Abstract Reasoning

Tips on Abstract Reasoning for Selective School Aspirants

Academically gifted students are allowed to learn and grow amongst like-minded children in Selective High Schools. They are provided with the nurturing and challenging environment in these public schools where they are prepared to succeed academically in the future.

Admission into selective public schools is entirely based on academic merit. Students need to appear and score high in selective school entry examinations regardless of where they live.  These tests are conducted in all states under different names with different styles, patterns, and curriculum.

Generally, the test consists of a test of the English language with tests on Reading and Writing some form of mathematical reasoning and either verbal or non-verbal reasoning in all the five states. In New South Wales, the general ability test consists of a mix of abstract reasoning and non-verbal reasoning questions are used to measure the reasoning capability of the child. In South Australia and Western Australia, abstract reasoning but not verbal reasoning is used to test the reasoning power of the student.

The abstract reasoning assesses the child’s ability to quickly acquire new information, power of analysing, innovative approach to solve the problem and making decisions in a rational way.

Let’s discuss tips on the types of abstract reasoning questions.

Figures of shapes, diagrams, and symbols will be shown in the test and the child’s ability to find the rules for the figures will be tested. Patterns and rules can be made using:

  • Size of shapes
  • Position of shapes
Shading of shapes from different angles
  • Direction of shape
  • Shading of shapes from different angles
  • Number of shapes in a pattern
Number of sides
  • Number of sides
Mirror images of different patterned shapes
  • Mirror images of different patterned shapes

Students should get familiar with several types of questions in the selective entry test. With this, they can answer much quicker with a proper technique for solving a particular type of question.

Find the figure that belongs to the group kind of questions

In such types of questions, the group of figures shown on the left follows a common rule or pattern. The answer which follows the same rules should be picked.


The four figures on the left are like each other in some way following a certain pattern. Find which of the five figures on the right is most like the four figures.

Pictures with common features                   Answer Pictures

Pictures with common features

How to solve this

  1. Find the rule true to all figures
  2. Eliminate the choice which is not following the said rule
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you are left with the correct answer.


Step 1:A black circle is seen on top of an object in all figures on the left regardless of the location which can be higher or lower as long as it’s on top. This can be seen as the rule.

Step 2:Now eliminate options B & E as the circle is white. This leaves with 3 possible options that are A, C and D. Repeat step 1.

Step 3: A rule for all the shapes on the left is that the shape below the circle must be black and white with the black area in half of the shape always.

Step 4: Eliminate option A as more than half the shape is black. Option D is also eliminated because the whole shape is white.

Step 5: The only option left is C, so it must be the correct answer.

Question with particular Code

Such questions have codes which are two letters and are used to describe figures. Each letter in the code represents a rule followed by the figure. Students need to find the meaning of each letter in code then select the right code for the figure.


Below are the four figures on the left with code letters that describe them. There is a shape next to a choice of five codes. The top letters give information about different features in the diagram to the bottom letters. Which code describes the shape?



Step 1: Each row gives information about a particular feature of the figures. The bottom row of letters has ‘N’ twice. What is the similarity between the two figures with the N? They both have triangles inside the circle. The 1st and 2nd figures have different letters and different shapes in their figures. This means that the letter in the bottom row gives information about the shape inside the circle.

Step 2: The top row has two letters in common, ‘G’. Both the figures with a ‘G’ have two objects inside the circle. The other figures have different letters in the top row and also have a different number of figures inside the shape. The letter in the top row means how many objects inside the circle.

Step 3: Looking at the final figure, it has 3 shapes inside the circle. The top row gives information about the number of shapes inside the circle so it must have the same top letter as a figure with 3 shapes inside the circle. The top letter must be ‘H’.

Step 4: The final figure has squares inside the circle. So, it must have the same bottom letter as a figure with squares. So the bottom letter must be ‘M’. The answer is code ‘a’ with an H on top and an M on the bottom.

You may be wondering where you can practise such questions for abstract reasoning.  You can find non-verbal/abstract reasoning questions in the selective test practice offered by Test Champs tailored according to your state.