Analytical Reasoning Tests
Updated 4 November 2021
An analytical reasoning test is a way of measuring a candidate’s comprehension skills and their ability to identify key information, apply logic and find patterns.
This form of testing is used widely in recruitment, particularly when assessing candidates for training or graduate schemes.
Large organizations may use an analytical skills test in the early stages of the recruitment process to assess the aptitude of shortlisted candidates before moving onto the interview stage.
This allows recruiters to test several skills such as:
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Ability to apply logic
- Inductive reasoning
- Deductive reasoning
- Decision making
What to Expect When Taking an Analytical Reasoning Test
Analytical reasoning tests are often delivered online and completed by the candidate at a time of their choosing.
You will be given a final deadline for completing the test which, if missed, will eliminate you from the selection process.
The time allowed to complete the test is determined by the recruiter. Some apply rigid time constraints, so good time management and quick thinking is necessary.
Taking practice papers in advance can help you work out how long to spend on each question and which types of questions take more of your time.
Not all organizations apply a time limit, although they may give you an estimate of how long it will take or record the time taken.
In these cases, the testing program may present you with different questions, depending on how well you answered the previous one.
Although based upon a numerical format, this method of testing is not designed to assess your mathematical knowledge; it focuses on logic and reasoning skills instead.
Many job roles rely on analyzing numerical data, and if you are applying for roles in the finance, engineering, marketing or human resources industries, you are very likely to be asked to complete an analytical reasoning test containing non-verbal reasoning assessments.
Verbal reasoning is the process of using written information, identifying and analyzing key points, to draw conclusions.
These skills are often assessed during an analytical reasoning test by presenting a text-based question, such as an excerpt of a business report or research paper.
You will then be expected to answer questions by interpreting the information and applying logic to come to your conclusion.
Deductive vs Inductive Reasoning
Deductive reasoning is taking a set of facts and using them to make further statements of fact. So, for example:
- Package C weighs the same as package D
- Package F weighs twice as much as package D
Therefore, it is also a fact that the weight of two F packages is equal to the weight of four C packages.
Of course, there are many other facts that we can deduce from the initial statements, and a question in an analytical skills test will be more complex than this.
Inductive reasoning is the process of using the information you have to identify patterns and make predictions about what is likely to happen next. For example, take this table listing the population levels of Town A:
If you were asked to estimate the town population for 2020, you would use inductive reasoning to make your prediction.
Of course, your answer isn’t fact – but it shows that you have identified patterns and used logic to make an informed prediction.
In a test, a question that is asking you to use your inductive reasoning skills will often ask “What comes next?”.
Inductive logic is valued highly in the fields of engineering, IT and science.
Examples of Analytical Reasoning Questions
Here is an example of a relatively difficult analytical reasoning question.
It requires the candidate to use the statements that are presented to identify other statements that must also be true.
This question is a test of verbal and deductive reasoning skills:
From a group of seven undergraduate students (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G), four will be selected to give a presentation to the students' union. The following conditions must be met:
- Either A or B must be selected, but A and B cannot both be selected.
- Either E or F must be selected, but E and F cannot both be selected.
- E cannot be selected unless C is selected.
- G cannot be selected unless B is selected.
If we know that F is not selected to present, how many different groups of four can be made, following the above criteria?
If you take the facts listed in points 1 to 4 alongside the additional statement below (F is not selected to present), we can deduce that if F is not selected, then E must be selected.
Condition 3 determines that as E is selected, C must also be selected.
We now know that the selected groups that make up the answer must include C and E.
By logically following conditions 1 to 4, we can deduce that the following group combinations are possible:
A, C, D, E
B, C, E, G
B, C, D, E
Therefore, the correct answer is c) Three
An example of this type of question is:
Look at the top row of images. Which box comes next in the sequence?
There may be more than one pattern occurring in the same sequence. In this case, there are two:
The first is the number of sides the shape has, which decreases by one every time.
The second is the number of dots inside the shape which is one less than the number of sides the shape has.
The correct answer to this question, therefore, is A.
Non-verbal reasoning may also be assessed by asking a number series question. This involves spotting patterns in a series of numbers, using some basic mathematical principles to predict the next number.
What number comes next?
9, 15, 13, 19, 17, 23…
The pattern is alternating between adding six and subtracting two, making the next number 21.
How to Prepare for Analytical Reasoning Tests
Several different companies specialize in creating analytical reasoning tests. Asking your recruiter which provider they use will allow you to research practice papers beforehand.
To save unnecessary stress on the day, make sure you have the hardware and software needed to complete the test. Discovering that your laptop is about to run out of battery at the last minute is the last thing you need.
Take your time to read through the test instructions before you start answering questions. Making a note of time allowance is important, so be sure to revisit this as you progress through the test to make sure you manage your time efficiently.
Make sure you have all the necessary equipment with you. You may need a pen and paper for jotting down details and helping you work out your answers. If allowed, a calculator may also prove useful.
Consider answering the test questions in a different order than they are set. It may help to go through the test, answering questions you feel confident in, before returning to the more difficult questions. Try out this method in your practice tests beforehand to find what works for you.
Use a process of elimination when answering questions. Sometimes, it’s easier to spot the wrong answers than the right one. If you rule out enough of the wrong answers, you’ll get a head start on identifying the correct one.
Most importantly, stay calm. When faced with a difficult question, break it down, making notes as you go. Trust your ability – remember that all the necessary information is provided in the question, you are not being tested on any professional knowledge, just on your reasoning skills.
Many corporate recruiters rely on analytical reasoning tests as part of their selection process.
This type of psychometric test is designed to assess a candidate’s general aptitude as well as their ability to apply logic and reasoning.
Results are data-driven and can provide an objective measure of a candidate’s potential to fulfill the role they are applying for.
With adequate preparation, this is an ideal opportunity for a candidate to demonstrate their logical ability and professional competence.
Scores are compared against those of other candidates and will influence progression onto the next round of the process.
In some cases, candidates will automatically be discounted if they have poor results on the reasoning test.