Spatial Reasoning Tests

Spatial reasoning tests are also known as logical or abstract reasoning tests.

  • What Are Spatial Reasoning Tests?

    Spatial reasoning tests assess a candidate’s ability to visualise shapes and view these in different dimensions to identify patterns or sequences between the shapes.

    The assessments are timed, multiple-choice tests where candidates need to use their spatial reasoning ability to determine which shape follows next in the pattern.

    Spatial reasoning tests are an important part of the recruitment process for many roles within the armed forces. The ability to view objects from different perspectives is required for many roles, especially those in an engineering or technical field.


  • What Types of Questions are on Spatial Reasoning Tests?

    Spatial reasoning tests assess a candidate's ability to look at a shape, visualise and interpret shapes in their 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional form. The types of questions included in a spatial reasoning test can consist of:

    • Transforming shapes
    • Shape matching
    • Mirror images
    • Shape rotations
    • Maps
    • Block counting
    • Assemble/disassemble

    Transforming shapes

    These questions focus on the transformation of 2D shape nets into 3D shapes. Information is presented in the form of a 2D cube or cuboid net. Each side of the 2D cube net includes a colour or pattern. Candidates need to determine what each side of the 2D cube net will look like when folded to make the 3D cube, then select the correct answer from multiple-choice answers given.

    Shape matching

    Often known as pairs, information is provided in the form of groups of shapes. Candidates need to decide which groups of shapes match. To determine the correct answers, you need to consider the rotation of the shapes and the different shape layouts.

    Mirror images

    Mirror image questions require candidates to visualise the mirror images of 2 and 3D objects and then select which of the multiple-choice answers is correct. While these questions may initially seem straightforward, it is essential to take your time before selecting your answer.

    Shape rotations

    As the name suggests, questions are presented as shapes requiring candidates to use their spatial awareness to mentally rotate objects. Then to select which of the multiple-choice answers represents the correctly rotated shape.

    Questions are made challenging as many of the shapes will include dots or markers on one or more sides. The correct answer will be the shape that has been rotated to include the correct placement of the dot or marker.


    Some spatial reasoning tests include map-based questions. Information is given in the form of a map or a 2D plan. Candidates need to follow instructions to successfully navigate using the information provided.

    Block counting

    Block counting questions require candidates to determine how many blocks make up a given cube. The questions are made challenging as not all of the blocks will be visible in the cube. Candidates need to visualise and manipulate the blocks that aren't visible to determine the correct number, being mindful of the object's properties.


    These questions draw on a candidate's ability to mentally take apart and reassemble 2D and 3D objects. Information is given as a collection of 2D shapes. Through manipulating the shapes, candidates need to select which of the images represents the correct shape once the parts are assembled.

    Reverse questions can also be asked where candidates need to look at a 3D object, then pick which group of 2D shapes given as multiple choice answers represents the object when disassembled.

  • How are Spatial Reasoning Tests Formatted?

    Spatial reasoning tests are multiple-choice tests. Questions are presented in the form of one or more images of 2D or 3D shapes along with a text-based question.

    Depending on the type of question, the multiple-choice answers are also presented as images of 2D and 3D shapes, with candidates choosing which of the images is correct.

    The basis of a spatial reasoning test is to assess a candidate's ability to mentally visualise and manipulate shapes to make logical conclusions from patterns identified.

    The format of the questions enables candidates to focus on the shapes presented. Still, it is important to read any accompanying text to ensure you are clear on what the question is asking.

  • Why are Spatial Reasoning Tests Used by the Armed Forces?

    Spatial reasoning tests are an important part of the recruitment process for many roles in the armed forces. These tests assess a candidate's spatial awareness and identify abilities that can not be evaluated through an interview alone.

    The tests are timed tests that also assess how well candidates can cope under pressure, solve problems and make logical deductions using non-verbal information. These are sought-after abilities in many roles where speed, accuracy, and a strong awareness of objects and space are essential.

  • What Armed Forces use Spatial Reasoning Tests In Their Recruitment?

    Spatial reasoning tests are used in the recruitment and selection process for many roles within the armed forces.

    The Royal Navy includes spatial reasoning questions as part of the reasoning test that all applicants are required to complete. Questions are typically transformation, rotation, and mirror image-based questions.

    Spatial reasoning questions are also included in the recruitment process for the Royal Air Force. In this assessment, the test is split into two parts and focuses on visualising and manipulating 2D and 3D shapes.

    Questions that assess a candidate's spatial reasoning are also included in the British Army recruitment test battery. These questions focus on shape rotation and matching.

  • How To Prepare and Pass Your Spatial Reasoning Test

    Spatial reasoning tests may at first seem overwhelming, but there are many things that you can do to help you perform at your best.

    1. Practice

    The most beneficial way to prepare for any spatial reasoning test is to practice. This means taking as many practice tests as possible to become familiar with the different types of questions and how you go about answering them.

    2. Simulate test conditions

    When practicing tests, it is essential to practice under timed conditions. A crucial part of a spatial reasoning test is the ability to determine the correct answer quickly but accurately. Practicing the tests under timed conditions means that you simulate the time pressure you will feel in the actual test and how you react under this time pressure. If you panic you can then use tools to keep you calm when taking the test so that you focus on the questions.

    3. Familiarise yourself with the different types of spatial reasoning questions

    When practicing, make sure you have completed all of the different types of spatial awareness questions. Each question type requires a different way of visualising and mentally manipulating the shapes into 3D objects.

    By practicing each question type, you can then identify the question types you are weaker at, giving you time to work on these and increase your confidence before taking the test.

    4. Work on your spatial awareness ability

    Before taking the test, work on your natural spatial awareness through visualising and drawing 3D objects. This could include building any flatpack furniture or making up model 3D kits. Getting your brain into the mode of viewing objects in 3D will help you when it comes to looking at and answering spatial awareness questions.

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Spatial Reasoning Tests FAQs

What is spatial reasoning good for?

Spatial reasoning is good for many roles that require us to be aware of the space and objects around us. Examples of roles where spatial awareness is essential includes engineering, mechanics, or technical-based roles.

How are spatial reasoning tests scored?

Spatial reasoning tests are scored dependent on an employer's criteria. This could be an overall score or an overall percentile score that candidates are given based on the number of questions they have answered correctly.

What are examples of spatial reasoning?

Examples of spatial reasoning include:

Visualising and mentally rotating objects in your head to give a different perspective

Understanding how many objects will fit into a given space

An example of a practical day-to-day activity where spatial reasoning is required is sorting out a cupboard and determining whether all of the objects to go in the cupboard will fit.

What jobs require spatial reasoning?

Many jobs require candidates to demonstrate spatial reasoning; these include architects, air traffic controllers, engineers, mechanics, and roles within construction.

These roles require some degree of mental visualisation of objects or shapes to effectively and successfully carry out the main elements of the role.