any abstract reasoning or space relations test tips?
March 25, 2021 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I'll be taking a timed series of tests regarding space relations (visualizing/rotating 3D objects) and abstract reasoning (those unfun pattern logic puzzles) and I'm a bit discouraged by the practice tests I've been doing. I know I'm smart, but I don't find visual cues as "grippy" or "sticky" as others seem to - especially in black and white. To compensate, I'm trying to write out strategies for problem solving, and looking for tips/tricks from folks who passed these tests or are otherwise good at these sorts of challenges

So far I have:

Labelling diagrams, highlighting if highlighters are permitted
going slowly and reading directions carefully (highlighting or underlining important parts of the question)
double checking details as well as the details' location on figures. (Different practice tests have given me different levels of fussiness here, so I'm a little cautious!)

Also accepting good vibes :) thanks y'all!
posted by snerson to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Good vibes sent.

As for the test, I have found if you over think it, the time element of the test becomes an issue and that causes more panic. I have also found that when doing the pattern recognition, if I cannot find the pattern right away, I start to overcomplicate it. Don't. Move on. Most patterns are not overly complicated. For example, when given (the now common) O, T, T, F, F and asked to give the next letter, I spent a lot of time counting the letters of the alphabet until I had the "aha" moment. The next two letters are S, S. (One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven...) If you cannot find the pattern pretty quickly come back to it. Go to the next one. Too much time on any one pattern will affect your score if you cannot get to all of the remaining patterns.

Btw, these tests have nothing to do with being smart. I hired traders. I gave them a few short tests like this as trading is a lot about pattern recognition. I have seen people with IQs above 140 fail these and people with no HS diploma do well on them. Some people do well on these and some people do well on other types of tests. If the test is about getting hired for a job, not doing well is ok. You probably would be miserable in the job if you got hired but were not good at this.

Some people just have a knack for it. I worked in a warehouse that shipped out about two 18 wheelers worth of pallets (about 50 pallets) a day. There were a few workers who could not figure out how to use the postage machine but could stack varied size items on a pallet such that it was exactly the max height. They could do it as well or better than the pallet software we had. Just the way some brains are wired. Not smart or dumb or good or bad. Just is.
posted by AugustWest at 8:00 PM on March 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

I'm pretty good at spatial reasoning.

Do you do that thing when you're reading where if a character's facial expression is described you make that same facial expression yourself? That is how these problems present to me. I'll hold the imaginary object in my hand and rotate it, move my head around it, look at it from different angles. If it's a polygon or something I see myself putting a finger on every side, or unfolding it. I physically make the gestures. I'm sure I look nuts to an outside observer, but it works for me. I have to live it.

One thing that is key for me is that it's the only thing I can be doing. If I'm parallel parking, the radio gets turned down. If I'm watching a youtube video or something of a person making a pattern for a garment or a miniature, I pause the video and visualize putting the pieces together with my own hands. If I don't bring the problem into my own physical (imagined) space to manipulate with my own hands without distraction, then it doesn't become real.

And like AugustWest says, if you're not good at this kind of thing it doesn't mean you're dumb. Plenty of people just can't visualize. Different brains are wired different. I had 12 years of academic Spanish language instruction growing up and I've spent the last decade of my adulthood living in neighborhoods where people speak Spanish first, and I will never be able to speak Spanish. There is just something about spoken languages my brain cannot do. But I can parallel park my car in spaces no more than 6" longer than my car, so ¯\(°_o)/¯
posted by phunniemee at 8:29 PM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you can draw it out, maybe you can visualize it better. Not all people can visualize everything in their mind.
posted by kschang at 12:42 AM on March 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Plenty of people just can't visualize.

I'm one of them. But I'm good at the 3D spatial transformation of diagrams thing, because what I can do is spatialize and tactualize.

But to the point: the way to think about practice tests is less as tests and more as practice. You shouldn't pay any attention at all to the overall score of any practice test. What you should do indeed is identify the particular test problems that gave you difficulty, or which gave you no difficulty getting to the wrong answer, and just do more exercises like that. Think hundreds or thousands, not tens.

For the 3D object rotation questions, pay close attention to the process you go through in order to answer them. Are you in fact making some kind of internal model of the thing sketched on the page? What kind? Can you see it, feel it, make it big, make it small, hold it in your hand, walk around it? Can you put colours on it, or stick imaginary lumps on, in order to mark its parts unambiguously? How does that process actually happen for you? If the results are vague or unstable, what happens if you spend a bit of time making actual 3D models (get some Lego!) and sketching them from various angles?

those unfun pattern logic puzzles

How well you do on this kind of test is always going to depend mainly on how much time you've spent training up for them, either accidentally because that kind of thing has luckily always been fun for you, or systematically because it hasn't.

And although this kind of problem is an absolute staple in the typical IQ test, how fast you can do this kind of thing has nothing to do with how "smart" you are, if that's even a thing. Anybody can get better at anything, given enough practice. Aptitude is mainly about how much of a slog the practice is going to feel like before we start noticing ourselves improving at a pleasing rate.
posted by flabdablet at 12:50 AM on March 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I can't visualise and rotate 3D objects. My brain doesn't seem to do movement at all, and it won't hold an static image long enough for me to really look at it either. But I'm generally pretty good at those puzzles. I compare specific details rather than trying to map the whole image.

So, if you're trying to figure out which shape is the same as the original, but rotated: pick out two identifiable features from the original and look at how they relate to each other (it has a short sticky-out bit here and a long straight sticky-out bit at right angles to it, like a capital L; or, the stripy side is next to the polka-dotted side) and immediately reject any of the answers that don't have the same thing. That often rules out all but one, and you're done. If not, pick another two identifiable features and try again.

It's possible that having spent a lot of time following origami diagrams has helped me here. ("No, this can't be right, these two points are supposed to be at right angles not 45 degrees...")
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:56 AM on March 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I do it the same way as described in the previous answer. I can ace those tests but in real life I estimate I have only average adeptness in matters spatial.
posted by dancing leaves at 5:42 AM on July 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

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