Abstract reasoning test

The Abstract Reasoning Test used in EPSO councours is a component of the psychometric testing phase, which are the standardized selection procedures for recruiting staff to the European Commission and some other of the largest EU institutions. This test is designed to measure a candidate’s ability to identify patterns, logical rules, and trends in sequences of shapes and figures that are not related to any specific knowledge or language.

Sample abstract reasoning test
Sample abstract reasoning test | (c) EPSO

In an Abstract Reasoning Test, candidates are typically presented with a series of diagrams or matrices featuring shapes, symbols, or patterns. The sequences follow a specific, but often complex, set of rules. The test taker’s task is to discern the underlying rule or pattern governing the sequence and to identify which figure comes next in the series from a set of possible options.

To prepare for the Abstract Reasoning Test, candidates may consider the following strategies:

  1. Practice: Regularly practicing with sample abstract reasoning tests can help candidates become familiar with the types of patterns and rules commonly used. There are many resources and practice tests available online.
  2. Develop Pattern Recognition: Focus on improving the ability to recognize sequences, similarities, and differences between shapes and figures. This can be done by solving puzzles that involve pattern recognition, such as Sudoku or logic puzzles.
  3. Time Management: Since the test is timed, it is crucial to work on answering questions quickly and accurately. Practice under timed conditions to improve speed without sacrificing accuracy.
  4. Understand Test Format: Become familiar with the test format and instructions to avoid wasting time during the actual test on understanding the test structure.
  5. Stay Calm and Focused: Abstract reasoning can be challenging under time pressure. Develop a calm and focused test-taking strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed during the test.
  6. Review and Reflect: After practicing, review the correct answers to understand the logic behind each question. Reflecting on the patterns identified can help improve performance in future tests.

Most successful candidates report that they either practice every day for 1-3 hours for 2-3 weeks in advance of a test, or undergo a paid training programme.

The Abstract Reasoning Test is valued as it assesses cognitive abilities that are considered important for the analytical and problem-solving tasks often encountered in EU institutions. It is not dependent on linguistic or cultural knowledge, which helps ensure a fair and equitable selection process for a diverse applicant pool.

View an EPSO sample test.





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