Sample Spatial Ability Questions
Spatial ability is required in technical and design jobs where drawings and plans are used, for example; architecture, surveying, engineering, and design. It is also important in some branches of science and technology where 3 dimensional components are interacting.
Spatial ability questions are not routinely used in graduate and management level tests unless the job specifically requires good spatial skills. Do not be misled by the fact that some of these questions look similar to abstract reasoning questions. Spatial ability questions are concerned only with your ability to mentally manipulate shapes, not to identify patterns and make logical deductions. Unless the job you are applying for demands spatial skills, you are unlikely to face this type of question.
There is one exception. If you are applying for a job in the military, police or emergency services then you may be asked one specific type of spatial question. This will involve a map or street plan and you will need to show that you understand directions as they appear on a map and that you can use the map to plan, follow or describe routes.
Remember, employers use spatial ability questions where the job involves: drawings, plans or the manipulation of shapes. You are not likely to be asked to mentally manipulate three dimensional shapes unless the job requires it.
Sample Spatial Ability Questions
1) Which figure is identical to the first?
Hint: Only one of the figures is a rotation of the first - the others are reflections or slightly modified in some way. The best approach is to pick out one obvious feature and use it to eliminate as many of the options as possible as quickly as possible. In this example, the cross of the T shape has the black-centered square immediately clockwise.
2) Which group of shapes can be assembled to make the shape shown?
Hint: Begin by eliminating as many options as you can on the basis of size. In this example 'C' cannot be correct because the area of the shapes is simply too large. Similarly 'A' is too small. You are then left with only two sets of shapes that you actually need to mentally manipulate.
3) Which shape in Group 2 corresponds to the shape in Group 1?
Hint: These 2 dimensional spatial questions are usually fairly straightforward but you may be asked to complete a number of them in a limited time. Note that in this example some of the shapes in Group 2 are rotations of those in Group 1. These questions use a large number of shapes that are presented close together. Some people find this very distracting and find it easier to work through the shapes in the second group systematically.
4) Which pattern can be folded to make the cube shown?
Hint: Sometimes all six faces on the pattern may be shown, which can make these questions look very difficult. However, only three faces of the cube can be shown in the three dimensional illustration, which means that you need only consider the relationship between the three visible elements on the cube and see if the same relationship exists in the pattern.
This type of question often appears in tests for military, police and emergency services jobs where the ability to follow or give directions based on a map or street plan is a day-to-day part of the job.
5) Patrolman Smith is facing the Anglo-American Oil Company HQ with the Axo Insurance building behind him, which direction is he facing?
6) Officer McKay starts from location ‘O’ and proceeds as follows: left onto plaza way - heading North, second left - heading west, second left - heading south, first left - heading east. She proceeds for one block. What is her location?
Hint: Make sure that you are familiar with the points of the compass before you attempt these questions. It can also be helpful to draw on the map as you follow or plan routes.
Spatial aptitude tests measure your ability to manipulate shapes in two dimensions or to visualize three-dimensional objects presented as two-dimensional pictures. These tests are usually of 20-40 minutes duration and contain 20-30 questions. All spatial tests rely on you being able to imagine what would happen in your mind's eye. Unfortunately, about 5% of the adult population find it impossible to imagine two-dimensional shapes being moved through a third dimension. This is thought to be because there is a genetic factor involved in spatial reasoning ability.