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Spatial Awareness

Video Guide

Practice Questions

Written Guide

Spatial Reasoning is a common component of Abstract Reasoning in psychometric testing. These questions are presented in two formats:

  • Conforming Figure: In these questions, you are required to identify which of the four given answer figures DOES share a common feature with the two given question figures.

  • Outlying Figure: In these questions, you are required to identify which of the four given answer figures DOES NOT share a common feature with the two given question figures.

This question format might not be one which you encounter regularly in your day-to-day activities, but it is likely that you have experienced something similar in your childhood – spot the difference puzzles are based on many of the same principles as the spatial awareness problems posed in this test.

Let’s take a look at an example:

Question: The two unlabeled figures share a common feature. One of the answer figures does NOT share this same feature. Which figure does NOT share the common feature?

Answer: A. In each figure, there is a main shape containing a line segment. All lines are aligned with one side of the same shape, close to the boundary, except for in one figure. In A, the line segment is in the middle of the shape and aligned to no sides of the shape.

In this manner of question, there are 6 key attributes to observe in the answer figures:

  • Shape: Look for different shapes in the given problem figures – while this is a simple attribute, it will often constitute the key difference between figures.

  • Position: Look for the position and placement of individual elements in the given problem figures.

  • Angle: Look for differences in the direction, alignment, angle, pointing direction, etc. of different elements in the given figures.

  • Number: Look for the number of certain things in the figures – for example, the number of sides in a shape or the number of given elements in a figure may constitute the difference between figures.

  • Shading: Shading patterns in figures may constitute the difference between figures.

  • Size: Look at the size of different elements, relative to the other elements, in the given figures.

In order to solve these questions, there is a three-step approach:

As this problem type is not necessarily one which can be solved through a formulaic approach, much of the solution lies in your ability to visually identify patterns and intuitively find the solution.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s walk through another question with the approach presented above:

Question: The two unlabelled figures share a common feature. One of the answer figures does NOT share this same feature. Which figure does NOT share the common feature?

Observe

In this question, we can immediately see that the relevant element from the SPANSS categories is shape. In each figure, we can see an upper horizontal line with a certain shape below it.

Focus

In the question figures, we can see that the shapes have open bottoms, and are composed of straight lines. By comparison, we can see that three of the question figures also share this feature. Only D comes with a closed bottom and non-straight lines.

Answer

Based on what we have observed, it would seem that D is the only outlier. Therefore, we can conclude that this is the correct answer.

Answer: D

As each question comes with a very short time limit to find a solution, it is critical that you practice this question format in order to develop your intuition so that you may discern the correct response quickly and accurately- generally speaking, this question type is not particularly difficult.

If you are unable to distinguish any form of pattern within the first 6 seconds, it is advised that you make an educated guess and move on – if you cannot find the pattern quickly then it is likely that you will lose precious time which could be better-spent on other questions. To that end, follow this decision tree when faced with such a question:

As with all the question types in this test, the key is to make an effective judgement as to whether you can solve the question in good time. If you cannot find the first step towards solving the problem quickly, then you cannot afford to waste time on the question.

As stated earlier, these questions largely depend on intuition once you understand the basic principles of what to be looking out for in the figures. To that end, the most appropriate way to prepare for these questions, rather than a formulaic approach, is to practice until you are familiar with the format to such a degree that you can intuitively recognize the common features between the answer figures and problem figures. As such, there is little more to say in terms of theory on this question format – instead, ensure that you practice thoroughly by making use of the question bank available in this module in order to get a sense how these questions are formulated so that nothing will catch you by surprise in the real exam.

So that we may effectively approach this question type in the course, let’s work through some further practice questions together.

Question: The two unlabelled figures share a common feature. One of the answer figures shares this same feature. Which figure DOES share the common feature?

Observe

Based on the SPANSS categories, it would appear that the relevant dimension here is position. Each image is composed of four rectangular shapes with an arrow protruding out of one of the two longer sides.

Focus

Looking closely at the question figures, we can see that two of the four shapes contained have the same bearing, as illustrated below:

Answer

Applying this criteria to the question figures, there is only one possible option which also has two shapes of the same bearing:

Answer: C.

Question: The two unlabelled figures share a common feature. One of the answer figures does NOT share this same feature. Which figure does NOT share the common feature?

Observe

Upon initial examination, we can see that each figure contains three shapes of different sizes. As such, the SPANSS elements to observe here are shape & size.

Focus

When examining more closely, we can see that the question figures feature a large shape containing a smaller, different shape, which in turn contains a smaller version of the first large shape:

Answer

Looking at the answer figures, all but one of the figures follows this trend, figure D:

As such, we can be confident that this figure does not share the common feature.

Answer: D.

Question: The two unlabelled figures share a common feature. One of the answer figures does NOT share this same feature. Which figure does NOT share the common feature?

Observe

Each figure features four circles, each containing an arrow of various bearings. The SPANSS element to observe here is positioning.

Focus

Looking closely at the question figures, we can see that each circle contains an arrow pointing in a different direction; there is an arrow pointing up, down, left and right across the four circles.

Answer

We can see that all but one of the answer figures, this feature is maintained. The only figure which deviates is figure C:

Answer: C.

Now that we have explored a number of Spatial Awareness questions together, it would be a good idea for you to move on to the practice questions available for this module and try to solve them without any help. Apply the principles laid out in this guide, and you should have very little trouble overcoming this question type.

Just be careful that you do not get tripped up spending too much time on any individual question. If it turns out that a question is too difficult to solve in the time required, just take a guess and skip it. If you find you have time left over after completing all questions, you could always consider coming back to this question to check it – though it is very uncommon to have time to spare in this exam.

Continue practicing and before long you will be adept at answering questions of this format. Good luck!