Inductive Reasoning Tests

Practice tests, solutions, and tips to help you pass employers' inductive reasoning tests.

numerical reasoning hero image
moving x shape
moving lines of text on image


What is an inductive reasoning test?

An inductive reasoning test is used to assess logical problem solving ability. In simple terms, to test your ability to spot patterns in sequences of abstract shapes and lines.

They're a common part of many job application processes (often used in addition to numerical and verbal reasoning tests), and are particularly seen in jobs of a technical or engineering nature.

Accuracy and speed are incredibly important in tests of abstract reasoning, and you'll be scored accordingly. Therefore, it's important that you get the chance to practice in advance in order to increase your chances of coming out at the top of the pile.

What do inductive reasoning tests look like?

The most common form of inductive reasoning test involves spotting what patterns exist in a series of graphics. The patters are usually one of, or a combination of, the following: rotation; alternation, translation, reflection and replacement. If you practice you will learn to look for these transformations. If you think you have come up with the pattern, check it applies to every item in the sequence and you've found it. One of the reasons these tests are popular is they are entirely international; no language barrier exists as it is purely symbolic.

Here are screenshots of our inductive reasoning tests:

screenshot of inductive reasoning test 1
screenshot of inductive reasoning test 2

What do inductive reasoning tests consist of?

Inductive reasoning, logical reasoning, and abstract reasoning are often used interchangeably. Whilst they are in fact slightly different tests, the concept behind both inductive reasoning and abstract reasoning is to test the candidate's logical problem solving ability.

Inductive reasoning tests are one type of psychometric test frequently used in selecting applicants for job roles such as engineering and IT. You have to think logically and methodically against the clock to spot patterns in the sequence of graphics.

Usually the best way to approach inductive reasoning tests is to spot a pattern in the first two or three figures and quickly test out your theory by checking if this fits with the next figures. Practice will help.

Inductive reasoning video tutorial - Part 1

The following video is part 1 of our two part tutorial whereby we guide you through inductive reasoning questions highlighting the things to look out for:

inductive reasoning video tutorial part 1

The most common inductive reasoning tests used by employers

The term inductive reasoning is used only commercially by the test publisher SHL. Other test publishers tend to use other descriptions even though their format may be similar, for example: abstract reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, or logical reasoning. This can make it quite confusing as a candidate! The best thing to do is contact the employer or company who has invited you to take the test. They are usually very helpful and will likely provide you with at least more information on the nature of the test, or sometimes a few example questions.

  • 1. SHL Verify Ability Tests - SHL are the largest test publisher in the UK. Their inductive reasoning tests vary slightly in length depending on level: typically around 25 minutes. The format will be a series of five symbols which follow a logical pattern. Candidates will have to select from the multiple choice options which symbol comes next in the series, or which symbol is missing from the series. SHL's Verify range of tests have the option of a follow-up test in which the candidate is asked to re-take a shorter version of their first test. This can be used by the assessor to assess consistency and response patterns, and help identify the risk that the original test had not been completed by the candidate in question.
  • 2. IBM Kenexa Ability Tests - Kenexa are part of IBM and are also a large test publisher. Their series of assessments includes what they call a 'logical reasoning' test, but is almost identical in style to what SHL call 'inductive reasoning'. Like the SHL inductive test, this test requires the candidate to select from a multiple choice list a symbol which best fits a pattern of logic. A typical time limit is 20 minutes for 25 questions, but again, this can vary slightly depending on level of the role.
  • 3. Aon / Cut-e - Aon, also known as Cut-e, are another larger test publisher. They also have a wide suite of inductive reasoning assessments, which blur into deductive reasoning too. They denote many of their tests with a three-letter code, e.g. Inductive-Logic cls, Inductive-Logic clx. We have practice material for these tests and the Deductive-Logic lst. These are all relatively short tests consisting of 12 questions with a minute time limit for each question to the very quickfire 20 seconds or so for the Deductive-Logic lst. We explain in detail with pictures and step-by-step guides to many of Aon and Cut-e's tests.

Free practice inductive reasoning test

Free Inductive Reasoning Test

This free shortened inductive reasoning test contains 11 questions and has a time limit of 11 minutes.

Inductive Reasoning Test 1
  • 30 questions
  • 25 mins
Inductive Reasoning Test 2
Inductive Reasoning Test 3
Inductive Reasoning Test 4

Why it's important to practise inductive reasoning

As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. This is certainly the case when it comes to inductive reasoning tests. Being presented with them for the first time can be a bit of a shock, particularly if you haven't done anything specifically related to inductive reasoning in the past, and that in itself can be enough to affect your score. But, if you get the chance to see inductive reasoning tests first you'll be better prepared come test day, and if you practice your inductive reasoning skills you'll have a much better chance of success.

