The aptitudes and abilities measured by verbal and numeric reasoning tests can easily be related to real-world tasks and jobs, as many jobs require some degree of skill with words and numbers. Abstract reasoning tests, on the other hand, seem to consist of questions that have little or no application in the real world. Yet these types of questions appear in most graduate and management aptitude tests. Why is this?
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Abstract reasoning tests date back to the research done by psychologist Charles Spearman in the 1920s. Spearman used a statistical technique called factor analysis to examine relationships between people’s scores on different types of intelligence tests.
He concluded that people who do well on some intelligence tests also do well on others (e.g. vocabulary, mathematics, spatial abilities). Conversely, if people do poorly on an intelligence test, they also tended to do poorly on other intellectual tests. This led him to believe that there are one or more factors that are common to all intellectual tasks.
Abstract reasoning tests use diagrams, symbols, or shapes instead of words or numbers. They involve identifying the underlying logic of a pattern and then determining the solution. Because they are visual questions and are independent of language and mathematical ability, they are considered to be an accurate indicator of your general intellectual ability as well as being ‘culturally fair’.
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Sources: Insignia Review Center – CHQ Institute Inc.