A Guide to the Raven's Progressive Matrices Test: Tips & Examples
Updated November 20, 2023
Raven's Progressive Matrices is a pre-employment aptitude test measuring general and fluid intelligence.
There are three different versions; the one you will sit on depends on the role you have applied for and the skill set required.
As the results of this test determine whether or not you progress to the next stage of recruitment, preparing is essential.
This article will explain what the test is, the different versions available and how best to prepare yourself.
Raven's Progressive Matrices was developed by J.C. Raven in the 1930s in the UK and is currently licensed by Pearson PLC.
It was developed to assess how far a person's upbringing and genetics influenced their intelligence.
As the test is visual and, therefore, has no cultural and ethnic bias, it is considered a reliable tool for measuring general and fluid intelligence.
The Raven Intelligence Test was first used by the British Army during WWII. Today, it is more commonly used by employers during recruitment to measure non-verbal reasoning skills such as:
The test requires candidates to identify the rule in a set of images and decide which comes next.
As it is part of the recruitment process, the Raven test is typically taken online in a place and time of your choosing.
Due to the complexity of the scoring system, scores are not shown as percentages or the number of correct answers.
Instead, the algorithm gives a percentile rank measured against a population group relevant to the role you applied for.
Since its development, Ravens assessment has been adapted and updated.
The three versions used today include:
- Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices
- Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices
- Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices
Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices is the original version of the test published in 1938 and consists of five sets of 12 images.
The images are black and white, with each image in each set becoming progressively more difficult to solve.
There are 60 questions and a 40-minute time limit. At the end of the 40 minutes, the test is automatically scored.
The standard version is most commonly used for entry-level and lower management roles, as well as those positions where analytical skills are essential.
Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices uses the first two sets from the Standard version and an additional set designed for this assessment.
As the name suggests, the images are in color and primarily for:
- Children aged five to 11
- Elderly with reduced cognitive abilities
- Those with physical or mental impairments
The final version is Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices.
This version is far more complex and consists of 36 questions with a 40-minute time limit.
All questions are presented in black and white.
The advanced test is often assigned to candidates applying for higher management positions.
Identify the right image for the empty slot '?'.
Identify the right image for the empty slot '?'.
Identify the right image for the empty slot '?'
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While Ravens Matrices can appear random, there are certain rules that the questions follow. Learning and understanding these rules will help you solve them much quicker.
The most common are:
Row consistency – This is where the pattern remains the same along the row but changes down the column.
Quantitative progression – This is seen in Q3 above, where the sequence either increases or decreases. Depending on the image, the change could be in size, number or position.
Adding or subtracting – This is seen in Q2 above and is when an element from one column is added or removed in the next to create the final image.
Distribution of three values – This rule occurs when three elements appear in each row. Usually, you will have two sets of three elements. For example, each row will have a circle, square and rectangle. Layered on top of those shapes will be three different types of lines.
Distribution of two values – Follows the same process as three values, except only two of the elements matter. The difficult bit is deciding which one of the three elements is not part of the rule.
Other rules and patterns in the Ravens assessment might include:
- Movements around a grid
- Changes in size
- Changes in shape
- Mirror images or reflections
How to Prepare for the Raven's Progressive Matrices Test
For those unfamiliar with these types of questions, the Raven Matrices IQ Test can be extremely challenging. The only way to ensure you perform your best is to prepare using the following tips.
Going into a test without knowing how the questions look, what you are being assessed on and how many you need to answer causes a lot of unnecessary stress and time wasting.
As there are no specific subject areas to learn, completing a Raven's test practice online is the best way to prepare.
The more questions you complete, the more familiar you will become with the patterns and rules.
At the start of your preparation, work through 60 questions in your own time. As your confidence grows, begin adding time limits until you can answer all 60 questions within 40 minutes.
You can also complete any diagrammatic reasoning test, as the questions tend to follow the same rules.
There are only so many patterns a test can use.
When working through your practice questions, learn and understand as many rules as you can. This way, you can easily identify and solve them in the real test.
During your Raven's Progressive Matrices Test practice, get in the habit of writing down your thoughts and how you came to the solution you did.
Doing this will help you see where you can improve your thought process and establish good habits for the real test.
During your assessment, you are allowed scrap paper to make notes. Having a system of abbreviations and symbols that you developed and are comfortable with will make your thinking process much quicker.
If you practice using time limits, you should know how long you need for each question.
Getting into a steady rhythm at the start of the Raven test will keep you on schedule and help with the speed and accuracy element of your score.
If you find a question particularly challenging, quickly move on and come back to it if you have enough time.
Your score is based on more than the number of questions answered correctly. Don't let one question ruin your rhythm or confidence.
The Raven's Progressive Matrices is an aptitude test assessing a candidate's general and fluid intelligence. The test areas include spatial awareness, abstract reasoning and cognitive thinking.
The most common version of the test consists of 60 questions and is administered to entry-level and junior management roles. The advanced version has 36 questions and is used for senior management roles.
As the questions in the Raven's Progressive Matrices are not ones you might answer on a daily basis, it can be a challenging test to sit.
However, with the right preparation and confidence, you can achieve your best score.
The best way to prepare for the Raven's Progressive Matrices is to complete as many practice questions as you can and learn the rules the patterns might follow.
The Raven's Progressive Matrices measures abstract reasoning, cognitive functioning, spatial reasoning, analogical ability and problem-solving skills.
As the test only uses images, it is a great tool for assessing fluid and general intelligence.
If you want to ace the Raven's Progressive Matrices test, you will need to prepare by completing as many practice questions as you can and learning how to identify and solve the rules they use.
The Raven's Progressive Matrices is a very accurate measure of fluid and general intelligence.
It only uses images which means there are no cultural and ethnic biases, there are no specific subjects to learn, and the questions get progressively harder meaning the candidate only has their abilities to depend on.
There are 60 questions on Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices test and 36 on the advanced version.
Yes, Raven's Progressive Matrices is a test of your general and fluid intelligence.
There are three versions of the Raven IQ test. The Colored Progressive Matrices is for children, the elderly and those with mental and physical impairments.
The Standard Progressive Matrices is for a majority of the population. The Advanced Progressive Matrices is for those demonstrating advanced cognitive abilities.
If you are taking the Raven's Progressive Matrices test as part of the recruitment process, then yes, the test is important.
Only those candidates with the best scores will make it through to the next stage.