Can You Fail an Inductive Reasoning Test? 6 Tips to Survive

There is no official standard of which score should be the “passing score” of the inductive test, so you can not technically fail the inductive reasoning test. However, you might be a good performer and an underperformer on the test.

This article will discuss how candidates are assessed in the inductive reasoning test, common mistakes, and tips to enhance your inductive reasoning test scores. 

How will you be assessed in the inductive reasoning test?

In inductive reasoning tests, you will be assessed based on the percentile scoring system. This system compares your actual scores to other candiđates’ scores, then calculate how many percent of the total people who have taken the test you score higher than.

For example, receiving a 75% percentile score means your score is higher than 75% of all candidates who have done the test.

The company will usually work with the test publisher to decide the benchmark. The test providers then use their database of norm groups (those who have taken inductive reasoning tests before or are currently taking the test with you) to suggest benchmarks for applicants. There can be norm groups based on job levels, such as graduates and seniors, or types of positions.

Each percentile range interprets a different level of competence. The interpretation of scores varies from company requirements and test providers. Here is an example of the benchmark from SHL, one of the prominent recruitment test providers.

The “passing percentile” is not a fixed number - this depends on the number of candidates applying for the positions, the number of open positions, and the performance of the norm group used to compare your score.

Typically, the safe percentile group is in the 80% percentiles and higher because companies look for the very best quality candidates. This score means you will have fierce competition to get in the highest percentile group, especially when many candidates are applying for the same position.

KEY TAKEAWAY: The 80% percentile is a competitive score to achieve. Without proper preparation and sound strategies, the possibility of passing the inductive reasoning test is highly uncertain.


What if I fail the inductive reasoning test?

You need more practice

The most common reason for one candidate to underperform in their inductive reasoning test is the lack of practice. If you don’t familiarize yourself with the test enough to know the test format, question types, and logic of the questions or to recognize the pattern fast enough in the actual test, you will be unlikely to get into the safe percentile group to be considered by the employers.

You need better strategies

Without proper strategies, it is challenging for you to ace the Inductive Test and be in the highest percentile group. The methods that help you with the test include mastering the underlying logic of the abstract patterns, recognizing superfluous information and misleading answer options, and practicing managing the time in the test. 

You may perform decently in the Inductive Test but not in the others

Most of the time, employers would assess your performance holistically based on all test results (numerical test, verbal test, inductive test, personality test). You may do it good in one inductive reasoning test. However, perhaps you still haven’t achieved the needed scores in the Numerical or Verbal Test, or your Personality Test returns the result that your working style does not fit the company’s culture.

For the cognitive test (Numerical, Verbal, Logical), you can certainly work on more practice to improve your scores and familiarity with the test.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Many employers will provide you with the test results right after or a few days after you have taken the test. You should utilize the test report to identify which parts of the Psychometric Test you need to improve.


6 tips for surviving in the inductive reasoning test 

Inductive reasoning test is not an easy one to master for its unpredictable pattern. But with proper and guided practice, you will be able to successfully ace the test. There are a few tips we recommend to you while preparing for the inductive reasoning test. These tips include

  • Tip 1: Research your test
  • Tip 2: Understand question logic in your practice
  • Tip 3: Don’t spend too much time on one question
  • Tip 4: Eliminate distractors
  • Tip 5: Solve one pattern at a time
  • Tip 6: Stay calm

Do research test providers and test types

You need to understand what you will deal with in the actual test. You need to understand who your enemies are before going to the battlefield. Some simple methods to do quick research include online searching, asking on a public forum such as Quora or Reddit, or consulting an ex-candidate of the company you are applying for.

Here is the question checklist you can use to research your test

  • Is it a traditional test of multiple-choice questions, or is it gamified/interactive?
  • What are the common question formats?
  • Is it a timed or untimed test? What is the time limit?
  • Can you come back for a skipped question or not?

Note: Many companies use inductive reasoning test from some popular test providers such as SHL, Talent Q - Korn Ferry. Criterion CCAT. Test Partnership. Sova, Aon, etc. You can start your research from these test publishers.

Practice with an in-depth understanding of the pattern logic

Your practice will only be efficient if you can grasp the basic logic of the pattern to apply in different situations. Inductive reasoning questions often have typical types of logic behind them. It is advisable to figure out the pattern logic in your practice so that in the actual test, you can notice the underlying logic of whichever pattern the question presents.

Let’s take a look at the two examples that shares the same underlying logic

Example 1

Source: Test Partnership

Correct answer: B


Elements: There are two elements: table tennis bats and black dots.

Rules: There are two rules: alternation and quantifiers.

  • The size of table tennis bats alternates between large and small each time.
  • The number of black dots is in the sequence of 1, 2, 3, 4, and then repeat.

So the following figure must have a small bat and two black dots.

Example 2

Source: Test Partnership

Correct answer: B


Elements: There is one element: edges.

Rules: There are two rules: alternation and quantifiers.

  • The number of bold edges alternates between two and one each time.
  • The number of edges decreases by one each time.

So the following figure must have one bold edge.

Don’t spend too much time on one question

In timed tests and those tests where you can not revise a question once you have skipped it, you would like to keep the highest accuracy for your answer. However, you can only gain a high percentile score if you can get through all the questions. You can temporarily skip the question if the test allows you to get back to the question later. Otherwise, make an educated guess by eliminating the false options and choose the option that fits most of the pattern you see.

Avoid distractors in the question

The test makers will try to make it harder for you by creating a pattern with potential distracting logic or irrelevant information in the questions and answer option. Here are some ways to avoid being deceived by the distractors in the questions:

  • Eliminate the false options - by doing this, you could reduce the number of distractors while answering the question.
  • Check for question-options consistency - ensure all the elements between the question and your choice consistently follow the same rules.
  • Check the remaining answer options for the logic to ensure your answer is the most correct.

Source: SHL


Elements: There are four elements: square, circle, triangle, and heart.

Rules: There is one rule: movement.

  • In each row, elements in the first and second figures move together to form the third figure. The element in the second figure changes color to black after moving.
  • Elements in the third column are distractors.

So the following figure must have a black triangle and a white square.

Note: You can practice using all the above techniques; however, it could be stressful in the actual test. So you can prioritize eliminating the false answer option as a critical strategy to help you choose the correct answer.

Only solve one pattern at once

One thing you should remember is to focus on one pattern of the set at a time to avoid being distracted by the rest of the pattern group. This approach can improve your success rate since you may get confused when there are too many shapes to look at.

In addition, you should start with the easiest-to-spot patterns first. It may not be the number of shapes but the number of colors, lines, angles, or touching sides. This technique will help you to stay focused and figure out the logic of that pattern. 

Stay calm while taking the test

With the time limit of the test (for most test providers, you typically only have around 70 seconds per question!), you can quickly get panicky and lose focus. Take a deep breath and remember that you have practiced and prepared hard enough for this test to get closer to your desired job.

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