Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests: Example Questions & Tips
Updated 28 May 2021
What Are Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests?
Non-verbal reasoning tests are a category title, rather than a single test. The term refers to the following different tests, among others:
Non-verbal reasoning tests are designed to measure an individual’s ability to problem-solve and analyze visual information, such as diagrams and patterns.
They do not rely on technical or industry knowledge, language or mathematical skills, but simply an individual’s reasoning capability and, it could be argued, intelligence.
When Can You Expect to Take a Non-Verbal Reasoning Test?
Employers, universities and schools use non-verbal reasoning tests in their application processes.
This type of test stands alone; it is not something that can be studied for, and therefore it provides companies and institutions with a true picture of an individual’s abstract thinking ability.
Questions in a non-verbal reasoning test are presented visually, asking the candidate to make sense of a diagram or a pattern, and solve the problem using logic.
These tests are most popular in technical industries where logic, problem-solving and strategy are essential skills – such as engineering, IT or in the military.
However, given the power the tests have in exposing an individual’s true, raw ability, they are growing in popularity throughout many different sectors.
Inductive reasoning tests, for example, measure an individual’s ability to be flexible when faced with unfamiliar information and come up with solutions.
This type of test is useful to organizations in a wide range of different industries; especially ones that require adaptable individuals who are motivated to find a solution to a problem.
What Format Do Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests Normally Take?
The types of questions you might find in a non-verbal reasoning test include:
Finding the missing item by working out a pattern of logic in a matrix-style diagram
Establishing a set of rules from a sequence of inputs and outputs in a diagram, then applying those rules to a new sequence where information is missing
Looking at shapes or patterns and deciphering what comes next
Visualizing a 3D shape or working with mirror images/reflections
Working out cube nets or what shapes will look like when folded
Some employers use paper tests, whilst others opt for online versions.
There are often more questions than most people could complete within the given time; the tests are all about assessing an individual’s accuracy and speed.
Examples of Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests
Below are three non-verbal reasoning examples. Below each question is an answer and an explanation.
The answer to this question is: B
You need to look at the table and identify a pattern to find which shape should go in the empty box.
On each line, the moon shape is rotating 45 degrees from left to right.
Therefore, in the bottom row, the mirror image moon tilts 45 degrees to the right; another 45 degrees would have its two points at the top, as is the case in picture B.
The answer to this question is: C
You need to apply each rule separately to get the answer. Firstly, look at how the lightning bolt is affecting the sequence; it is making all symbols rotate 90 degrees.
By comparing the first set of symbols to the second set, you should then be able to identify the second rule; the second and third symbols have swapped places, meaning the missing symbol must be the heart.
The answer to this question is: C
You must work with the spot and the line in isolation. Look at the pattern the spot takes; it jumps two points each time.
Do the same with the line; it moves one point each time.
So, to identify the next box in the sequence, mentally move the spot two spaces to the right and move the line one space to the right.
How to Pass Non-Verbal Reasoning Tests
These types of tests are valued because they cancel out the need for existing knowledge.
Whilst it is not possible to revise for the tests, there is preparation you can do.
A crucial element of preparation for a non-verbal reasoning test is to familiarise yourself with the format.
At first glance, a test of this kind can be extremely daunting; it’s easy for panic to set in, which is not conducive to logical thinking.
By looking at the types of questions you will be faced with, you will become more comfortable with the format and be able to think clearly when under pressure.
Working through practice tests can help condition your brain to the question types and enable you to get to an answer quicker.
Some other tips:
Practice your accuracy and the art of checking back through your work for errors or misread questions.
Don’t be afraid to draw the shapes and experiment on paper before writing your answer – you might be provided with a piece of rough paper and a pencil, but if not, ask.
Pay attention to details and read the question carefully.
Be mindful of time; work as quickly as you can but without sacrificing your accuracy. Take note of any time limits the test has.
Practice working methodically; apply each rule in isolation rather than trying to tackle more than one rule at once.
Non-verbal reasoning tests offer an employer or institution a window into the mind of an individual.
A simple test can reveal how effective the person is at problem-solving, whether they can work methodically, how well they cope with visual information and the speed at which they can find solutions.
These types of tests are growing in popularity across all industries, because of their value to organizations.
An employer can ask the question, “Do you consider yourself to be proficient at problem-solving?”, and you can have a perfectly crafted response detailing your abilities.
Yet is only when they put a problem in front of you and ask you to solve it, that they truly know your capabilities.