Score Better on Abstract Reasoning Tests

Abstract reasoning refers to an individual’s ability to identify and…

Abstract reasoning refers to an individual’s ability to identify and interpret relationships between shapes, patterns, and series.

It also has a significant effect on a person’s ability to brainstorm and come up with original and innovative solutions. It is a key component of fluid intelligence. It’s also why abstract reasoning questions are part of every aptitude test.

Abstract reasoning includes functions such as:

  • Lateral and flexible thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Inductive reasoning.

Simply put, abstract reasoning refers to the ability to understand intangible, non-physical concepts and possibilities.

woman sitting on bed with flying books
Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Abstract Thinking vs. Imagination

Abstract thinking and imagination may seem like the same thing. It’s easy to mistake one for the other, but those who have a complete understanding of cognitive processes know the subtle differences.

The main difference between abstract thinking and imagination is that imagination is a concept of the former. Imagination is part of many concepts that depend on abstract thinking.

In simple words, abstract thinking is a category, while imagination is a sub-category. Other abstract thinking concepts include:

  • Humor
  • Friendship
  • Jealousy
  • Freedom
  • Love 
  • Growth
  • Wisdom
  • Hope
  • Happiness
  • Success

The Importance of Abstract Reasoning

Abstract reasoning allows us to cover many work requirements. The modern workplace expects team members to be capable of thinking on their feet and responding to new information rapidly. Abstract reasoning is especially important for roles that work with dynamic and unpredictable variables.

Remember that a key ability derived from abstract reasoning is the ability to come up with creative solutions. 

You can think of it this way:

Logical reasoning deals with decision-making based on available information. Much like a computer or artificial intelligence, the results of such as decision depend highly on previous input or experience.

Abstract reasoning allows people to account for variables that have not materialized. Moreover, this cognitive process allows them to work with limited information and to fill in the informational gaps.

The information-gathering process takes time. Not all situations grant the luxury of time. Abstract reasoning allows team members to perceive problems from different angles and to account for unseen variables.

This cognitive ability, coupled with logical reasoning, makes for a very potent and reliable team member. 

Tips for Answering Abstract Reasoning Questions

Abstract reasoning tests are a staple of pre-employment and aptitude tests. They use non-verbal questions to gauge an examinee’s ability to figure out the correct order of a series and to identify anomalies therein.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your abstract reasoning and score high in assessments, try these few tips.

Familiarize Yourself with Question Types

Abstract reasoning questions are non-verbal and are, therefore, more difficult to learn. Unlike verbal and numerical questions, they tend to seem random and formless. The best way to solve abstract reasoning questions is to understand the thinking process involved.

Inventory – where you take account of all the factors and items in a series.

Pattern Detection – where you try to identify the patterns in a problem.

Elimination – where you choose the anomaly from the patterns.

Understanding the process will allow you to determine which steps need more work. Reasoning tests can be tricky because of their randomness. But, the more you practice the analytical process, the better your brain becomes at it. 

Make sure to take the time to follow patterns. The majority of reasoning test questions use similar patterns. The quicker you identify them, the sooner you’ll answer the questions.

Take Practice Tests

The internet includes a good number of practice reasoning tests you can use to train your brain. There are paid and free tests that can help you handle the questions of any abstract reasoning test better. Simply take the time to answer them, and analyze your answers after.

Play Some Games

Games are a fun way to improve your analytical skills. They make for great tests because they are engaging and fun. Puzzles and video games make for good examples because they often require players to solve problems without giving them information.

Video games, in particular, tend to follow a certain pattern. Once you’ve mastered how certain games work, you’ll learn to look for patterns and cues in them. Many puzzles and video games are free. This makes a fun and entertaining way to practice for an abstract reasoning test.

Talk To Someone with Good Abstract Reasoning Skills

If you want to learn how to answer an abstract reasoning test, consider asking for tips from people gifted in abstract reasoning. They can give you unique tips and insights into their mental processes.

In Summary

Abstract reasoning is an important skill for success in many careers. It’s why it’s a staple of any aptitude test. The best way to prepare for abstract reasoning tests is to practice. There are many free tests you can take in preparation for a real test. 

Understanding the cognitive process and introducing a structured approach are some of the most effective ways to improve your abstract reasoning. Your brain is a powerful tool that only gets better with use. Keep using it, and keep challenging it. Don’t stop learning.

Score Better on Abstract Reasoning Tests

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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