The Complete Guide for Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices

Home > Test Providers > The Complete Guide for Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices

A highly challanging test that uses progressively difficult abstract reasoning patterns.

The Raven APM (Advanced Progressive Matrices Test) is a highly challenging abstract reasoning test. Considered as one of the best tools for assessing fluid intelligence and designed for the top 20% of the population, it is commonly used for screening managers and other top-notch jobs.

In the following guide you will find everything on the Raven Matrices Test, including a full overview, a free practice test, tips for success, and prep recommendations.

Have a question on the Raven Matrices Test? Contact Us!

What Is Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices Test?

Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices test (APM) is an abstract reasoning test assessing thinking ability and observation skills.

The test, administered by Pearson TalentLens, contains 23 matrices questions to be solved in 40 minutes. These questions increase in difficulty throughout the test – hence the name ‘progressive matrices’.

Note: An older version of the test contained 36 questions, yet the most up-to-date version of the test is the 23-question one.

Test Structure and Question Format

All 23 questions on the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test are structured in the same manner:

You will be presented with a 3×3 matrix, with one missing shape. On each question you need to find the shape that completes the pattern.

Below is a VERY simple example.

In the Practice section you can find a variety of sample questions in varying difficulties.

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 5.

The pattern across the columns (left-to-right) is rotation (90 degrees).

The pattern down the rows (top-to-bottom) is progression (adding one line on each step).

Here are some things to note in Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test questions:

The missing shape will be on the bottom right corner.

Each question has 8 answer options.

Unlike other matrices tests, in the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test, patterns will always go across BOTH rows and columns.

The Raven test uses 5 fundamental patterns. Understanding them is crucial for proper practice and success, so we cover those further down the page.

The “section slice” on that corner is a unique design of the Raven APM test.

Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test Preparation

Full Disclosure: We are affiliated with JobTestPrep. Clicking the links helps us provide you with high-quality, ad-free content.

Raven APM Test Interface

You will be allowed 4 practice questions (with explanations) before the actual test.

You may move back and forth between questions.

The 5 Patterns of Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices

The objects on the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test usually follow one or more of 5 basic change patterns.

Becoming familiar with these patterns will allow you to break any problem to smaller, simpler steps, making it much easier to identify the pattern and solve the problem.

Here are the 5 fundamental patterns:

Rotation

In the rotation pattern, objects across the rows or columns rotate in a certain pattern. This pattern may be constant (e.g. 90 degrees) or changing (e.g. 45, 90, 135 degrees, etc.).

Progression

The progression pattern is a rather broad definition for a change in object that is not self-evident. This pattern requires most experience and practice to recognize, since it is so versatile.

Examples may be:

Number of shapes’ sides

Number of visible elements

Coloring

And more

Construction

The construction pattern, which in the language of the Raven APM test is named “combination” is a construction of two objects in the row or column under certain rules to create the third.

Motion

In the motion pattern, objects change position based on certain rules.

Frequency

Finally, the frequency pattern can be only understood from looking at the entire row or column (or even at the entire matrix), and not from the change between individual objects. It basically sets certain constraints on the order and frequency of the appearance of the objects.

What Does the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test Measure?

While the Raven APM test is considered one of the best tools to assess fluid intelligence in general, it is specifically designed to measure two main aspects of cognitive ability (resource):

Eductive ability – drawing conclusions from “chaos” and handle complexity.

Reproductive ability – absorbing and recalling information.

The Raven APM is the more challenging version of Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices Test. Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices (CPM) is the simpler version of the standard test.

Here is a 10-question, free Raven APM sample test. As on the actual assessment, the questions become increasingly challenging. Set aside around 15 minutes for this test.

All questions are accompanied by detailed explanations.

Questions increase in difficulty.

Each question will teach you a new Raven test rule.

Good luck!

Question 1

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 5.

The pattern across the columns (left-to-right) is rotation (90 degrees).

The pattern down the rows (top-to-bottom) is progression (adding one line on each step).

Question 2

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 4.

This question is rather similar to question 1, but a bit more advanced:

The pattern across the columns (left-to-right) is rotation (90 degrees counterclockwise).

The pattern down the rows (top-to-bottom) is progression (adding one side to the shape in each step). Circles are considered to have one side only.

Note that the answer can be deduced by only looking at the rows or the columns. However, in more advanced questions, that is not always the case.

Question 3

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 2.

The pattern across the columns (left-to-right) is motion (in each step, a different quarter of the circle is colored).

The pattern down the rows (top-to-bottom) is progression (in each step, an additional quarter of the circle is colored).

Here things are starting to get a bit trickier – the pattern isn’t that obvious.

The pattern across both the lines and the rows is a simple construction pattern (the shape in the third cell is a combination of the two previous shapes).

As you can see, the same rule can apply to both columns and rows.

Question 5

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 6.

This question adds another complication that is very common in Raven matrices questions – a separation of rules.

This means that different parts of the shape follow different rules.

Across the columns (left-to-right):

The geometric shapes follow the progression pattern we’ve seen in question 2 (adding one side to the shape in each step).

The dots follow the motion pattern (in each step, the dots move up).

Down the rows (top-to-bottom), the dots follow the progression pattern, in which one dot is added on each step.

So, as you can see, different parts of the shapes in the Raven APM test might follow similar rules or different rules.

Question 6

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 3.

This question uses the same trick as the question above, in which different parts of the same shape follow different rules.

Across the columns (left-to-right) – the colored part of the rectangle follows the motion pattern and moves one step to the right. The arrow’s movement is independent of the columns.

Down the rows (top-to-bottom) – the arrow follows the rotation pattern, rotating 90 degrees counterclockwise in each step.

When the arrow is horizontal, it is hidden behind the rectangle and is therefore invisible. That is a rather common trope in abstract reasoning questions.

Question 7

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 8.

The pattern across the columns (left-to-right) is coloring progression (color becomes darker on each step).

The pattern down the rows (top-to-bottom) is numberprogression (adding one circle on each step).

This question uses two distractors for extra challenge:

The inclination of the circles is random.

The dot in the middle circle is a constant rule that applies to all shapes.

The Raven APM test may incorporate random or constant rules to create an information overload and distract you from the correct answer.

This question also complicates the standard construction pattern by splitting it into two:

Across the columns (left-to-right) – only the dots follow the construction pattern.

Down the rows (top-to-bottom) – only the geometric shapes follow the construction pattern.

That means that the final answer should have one dot in the center (a construction of the dots in both cells to the left), and a rectangle with a cross in the middle (a construction of the shapes in both cells above). The only answer that follows these rules is 1.

Question 9

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 8.

This question uses the construction pattern and turns it on its head – only what is not shared by the last previous shapes will be presented. That rule is often referred to as a XOR rule (Exclusive OR).

That pattern follows both the columns and the rows.

Therefore, the answer should have no dot, and both the horizontal lines and the diagonal one.

The XOR pattern is often used in the more advanced questions of the Raven APM test.

Question 10

Answer and Explanation

The correct answer is 5.

This question has actually been discussed online quite extensively, from the US to South Korea.

Here’s my take on this question:

This question uses information overload to confuse and distract you.

Three types of elements – thin lines, thick lines, and crescents.

Element either horizontal or vertical.

The number of elements per shape – 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.

However, from this abundance of information, two notable frequency patterns can be seen:

Each row contains 6 vertical elements and 6 horizontal elements.

Each column contains 4 appearances of each element type (crescent, thin line, or thick line).

Therefore, the answer should have:

3 horizontal elements and 2 vertical ones.

3 thick lines and 2 thin lines.

The only answer that follows these rules is 5.

Preparation for the Raven Matrices Test

In this section, we will cover why you should prepare for your Raven Matrices test, and recommend the best preparation plan, in our view (and why).

Why You SHOULD Prepare for Your Raven APM Test

Here are 3 good reasons to prepare for the Raven Matrices Test:

Becoming Familiar

When preparing with tasks similar to those on the actual Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test, you gain several benefits.

You get to know common matrix patterns and can identify them better and faster on the actual test.

You reduce anxiety by coping with an exact replica of what’s ahead.

It Actually Works

The literature on the Raven APM test is quite extensive, and the effect of practice on success has been thoroughly examined.

A study conducted on 67 test-takers found that reflective learning (the ability to look at past experience and analyze events accordingly) is the major effect practice has on success in the Raven APM test (resource). Another study found that with proper preparation, that effect can remain for as long as 4 months after practice (resource).

Scores Are Rising

The average score of the Raven Matrices Test is steadily growing. A score that would put a candidate on the 95^{th} percentile back in the 1960s was considered only average thirty years later (resource).

That means that in order to keep up with the competition, you need the absolute highest possible score – not to mention outperforming the competition.

Here’s why we believe JTP’s prep course is your best option. All screenshots are taken from the actual preparation pack.

