. Again, this varies with employers. If it is an interactive assessment, make sure you have the correct equipment handy and check these work ahead of the test. 
  1. Practice
    • With all tests, the key to preparing for abstract reasoning tests is to practice to familiarise yourself. Discover more practice tips to best hone your abstract test preparation with our short video below! 
How to prepare for Abstract Reasoning Tests #shorts

Get the practice Essentials to prepare for your abstract reasoning assessments and practice over 1,200 unique assessment questions with worked solutions, progress tracking and reports based on your performance. 

Check out our answers to even more abstract reasoning frequently asked questions. 

Abstract Reasoning Tests FAQs

What is a UCAT Abstract Reasoning test?

Abstract reasoning questions are included in one of the sections of the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT). While the fundamentals of each test remain the same, the questions for ARTs for employers are more difficult than a UCAT abstract reasoning test. 

How to pass an abstract reasoning test?

Here are 5 ways you can ace your abstract reasoning test:

  1. Practise mock tests online
  2. Spot your weak and strength areas
  3. Time yourself well
  4. Solve puzzles
  5. Engage in conceptual thinking

Discover more about Abstract Reasoning tests with our many useful YouTube videos on GF!

Can you fail abstract reasoning tests?

Whilst Abstract reasoning tests can be difficult, most tests do not have a failing grade or negative marks. Therefore candidates are unlikely to “fail” this test in the typical sense, however we suggest aiming to score at the 30th percentile and above. Employers use cut-offs as low as this to help sift through scores and select those to move to the next stage. 

What skills do Abstract Reasoning Tests measure?

Most global corporations and employers use abstract tests in their selection processes to measure the following key skills:

  • abstract reasoning
  • decision making
  • risk analysis
  • critical thinking
  • strategy formulation
  • mitigation techniques  

What is a good score on an abstract reasoning test?

Abstract reasoning test scores often vary across employers. The passing score may also depend on your performance in other tests like numerical and verbal reasoning, at the same stage of assessments. A good score is technically anything beyond the 30th percentile, as employers have used a cut-off as low as this to sift through test scores and select candidates for the next stage. Scoring beyond the 70th percentile would certainly put you in the top bracket, though we recommend aiming as high as you can to give yourself the best chances.