Abstract reasoning

The CSPA abstract reasoning assessment contains questions requiring candidates to identify abstract patterns, rules and relationships, generate and evaluate hypotheses and to draw conclusions.

Consistent with assessment of fluid intelligence, Gf (general ability to think logically and solve novel problems), CSPA abstract reasoning items assess abstract reasoning skill using items in Next in sequence and Complete the pattern form, which require students to identify rules and relationships by hypothesis testing. Another item type includes Middle of sequence questions, whereby the sequence is jumbled and needs to be reordered.  Generation of appropriate hypotheses and evaluation of evidence are important skills in such tasks.

Such items are particularly useful when assessments need to be conducted independent of language skills.  Abstract reasoning items are not suitable for alignment to the ACSF.  However, the assessment of non-verbal reasoning is widely applicable to any training program and is related to educational outcomes.

Common types of items 

Next in sequence (NIS)

For a sequence of four diagrams that change according to a particular rule or rules, identify the option that most logically comes next.

More specifically, item types can focus on rules and relationships involving aspects such as the following:

  • Progressive changes in size, shape, pattern
  • Movement or changes in elements, or changes in relationship between elements
  • Numerical rules
  • Combination or disassociation of elements
  • Rotation

Complete the pattern (CTP)

For a diagram made of segments, identify the option that most logically fits into the blank segment area.

More specifically, item types can focus on patterns, rules and relationships involving aspects such as the following:

  • Analogy
  • Reflection
  • Progressive changes in size, shape, pattern
  • Movement or changes in elements, or changes in relationship between elements
  • Numerical rules
  • Pattern completion
  • Combination or disassociation of elements
  • Rotation

Middle of sequence (MOS)

A variant of Next in sequence, in which the five stages are presented in jumbled order and the correct order needs to be determined.

Item difficulty may be varied according to the number, type, subtlety and complexity of elements, patterns, rules and relationships, and by combining item types.