Pre-selection tests - test information

Abstract reasoning test

EPSO has been using this test since 2010. The EPSO abstract reasoning test measures understanding of “analogies”. A geometric figure is changed and the applicant has to identify the underlying logic behind the change. The aim is to recognise (repeating) patterns, draw logical conclusions, and observe details, whilst remaining aware of the arrangement as whole and, finally, staying focused under pressure. Abstract reasoning is a difficult test. It requires both logic and speed. From experience, the complexity of the questions makes it difficult to answer them all correctly within the time given.

The EPSO abstract reasoning test is a multiple-choice test. Questions in this test take the form of a series of 5 images, in a row, which contain geometric figures that are repeated or modified according to a logical sequence. Candidates have to identify the underlying logic and determine which diagram would come next in the row. There are always 5 possible answers given. You have in average one minute per question.

Only one answer is correct.
Abstract reasoning tests are language-free tests that should minimise culture-specific differences. So-called “fluid intelligence” is tested, which, according to theory, is a non-specific, primarily instinctive capacity.“Fluid intelligence” describes the ability to orientate oneself quickly in new situations, and to be able to formulate viable solutions to problems rapidly, without the need for extensive teaching. This includes, amongst other things, the ability to get an overview of a situation quickly, to separate important from unimportant things, and to detect and organise as many relationships as possible between different pieces of information.
As new studies have shown, however, the competencies outlined above can be learned and improved by training of the working memory.
To solve these questions it is important to develop a suitable individual method, which should comprise a systematic approach to analysing the figures.

The difficulty of a specific question depends on a number of different factors. The questions used by EPSO will vary in their level of difficulty within the test:

Complexity factor Analysis of EPSO test questions
1. Complexity of transformation Static: Basic elements...
  • change size (small/large)
  • change colour (white/black)
  • change position
  • swap positions with one another
  • rotate, are mirrored
2. Number of transformations taking place The transformations may be used in combination (e.g. a basic element changes colour and position in one step)
Multiple logical transformations may take place simultaneously, changes are therefore the result of more than one logic.
3. Number of basic elements comprising the geometric figure. The EPSO questions always contain a row of 5 figures. The number of basic elements varies considerably, from simple lines to different geometric shapes (triangles, circles, squares) that may be arranged freely or in rows.
4. Attractiveness of false alternatives. The possible answers are often quite similar to one another and so it is not possible to rule out the false alternatives easily. The questions are often based on 2 logics. For each of these individual logics there will be 2 (or more) possible answers. Incorrect answers cannot be ruled out until both logics have been identified.

Für die Suche nach der richtigen Lösung, ist es zudem wichtig, eine individuell abgestimmte Methode zu entwickeln, die eine systematische Herangehensweise beim Analysieren der Abbildungen beinhalten sollte.