Abstract Reasoning Test

Check out our comprehensive guide on abstract reasoning tests and find out what they are, what they involve and how to successfully pass one.

What Are Abstract Reasoning Tests?

An abstract reasoning test is a type of psychometric assessment and is designed to measure your lateral thinking skills, or your fluid intelligence. This refers to your ability to quickly identify patterns and relationships, and integrate this information to solve complex and abstract problems.

This is generally achieved by identifying a pattern or relationship in a series or sequence of pictures, shapes or diagrams and choosing the missing item to complete the series.

Abstract reasoning tests are typically used by companies and employers as a means to determine the suitability of potential employees to specific roles. They can also be used on existing employees to shed light on individuals’ mental capabilities and behavioural styles, which are otherwise difficult to measure in their job performance.

They can either be taken separately or as part of a series of psychometric and aptitude tests. For example, Career Hunter has developed its own Abstract Reasoning Test which is intended to be taken alongside its five other tests: Career Interests , Work Personality, Career Motivators, Numerical Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning.

The results from each test are then combined to provide accurate career matches based on your professional strengths, interests and priorities, along with detailed test results, relevant course recommendations and a personalised 55+ page career report.

Jobs That Require Abstract Reasoning Skills

Although abstract reasoning tests can be used for the evaluation of almost any job, they can form an integral part of the recruitment process for certain professions where mental ability is an important aspect of overall performance.

They are particularly common for creative, IT, science and engineering roles, including:


Graphic Designers

Landscape Architects

Mechanical Engineers

Medical Scientists




Software Developers


Sample Question

The Career Hunter Abstract Reasoning Test is comprised of 20 questions which you need to answer by correctly identifying the missing item in the accompanying sequence of shapes.

Which of the following images completes the sequence?

The third picture is a small circle, followed by a slightly larger circle in the fourth picture. Likewise, the fifth picture is a small triangle, followed by a slightly larger circle in the sixth picture. Therefore, if the first picture in the sequence is a small square, then the next picture should be a slightly larger square.

This is the standard question format we use in the Career Hunter Abstract Reasoning Test.

Tips for Preparing for an Abstract Reasoning Test

Contrary to popular belief, you can prepare for an abstract reasoning test and, in effect, improve your score and overall performance. Here’s how:

Practice Beforehand

There are plenty of free tests available on the internet that you can take to help you prepare for an abstract reasoning test, but bear in mind that these are usually low quality and very basic. It’s highly recommended that you take a more accurate test (which could mean spending a little bit of money). That being said, the Career Hunter Abstract Reasoning Test is free to take and includes a number of practice questions, though you’ll need to purchase full access to the entire testing system to view your detailed results.

Solve Puzzles

You’ll typically find logic puzzles in newspapers and magazines but your best bet would be to buy a couple of puzzle books from your local newsagent or – if you’re more on the tech-savvy side – download a dedicated app or two on your mobile or tablet device.

Stay Calm

Like any other test or exam, abstract reasoning tests can be extremely daunting (especially when they’re being taken at an assessment centre or as part of a job interview) but the trick is not to let nerves get the better of you. Of course, this is easier said than done, but nothing will damage your performance more than losing focus during one of these tests – so, take a deep breath and relax!

Manage Your Time

It’s only natural that you may come across a difficult question or two – after all, abstract reasoning tests are designed to be challenging. However, as most of these tests are timed (depending on the test, this can be anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes), make sure you don’t waste valuable time trying to solve difficult questions and simply move on to the next question if you’re stuck. You can always come back to the questions you skipped if you’ve got any time left!

Establish a Pattern

Changes in sequences are central to identifying the correct answers in abstract reasoning tests. Look out for the number of shapes, their position, rotation and colour, as well as things like the number of sides of a shape.

Look Out for Distractors

Some sequences feature shapes and colours which are purely distractors. Beware of these!

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