Abstract Reasoning Tips – QPSea Practice Tests


Alrighty, the abstract reasoning exam is everyone’s favourite part of the the QLD entrance exam right? We’ll if you’re like me, I struggle in this area.

I find it hard to answer these questions due to;  

  • Difficulty finding any notable patterns
  • Struggling to visualise shapes being rotated or mirrored
  • Managing pressure due to the clock ticking away, “if only I had more time!”

Abstract exams can be a headache, but with that said, below are some abstract reasoning tips that will hopefully make life a bit easier on the QLD Entrance Exam.

Key take-away
I doubt most people are looking at these sort of questions in their spare time, so the key take away would be if you are concerned about this section is to practice as much as you can, and I found it beneficial to re-do abstract reasoning exams a week later, to help sharpen the skills in answering them. Also, out of the 3 different types of questions in the exam, the ‘Complete the Pattern’ section is the most difficult, so I would recommend answering the other 2 sections first, before moving onto the Complete the Pattern questions, in order to best use your time. 

Let’s look at the 3 types of questions:

#1 Next in sequence

The QLD Candidate Information booklet thankfully provides a clear guide on what type of questions will be shown in the abstract reasoning exam, starting with; Next in sequence.

This type of question is all about finding the pattern to the sequence and then applying that pattern to the possible answers. Let’s look at some examples.

Here we can see an arrow rotating 45 degrees clockwise each time. There is also a grey circle that changes position. It moves around each of the four sides of the arrow in each frame.  When it comes to the answers, note that usually two of the answers are clearly wrong leaving one choice that is closer to the actual answer. Quickly eliminating the obvious incorrect answers is a good strategy in increasing the time to answer questions.  Looking at the possible answers, we know that the arrow from the fourth frame should rotate another 45 degrees, making it point to the right. This eliminates answer B. C has no circle, so we can eliminate this as an answer as clearly, the four squares in the sequence contained a circle. Leaving A and D as our possible answers. So how do we know where the circle will be in the fifth square? Well the circle starts on the left side of the arrow and moves clockwise, so we can rule out A as the circle is in the same position as the 3rd square in the sequence. Though the process of elimination, we find the answer, which is D.

Next in sequence example #2

What’s the pattern in this example?

Let’s start off by breaking down what we have. We have two, which are moving in each square. But what’s the pattern?

The first square contains a vertical line, which moves 90 degrees clockwise in the second square, and the other line moves 45 degrees clockwise. This pattern continues from there.

Or another way to think about it is; the vertical line in the first square moves clockwise one side of the square each time, pointing to the middle of the square. The line moves half a square face each time, either pointing at the middle of the square or at a corner. 

With the pattern established, we now just have to follow it to find the answer which is… B.

As with the first example, two answers are clearly wrong, in this case A and D.

C is closer to the actual answer and is there to throw you off, but it cannot be correct based on the pattern.

#2 Middle of Sequence

As the name suggests, middle of sequence questions are based on placing all five squares in order and selecting the one that comes in the middle.

The key is to find the pattern, which could be based on a number of different possibilities including;

  • Number of items increasing/decreasing
  • Rotation
  • Areas of a shape filled in with colour
  • Location within the square
  • And any combination of the above.

The key is to quickly workout the pattern but how do you do that right? Well, there is no simple formula, rather you just need to practice so your brain becomes use to recognising different patterns.

Let’s look at some examples:

What’s the pattern? The number of shapes increases from one to five. 

The middle in sequence is therefore E.

In this example, we have an increase of areas of the shape coloured in.

The answer is therefore A

#3 Complete the Pattern

These sort of questions are probably the most difficult as you have to process more information that the others two types of questions

You first have to identify where the pattern is occurring, ie, by looking across the rows and up and down the columns.

And then you have to work out what is happening between the rows/columns, such as; are the shapes rotating, reflected, increasing/decreasing etc.

Let’s look at some examples:

Lots of fun right? Let’s break it down.

Firstly, we can see the pattern is going across the rows. We can see from the top two rows, the number of shapes is increasing. In the top row, the number of shapes is; 3-6-12, so the pattern is it’s doubling between each square.

In the second row the number of shapes goes from; 1-5-25, so it’s increasing by 5x each time.

In the third row, the number of shapes is; 4-?-16. So the missing number would be 8, where each square is double each time.

Now it get’s even more fun as the possible answers are obviously trying to fool you. Answers A and D have 9 and 7 shapes leaving B and C, which each have 8. But now we have to pay attention to the background pattern which is lines. B is our answer as C has dotted circles, which is different to the bottom row squares.

One more. Again the pattern is set by looking across the rows. We see the shapes are rotating clockwise and anti-clockwise. 

In the third row, the star is rotating anti-clockwise. You can tell by looking closely at the star, you can see there are breaks in the lines. 

Between the first two stars, we see the break in the top line has rotated once from the tip to the left side. In the third star, need to look for the star which has the break in the line at the bottom left side of the star.

Looking at the answers, we have two possibilities, B & C.

Looking closer at B, we see there is an extra bit of line on the inside of the square. This rules out this answer, leaving C as the correct answer.QLD

Wanting More Abstract Practice Questions?

Trying to break down how to answer abstract reasoning questions into words is not easy, as the whole point of the exercise is visual-based. 

The QLD abstract reasoning exam becomes a whole lot easier with practice. The more practice and time you put in, the better you will become at recognising the patterns or rules of the questions.

I recommend downloading the abstract practice exams  (or source some from other websites) and go through them once or twice a week. In 3-4 weeks time, you will be recognising the patterns with ease and should be getting really high scores each time.

Good luck with the prep!

If you are still stuck on a question, drop me an email

For further QPSea Tips:
Written Assessment
Literacy Skills
Numeracy Skills