Pass Your Non-Verbal / Abstract Reasoning Exam

Rote-learning isn’t going to help you better answer aptitude or psychometric test questions... but creative thinking will. Get 5 example practice abstract/non-verbal reasoning questions with step-by-step solutions & creative thinking tips from experts.

It doesn't matter how bright you are, an abstract reasoning quiz can easily make anyone freeze on the spot.

Just look at the sample question below:

There's a good chance you've never even dealt with these kinds of problems before - which is precisely why so many job seekers, students and graduates struggle with abstract reasoning tests.

Contrary to other aptitude tests such as numerical and verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning questions require you to deal with shapes, images, and graphic elements rather than words or numbers.

So why do we need non-verbal psychometric tests in the first place?

The purpose of an abstract/non-verbal reasoning test is to show how well you solve visual problems, how fast you identify patterns as well as think strategically and creatively when dealing with unfamiliar information.

You're likely to get tested in non-verbal reasoning aptitude when:

  • applying for a job (e.g. Defence Force and Police test)
  • trying out for a gifted education program (GEP and GAT screening in Singapore).
  • seeking entry into a selective or elite private school (like NSW HSPT & WA GATE in Australia, Ukcat and 11 plus assessment by CEM & GL in the UK)
  • competing for a scholarship (ACER and Academic Assessment Services in Australia)

If you're sitting one of the above exams soon, it's a good idea to take an abstract reasoning test to see how you’d score. Check out our test bank trial for free non-verbal reasoning practice online.

Regardless of the exam type, most abstract reasoning subtests are multiple-choice and are time restricted – with an average of 30 seconds/question.

The difficulty grows with age groups. Non-verbal reasoning tests for 9 and 10-year-olds in Year 6 might be more lenient in terms of time than exams tailored for 13-year-olds. Whereas job seekers and graduates will have to deal with a time limit sometimes as short as 20 seconds/question.

If you want to stand out from the crowd and gain a significant advantage in life, you need to do well in your abstract reasoning test.

And there is only one secret to doing well in the non-verbal / abstract reasoning test – smart preparation.

Myth: More Practice Questions = Higher Score

When it comes to aptitude test prep, the majority take a "the more – the better" approach.

It's common to see parents flooding their primary school children with assessment books, most of which they never finish. A poll by a company OpenSchoolbag in Singapore, for example, found that kids manage to work through only 60% of the test prep books their parents buy.

People believe that the time they spend hunching over non-verbal reasoning worksheets, pdf practice tests, and abstract reasoning books is proportional to their chances for success. And the more sample questions they do - the more prepared they are for what's waiting for them in the test.

This approach couldn't be more wrong.

In fact, there's a better and easier approach to aptitude test practice - an approach that saves time, money, and on top of that, is extremely effective. We've been using it in our online courses and practice tests and have seen massive success so far.

Here it is:

Choose quality over quantity.

Instead of rushing blindly through thousands of free abstract reasoning pdf's and practice tests online, it's important to understand HOW to answer the question so that you can use this process for other questions.

Focus on each and every sample question, read step-by-step explanations, and understand the logic behind every solution.

See how our abstract reasoning course can help you ace your abstract/non-verbal reasoning test:

5 Abstract/Non-Verbal Reasoning Test Tips - With Sample Questions & Solutions

Go into the exam room with tricks and tips that you can use can help you perform better in the test. See our 5 test tips below.

Test Tip 1: Look at individual parts that make up ‘whole’ patterns

To answer questions that involve patterns, we need to first look at the individual components to see what they’re doing (and whether a pattern exists).

In the question below, the first column images transfer to a 3rd column image and the same goes with the 2nd and 4th column. Looking at how these images change gives you the pattern you’re looking for to solve the answer (see the solutions video below).

All these questions have been taken from our teaching test bank - get 40 free sample aptitude test questions (including 8 non-verbal/abstract reasoning questions) with expert video solutions here.

Question 1:


Watch the solutions video to find out how we answer this question in 5 steps or less.

Test Tip 2: A change in direction could be rotation or reflection

When the object is changing its direction, we're most likely dealing with:

  • rotation (clockwise or anti-clockwise) or,
  • reflection (can be flipped on different types of planes e.g. horizontal, vertical etc…)

You can learn these strategies in our abstract reasoning online course.

If rotation is clearly not the case in a question, try reflection.

Question 2:


The 2nd box is a reflection of the 1st one on the horizontal axis, while the 3rd box is the reflection of the 2nd one on the vertical axis. We can now formulate a rule: the black arrow gets reflected on the horizontal and vertical axis successively.

The correct answer is A.

Ready to start preparing yourself? See available test prep to get started straight away.

