Non-Verbal Analogies – Written Guide

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Non-Verbal Analogies are a part of the Abstract Reasoning component of various psychometric tests. In these questions, we are given a set of question figures where the first and second figures are related in a manner which must be applied to the third answer figure to discern which question figure has this same relationship to it as exists between the first and second figures.

This question type is relatively intuitive. As such, once you understand the core principles of how to approach such a question the best method for preparation is to practice. In time, the manner in which the analogies are composed will become clear and you will be able to identify the answer to these questions far more quickly.

As the time limit in the test is extremely tight, it is important that you learn to approach these questions quickly and understand the decision process behind figuring out whether it is worth spending the time on a question or not. As many psychometric tests come with a very restrictive time limit so as to test your performance under pressure, it is often desirable to skip the harder questions in favor of spending that time on other, more approachable questions. A majority of psychometric tests come with an average score which is well below the maximum possible score, so through proper prioritization of questions you can manage your time efficiently and maximize your score.

As these questions are entirely visual, it’s of little use to discuss them in theory: let’s take a look at an example for some hands-on experience.


Upon initial inspection, it may seem that this question contains a mess of figures which would take more time than is allowed to untangle, but with the correct mindset you can easily find the correct answer.

First, let’s take a close look at the first two question figures:

As we can seem there are two movements in this transition; one of the circle moving 90° anti-clockwise, one of the curved line moving 90° clockwise. We can see this below:

Now that we have identified the movement made between the first two answer figures, let’s examine the third answer figure to identify similarities.

It would appear that the bearing of the first image is the same; there is a line at the top with a shape beneath it. To that end, we can try applying the same process of moving the shape 90° anti-clockwise and the line 90° clockwise.

As such, we have our answer:

Answer: C

As we have explored, the key here is to find the movements in the first transition and apply them to the third figure to find our answer. In order to do this consistently, follow these steps and try to integrate them into your thought process with these questions:

Now that we have a process to follow, let’s try applying it to another example:


Visually, this question looks quite a bit more complicated than the previous one. However, the same principles apply and we can find an answer quickly and effectively by following the detailed steps.


Start by observing the movement of the components within the figure. Upon inspection it is evident that each item is moving one step clockwise, as seen below:


Now that we see how the first transition occurs, we isolate the means by which the transition occurs. Here, it is evident that moving one step clockwise for each shape in the question figure is the correct transition.


In order to be sure that we have the correct course of action, we compare the third question figure with the first question figure to ensure that the format is comparable in terms of applying the same transition:

As we can see, the icons are different but they are of the same amount and position.


Now that we have isolated the transition and can see that the first and third figures are comparable, let’s apply the transition to the third figure to find our answer:

As such, we have found our answer:

Answer: B

As we can see, the four-step approach we have laid out is a foolproof manner in which to reach a conclusion, and as the problem is a visual one it is a process which can be carried out quickly with little to no pen-and-paper working.

One thing to look out for in this question type is that some questions will include red herrings intended to distract you from the actual means of transition. In the question we just solved, this is seen in the coloration of the components in the image. One runs the risk of wasting time examining whether the question involves a transition in color, so it is important to maintain your clarity of thought when looking at these images to determine whether the colors really changed, or if it remains that the same components are colored after being moved. Certain elements of the figures may be designed to obfuscate the movement and visually confuse you, so it is vital not to be distracted by this issue where possible.

If questions appear to be too complicated to determine the transition between the first two question figures in the first 5 seconds, it is advised that you guess and move on to the next question - it is far better to have a 25% chance of random success on the question than it is to spend too long on it and lose points from other, easier, questions which you did not have time to answer.

Using the methodology described in this guide, you should continue to complete the practice questions so that you can get a feel for the manner in which these questions are administered. With practice, you will be able to solve a majority of these questions quickly and accurately, getting you closer to a strong score.