What is an inductive reasoning test?
An inductive reasoning test is used to test the logical problem solving ability of each candidate - in other words, to see whether you think logically and methodically, as tested by your ability to spot patterns in a series of figures. 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.
Here are screenshots of our inductive reasoning tests:
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.
Watch part 1 of our inductive reasoning tutorial below for a walkthrough of an inductive reasoning question:
Free example inductive reasoning tests
Try one of our free tests to see how they help you improve.
With each of the free inductive reasoning tests below, there is a set of five graphics which follow a pattern. The objective is to determine which of the possible four options would logically follow in the sequence. Only one of the given options is correct.
Free Inductive Reasoning Test 1
This free inductive reasoning test contains 11 questions and has a time limit of 11 minutes.
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 (part of CEB) 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. 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.
Why its 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.
We asked candidates what they found was the most difficult part of their inductive reasoning test, 30% said 'timekeeping' was the hardest:
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.
Below you can find part 2 of our inductive reasoning tutorial video:
Inductive Test Takers' FAQs
Q: What is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning?
Inductive logic is different from deductive logic. With deductive reasoning, possible outcomes are explored and discounted in order to arrive at the only possible outcome without contradicting the given premises. Sudoku puzzles are a classic test of deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is open and explorative. It examines the applicant's ability to reach general conclusions based on perceived patterns observed in specific events. Real-life arguments are often inductive; which is why employers want to know how good you are at inductive reasoning.
Q: 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.
Q: 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.