Abstract reasoning – matrices
Abstract tests will almost always be part of your assessment. These tests gauge your intellectual and logical thinking capacity and are well suited to estimating your potential. During abstract tests, your education, experience, or background do not affect your results, which is why they are a good predictor of your future development. Although these tests seem to have no direct connection with the content of the job you are applying for, they provide an idea of the extent to which you can find solutions and whether you can work flexibly with unfamiliar information.
Each matrix problem consists of seventeen figures: nine problem figures and eight answer options (A to H). In a matrix problem, there are three options for rules to apply.
- The same rule applies both horizontally and vertically.
- One rule applies horizontally, while another rule applies vertically.
- The matrix is a continuous series from box 1 to box 9.
In the above example, one rule is applied both vertically and horizontally. See the example below. If you move box 2 over box 3, you will get box 1 (horizontal). If you move box 4 over box 5, you will also get box 1. This applies to all horizontal and vertical rows. The correct answer option, which should be where the question mark is (box 9), can therefore be solved in this way: box 6 + box 9 = box 3 and box 8 + box 9 = box 7. The correct answer must then be answer option H.
Let’s go over another sample problem.
The correct answer is C. In this example, a specific rule applies horizontally, and a specific rule applies vertically.
- The shapes are different in terms of the number of corners: boxes 1, 4, and 7 contain two corners per line. Boxes 2, 5, and 8 contain no corners per line. Finally, boxes 3, 6, and 9 contain one corner per line.
- The shapes differ vertically in how they interact. You could say that the lines slide over each other. Boxes 1, 2, and 3 only touch each other in the center and do not overlap. Boxes 4, 5, and 6 touch each other at two points. The two lines are still reasonably close together. Boxes 7, 8, and 9 also touch each other at two points, but there is considerably more space between the two lines.
There is another common element in this problem: all figures contain one thick line and one thin line. The thick line shifts further and further up; the thin line continues to move downwards.
Tips for matrix problems
A matrix problem can differ both in its primary rules (horizontal/vertical same line, horizontal/vertical separate line, continuous series) and in its common traits. There are a lot of things that you have to be aware of. Creating some matrix problems yourself would be a good exercise: it teaches you to think creatively and look at the figures from a broad perspective.
Below you will find a number of common features that you can look for in the matrix problems. Try to memorize these characteristics; the more rules/common elements that you are familiar with, the easier it is to quickly see through a matrix problem.
- The colors. What color patterns do you see per line?
- The number of elements per figure plus the number of elements per row.
- Each line contains certain shapes.
- Addition or subtraction. Box 1 + Box 2 = Box 3 or Box 1 – Box 2 = Box 3.
- A series: For example, does a rule become progressively more significant? Or does an element always become more significant or stand out more?
- The direction of a figure. Does a line always point to the left corner or downwards?
- How the figure is centered. Elements within a figure can pull it towards one specific side per vertical or horizontal row.
- For example, are there overlaps in color? Do blue and green lead to a red figure, while purple and orange lead to a yellow figure?
- Calculations. An example: the number of elements at the top of a figure can be added up or subtracted from the number of elements at the bottom of a figure.
- Similar relationships. Are line segments parallel to each other or do they cross each other?
- Patterns. Does a figure shift or rotate along the row?
Let’s use the traits mentioned above for the final sample problem.
- Each figure contains yellow stars (colors, shapes).
- Each figure contains a zigzag line in the center, two sloping lines, and one vertical line (shapes).
- We can also conclude that there are not as many stars above the line as below the line when we view the vertical and horizontal rows. We can therefore ignore this characteristic (number of elements).
- However, we can add and subtract here. If we see the stars above the line as PLUS and the stars below the line as MINUS, we can make some useful calculations. Stars in box 1 = +2, stars in box 4 = +1, stars in box 7 = +3. Box 1 + box 4 = box 7! Let’s take a moment to double check this. Stars in box 1 = +2, stars in box 2 = -4, stars in box 3 = -2. Box 1 + box 2 = box 3, meaning 2-4 = -2.
- The last thing to notice is that within a certain row, both horizontally and vertically, there are patterns in the lines. Each line is at a different angle in each row. In addition, the left corner in the figure is always empty.
Practice makes perfect!
It is very important to practice for a capacity test. If you do not practice, your score may be lower, and this often decreases your chances of getting that much-desired job! By practicing, you can solve problems more quickly and efficiently, so that your score will increase.
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