The aptitudes and abilities measured by verbal and numeric
reasoning tests can easily be related to real world tasks and
jobs, as many jobs require some degree of skill with words and
numbers. Abstract reasoning tests on the other hand, seem to
consist of questions which have little or no application in the
real world. Yet these types of question appear in most graduate
and management aptitude tests. Why is this?
Abstract reasoning tests date back to the research done by the
psychologist Charles Spearman in the 1920’s. Spearman used a
statistical technique called factor analysis to examine
relationships between people’s scores on different tests or
sub-tests of intelligence. He concluded that people who do well on
some intelligence tests also do well on others (e.g. vocabulary,
mathematics, spatial abilities). Conversely, if people do poorly
on an intelligence test, they also tended to do poorly on other
intellectual tests. This led him to believe that there are one or
more factors that are common to all intellectual tasks.
As a result of this research Spearman developed a two-factor
theory of intelligence.
As the diagram shows, Spearman said that intelligence is mainly
made up of ‘g’, with bright people having a lot, and dull people
having less. People may also vary according to their specific
abilities, ‘s’, i.e. one person might be better at maths, while
another would be very good verbally. However, Spearman placed much
more importance on ‘g’ and believed that the most important
information about someone’s intellectual ability is an estimate or
measurement of ‘g’. Even though Spearman’s research was done many
years ago, his theory of ‘g’ is still widely accepted by
psychologists and a great deal of research has supported it.
Spearman defined ‘g’ as:
“the innate ability to perceive relationships
and educe co-relationships”
If we replace the word ‘educe’ with ‘work out’ then you can see
why abstract reasoning questions are seen to be a good measure of
general intelligence, as they test your ability to perceive
relationships and then to work out any co-relationships without
you requiring any knowledge of language or mathematics.
1. Which symbol in the Answer Figure completes the sequence in
the Problem Figure ?
2. Which of the Answer Figures belongs in neither group?
3. Which of the Answer Figures belongs in neither group?
4. Which of the Answer
Figures fits the missing space in the Question Figure?
1. C - The question figure is rotated clockwise through 90 degrees
2. D & E - Group 1 shapes are all straight lines, group 2 shapes
are all curved.
3. A, B & D - Same color shapes are diagonally opposite (Group1)
or above/below (Group 2).
4. D - Each row and column contains one line of each type.
These tests are of particular value when the job involves
dealing with abstract ideas or concepts as many technical jobs do.
However, as they also provide the best measure of your general
intellectual ability they are very widely used and you will
usually find some questions of this type whichever particular
tests you are given.
These tests are particularly valued where the job you are
applying for involves:
A high degree of problem solving
Dealing with complex data or concepts
Developing strategies or policies
Performing non-routine tasks where initiative is
Abstract Reasoning assesses your ability to understand complex
concepts and assimilate new information beyond previous
experience. The questions consist of items which require you to
recognize patterns and similarities between shapes and figures. As
a measure of reasoning, it is independent of educational and
cultural background and can be used to provide an indication of
Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests >