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CFAT Spatial Ability Test

Ryan Green
Ryan Green January 04, 2023
CFAT Spatial Ability Test

What is the CFAT Spatial Ability Test?

The CFAT Spatial Ability Test is used to measure your ability to understand and manipulate objects in two-dimensional and three-dimensional space to arrive at a logical answer. It is part of the recruitment process within the Canadian Forces where candidates must pass a series of assessments.

Although seemingly abstract, the Spatial Ability Test demonstrates valuable thinking skills, which are essential in many roles in the Canadian Forces.

The format of the CFAT Spatial Ability Test

The Spatial Ability Test consists of 15 questions, which you will have ten minutes to complete. This means you have around 40 seconds per question.

The questions are presented in a multiple-choice format, so you will have to select the correct answer out of A, B, C or D.

The test consists of two types of questions:

The first type of question requires you to look at three-dimensional shapes and then choose, from a selection of possible answers, which two-dimensional shape was the origin of the 3D shape you're looking at. In other words, you must mentally unfold the 3D shape.

Once you've worked your way through these questions you'll be asked to move onto the second section. Here, you'll have to do the exact opposite and look at a choice of two-dimensional shapes to find its 3D counterpart. Essentially you need to visualize what the 2D shape pattern would look like if it were folded up.

Some questions have patterns on the 2D shape pattern or 3D shape form. These questions are more challenging, since they require you to mentally work out how each side will look once it has folded or unfolded.

How is the CFAT Spatial Ability Test scored?

Your score in the Spatial Ability Test is calculated by the number of questions you answer correctly in the 10-minute time limit. The score you receive on the CFAT as a whole is used to determine your suitability for various careers in the armed forces, based on your skills and abilities.

The scores required for each career are not made public. However, a higher result on the CFAT will open up more opportunities to you.

You will not be deducted marks for incorrect answers, so it's worthwhile guessing if you don't know the answer.

Top tips for success in the CFAT Spatial Ability Test


It may sound obvious, but it truly is the best way to prepare yourself. Taking sample tests will sharpen your spatial awareness skills, whilst also helping to familiarize you with the structure and format of the test. If possible, take the practice tests in a quiet room free from distractions, and under timed conditions.

Think laterally when practicing

Taking sample tests is not the only way you can practice. Have a go at building 3D paper shapes from 2D shape nets; this can help build your understanding of how they are constructed and fit together.

Don't dwell on tricky questions

If you come across a difficult question, don't use up a lot of your time trying to figure it out, as you may run out of time for later questions. Instead, move onto the next question, and come back to it at the end if you have time.

Use a method of elimination

If you don't know the answer to a question, try to eliminate the obvious incorrect answers, and focus on the remaining answers. This will save you time and will increase the likelihood of you selecting the correct answer.

Remember your goal

Reminding yourself why you are taking this test, and the importance it can have on your career can really help motivate you when you are preparing for it. Remember, the score you get on the CFAT will determine which career you are eligible for, so try as hard as possible – it'll be worth it in the end.

Check out our full CFAT assessment page here.

Ryan Green January 04, 2023

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