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What is Non-Verbal Reasoning?

Non-Verbal Reasoning

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains what is non-verbal reasoning.

grey clock icon 1:13 Quickly understand what is non-verbal reasoning.

Non-verbal reasoning (also known as abstract, logical, or inductive reasoning) describes an individual’s ability to understand and analyse visual information, such as patterns, images, and diagrams. Psychometrically speaking, non-verbal reasoning can be considered a facet of overall general cognitive ability, and thus large cognitive ability test batteries are likely to include sub-tests which are similar to non-verbal reasoning tests. Non-verbal reasoning is closely aligned to the concept of “fluid intelligence”, a person’s ability to solve problems using only logical reasoning (and not learned knowledge). As a cognitive aptitude, non-verbal reasoning is also particularly language-free, relying on visual information to represent questions, making them especially culture-fair.

Within the commercial space, there is little agreement between test publishers as to what constitutes a non-verbal reasoning test, and thus this term could refer to a wide range of different assessments. What one publisher calls non-verbal reasoning, another could call visual reasoning, and vice versa. Nevertheless, there are a few common themes among non-verbal reasoning tests. Non-verbal reasoning tests all involve logical rules which alter the shape, size, colour, or layout of certain diagrams. Test takers are then required to identify these logical rules, and then choose the answer which best follows those rules. Non-verbal reasoning tests will almost always have a single correct answer, usually with a number of possible answers. Lastly, non-verbal reasoning tests tend to minimise any verbal loading, and thus should require as little reading as possible.

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