Full Disclosure: We are affiliated with JobTestPrep. Clicking the links helps us provide you with high-quality, ad-free content.

Accurate, Interactive Practice Tests

Each practice test on JobTestPrep’s Raven prep course follows the actual Raven APM test in terms of time limit, level of difficulty, number of questions, and formatting.

The authenticity of preparation goes down into the finest details, such as the number of answer options and the design of questions.

Interactive Score Reports

Your score reports will show you how you compare with test standards, and how you can improve.

Detailed Answers and Explanations to All Questions

Every question is accompanied by a detailed explanation you can learn from, improving your performance from one test to the next.

On top of the interactive practice, JobTestPrep offers a 21-page PDF study guide to enhance your theoretical understanding of the test and its underlying principles.

High Volume of Practice

With 5 mock tests, a comprehensive study guide, and 7 additional practice tests focusing on 3×3 matrices, JobTestPrep offers the highest prep volume currently available online.

According to Pearson TalentLens, the Raven APM test provider, the test is scored based on three factors (resource):

The number of correct responses

The difficulty of questions answered

The differentiation of questions answered

The initial score range is set between -4.000 and +4.000. That score, also referred to as “raw score” is then interpreted to a percentile score, comparing your performance to other test-takers in your norm group (see more on norm groups below).

What Is a Good Score on the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test?

In short: no one can tell. Further below I’ll add some examples for average test scores, but these can by no means be regarded as a definite answer.

Why?

Firstly, since the Raven APM is scored based not only the number of correct responses, but on the difficulty of the questions, there is really no way to deduce from a number of correct answers to a score.

Furthermore, a good score depends not only on other candidates, but the job you apply to. Managers, for instance, will be required to score higher than the general population to receive the same score on the Raven test.

What Is the Average Score on the Raven APM Test?

As I mentioned, it is very hard to determine an average score based solely on your number of correct answers. However, as promised, here are some examples for average scores on the Raven APM test:

This sample report shows a manager’s average score (51^{st} percentile) with 11/23 answers correct.

Another sample report shows a 55^{th} percentile score with 13/23 answers correct.

The older, 36-question version of the test was taken by over 500 students, whose average score was around 22/36 answers correct (resource).

All of these give you a sense of what an average score generally means, but are by no means definite.

What Are Norm Groups?

As is often the case with tests used to assess high-profile positions like managers and executives, your percentile score on the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test is determined based on other candidates’ scores in the position you apply to.

So, for instance, a very high score on the general population norm group will probably be only average on the graduate or executive norm groups.

As such, you absolutely must maximize your performance on the Raven APM test if you are after a top-notch job.

Raven Matrices Tips

Considering all the unique features of the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test, here are 6 tips for acing it:

Tip #1 – Take Your Time

Time is not a scoring factor in the Raven APM test, so make use of all the time at your disposal. However, you definitely should know where to put more and less time, and the next tip will tell you how.

Tip #2 – Save the Best for Last

The Raven APM Test is progressive, namely – the questions become increasingly more challenging as the test progresses. The more advanced questions you solve, the higher your our score will be, so question 23 is worth more than question 1.

So, in short, solve the first questions quickly to leave more time to those in the end.

Tip #3 – Separate Rows and Columns

The patterns of the Raven Matrices test go across both lines and columns. As such, it is often helpful to look at those as two separate tasks, instead of at the matrix as a whole.

Working with the 5 fundamental patterns in mind is also beneficial for that aim, which leads us to tip #4.

Tip #4 – Learn and Use the 5 Fundamental Patterns

Using the 5 fundamental patterns to solve Raven questions will allow you to further dissect the questions, and better understand the relationship between shapes.

Tip #5 – Skip Questions If You Need, But Write Them Down and Pick an Answer

Skip questions – The test allows you to do it, so don’t get stuck on any particular question.

Write them down – The test does not allow you to mark questions for later review. So, write down any questions you want to go back to later.

Pick an answer – All too often, test-takers will become so stressed near the end of the test, that they will forget going back and reviewing unanswered questions. Since the test does not reduce points for wrong answers, always mark some answer when skipping a question, even if you intend to go back to it later.

Tip #6 – Practice. A Lot

Abstract reasoning is an area of cognitive ability where practice can be most valuable. The more you experience a variety of patterns and problems, the better and faster you will recognize them on the actual test.

The Raven APM is often taken together with the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI). You can read about the HPI test on our sister website, personality-test-prep.com.

Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices Test Preparation