Latest Stats

We asked candidates what they found was the most difficult part of their inductive reasoning test, 30% said 'timekeeping' was the hardest!

most difficult part of inductive tests

With so many different elements that could trip you up, it's essential to practise. Skills can always be improved if you spend enough time on them, and if you get a better understanding of what's involved in inductive reasoning tests you'll be much more capable of securing that perfect score. If you want to get that job it's essential that you show your skills in inductive reasoning to the best of your ability, so why risk it? Make sure to try plenty of practice tests first and you'll be much more confident.

How to pass inductive reasoning tests - top tips

We've covered everything there is about the format of the tests, now it's time to talk about how to pass inductive reasoning tests. Here are our 6 actionable inductive reasoning tips to help you ace your test:

1. Practice, practice, practice

We've mentioned it earlier so we won't go into detail on this again, but the key to improving your inductive reasoning skills is to practice as many inductive reasoning tests as possible. I really can't emphasise this point enough.

2. Identify rules as fast as possible

To be able to find the correct answer in an inductive reasoning test, you need to know the pattern. So identifying the pattern fast is the most important thing you can do. This could be a repeating pattern, a sequence of numbers, or a set of rules that apply to each element in the sequence. But how do you identify the pattern? well that brings us onto the next tip...

Start practising quality tests with a free account

Practice makes perfect

  • Learn from detailed solutions
  • Track your progress
Start for free
woman sitting next to illustrations of assessmentday platform

3. Have a system

Having a systematic approach will ensure that you are efficient with your time and don't miss any important information. The type of rules used in inductive reasoning tests are often very similar. This could involve identifying the most prominent features of the data, looking for repeating patterns, or considering the order in which the data is presented.

Here are some of the common patterns:

  • Rotation: The sequence of shapes or symbols may rotate or flip in a consistent pattern.
  • Reflection: The sequence may reflect across a line or axis in a consistent pattern.
  • Alternating: The sequence may alternate between two or more different elements in a consistent pattern.
  • Progression: The sequence may follow a consistent progression, such as increasing or decreasing in size, shape, or shade/colour.
  • Repeating: The sequence may repeat a pattern of elements in a consistent pattern.
  • Position: The position of elements within the sequence may follow a consistent pattern, such as moving clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • Combination: The sequence may combine multiple rules or patterns in a consistent manner.

It's important to note that these are just a few examples of the many rules and patterns that can be used in inductive reasoning tests. Exposure to practice tests will increase your familiarity with the types of patterns and you will become quicker and sharper at identifying the patterns and rules.

4. Use your time wisely

Inductive reasoning tests are often timed, so it's important to manage your time effectively. Try to allocate a set amount of time to each question. If you feel like you are starting to spend too much time on a single question, quickly assess if you think you extra time spent will be worth it or not. If you are close to working it out, then the extra few seconds are worth the correct answer, however if you are unsure, then it's best to make an educated guess based on the information you have gathered so far and move onto the next question.

5. Don't assume

One of the most common mistakes that candidates make in inductive reasoning tests is assuming that a pattern or rule will continue indefinitely. Always consider alternative possibilities and don't assume that the sequence will follow a particular pattern - check to make sure the pattern is correct throughout the whole of the available sequence, there may be red-herrings thrown in there to trick the less attentive candidates, where it will look like it could be a rule but it doesn't fully work.

6. Pay attention to detail

Inductive reasoning tests often involve subtle differences in the data, so it's important to pay close attention to detail. Often it will be little things that change such as the number of elements in each part of the sequence, the orientation of shapes, or the position of symbols. It's these little details that will more often than not be the cornerstone of each rule, so it's important to look closely.

Inductive reasoning video tutorial - Part 2

The following video is part 2 of our two part tutorial whereby we guide you through inductive reasoning questions highlighting the things to look out for:

inductive reasoning video tutorial part 2

Inductive reasoning FAQs

  • What is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning?
  • What does an inductive reasoning test measure?

    Inductive reasoning tests measure logic skills which are useful for solving problems. They require you to think broadly and in your head test out different possibilities. The skills required to do well in an inductive reasoning test are applicable to most jobs but particularly applicable to engineering, science and IT. It has been said that females are better at two dimensional problems while males are better at 3D problems. Most inductive reasoning tests involve thinking about transformations in 2D but there are also sometimes 3D problems such as choosing which net correctly forms a given cube.

  • Are inductive reasoning tests hard?

    Some people will be naturally better at inductive reasoning tests than others due to their ability to see patterns and connections. If you struggle with abstract formats and shapes then you will likely find inductive reasoning tests to be hard, but it is a skill that can be developed with practice.

  • What jobs use inductive reasoning?

    Inductive reasoning is particularly important for jobs in engineering, science and IT roles, including software development jobs.