Test Tip 3: Memorise flip/reflection rules

Non-verbal reasoning questions often involve flips or reflection. Here are some rules to remember:

  • What was left is on the right if flipped on a vertical plane.
  • What was top goes to the bottom if stacked on each other. Therefore, the most visible part is what was on the bottom.
  • What was at the top is now at the bottom if flipped on a horizontal plane.

Question 3:


Watch the solutions video to find out how we answer this question in 5 steps or less.

Test Tip 4: Use SPONCS

Follow the SPONCS formulas to save precious time and quickly spot common patterns. Remember to check for the simplest patterns first. Remember that patterns may occur within individual parts of an image or in a sequence of images.

SPONCS stands for:

  • S - Shape
  • P - Position
  • O - Orientation
  • N - Number
  • C - Colour
  • S - Size

Question 4:


When applying the SPONCS formula, we can quickly evaluate that:

  • S – the shape of elements doesn’t change
  • P & O – the position of the dots changes, but seems chaotic in this case
  • N – the number changes in every box
  • C - the color doesn’t change
  • S – the size is common for all boxes.

We're clearly dealing with a number pattern here. Let's count the number of dots in each box to see if we can find a rule that the dots follow.

Having counted the number of dots in each individual box, we can formulate two rules.

Rule #1: The number of dots in the top box decreases by 2 every time (To get from 7 to 5 and from 5 to 3, we need to eliminate 2 dots).

Following this rule, the next top box in the sequence should contain only 1 black dot.

Rule #2: The number of dots in the bottom box increases by 2 every time (To get from 2 to 4, and from 4 to 6, we need to add 2 dots).

The next bottom box in the sequence should contain only 8 black dots. The correct answer is B.

Test Tip 5: Look at what’s constant and what’s changing

Every non-verbal aptitude test question has a "pattern," a rule (or a combination of rules) that governs it. Your job is to uncover the pattern.

A good strategy to use is comparison between what’s changing and what’s constant. Something that remains constant can be a pattern in its own right. It might be that every second image is the same image. Knowing something like this can help you eliminate answer options and make it quicker for you to get through questions.

Let’s see this in action through Question 5.

Question 5:


Let's evaluate the individual parts of the whole image.

We have black and white circles with small circles and squares inside. The task is to fill out the sequence.

With many similar elements within the problem, we can assume that we're dealing with a number pattern. Let's test this hypothesis and count the small white circles on the left side.

There’s a clear pattern here: The number of small circles on the left increases by 2 with every next step.

That is because to get from 1 to 3, and from 7 to 9, we need to add 2 elements. The correct answer should have 5 small circles on the left. We can already eliminate options B and E from available options since they don't fit the rule.

Let’s count the elements on the right side of the circle.

We can spot another rule right away: the number of elements on the right is always 6. The correct answer is A.

Try The Smartest Online Practice To Pass The Abstract Reasoning Test

Do abstract reasoning questions make your head spin? Don’t know where to start? Exam Success is here to guide you.

Our Australian experts have invented a smart and fun way to prepare for your upcoming abstract reasoning test.

Online Course

Get the most of your study time with a simple and easy-to-follow online abstract reasoning course that fits around your schedule. Master score-boosting strategies from a top 5% Australian exam scorer, practice with realistic test questions and in-depth explanations, and, most importantly, have fun!

Abstract Reasoning Test Bank

Hone your test technique and see your confidence sky-rocket with our online abstract reasoning test bank. Created by all-star Australian exam experts, our sample questions replicate the style and format of the actual exam. Made a mistake? No problem. Our test banks include step-by-step explanations and solutions to every question so you could laser focus on your weakest areas on your path to success.

See what’s available now...

Abstract Reasoning (Non-Verbal Reasoning) Online Test Preparation Course

Confused by those alien-looking non-verbal reasoning questions? This self-paced online abstract reasoning course will walk you through everything you need to know to sail through your upcoming aptitude test.

Get ready to:

  • learn all sorts of patterns typical for an abstract reasoning test
  • find out how to approach questions strategically
  • discover time-saving tips and tricks to maximise your score.

With hundreds of test-like question samples and detailed answers, you'll get ample practice to work through even the most difficult puzzles and avoid the pitfalls commonly used in entrance exams for selective schools and scholarships.

Great for:

  • NSW HSPT (General Ability)
  • Academic Assessment Services scholarship and selective schools assessments
  • ACER scholarships and selective schools exams like Perth Modern, WA GATE and Brisbane State High School (when sitting the exam in Year 6).
  • NSW Police Force Test
  • Vic Police Test and PSO Test

After purchase, you gain immediate access to your course for 6 months to get a head start on your test prep.

The price above is inclusive of 10% GST. If you are purchasing for use outside of Australia, at checkout, you'll be charged the amount without GST

Have A Question?

Get in touch!