How To Do A Raven Matrices Test

This tutorial is taken directly from one of the 20 HighIQPro problem-solving strategy tutorials. In this introduction will be given the following:

  • An explanation of what matrices IQ tests are and how they are used
  • A closer look at the different types of Raven Matrices tests
  • A basic tutorial on strategies to solve Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices Test problems, with examples

The Matrices Test

A matrices test is a non-verbal ‘culture fair’ multiple choice IQ test, that measures your fluid intelligence  (Gf) – your reasoning and problem solving ability. Fluid intelligence is a core component of  g – your general intelligence.

In each test item, the subject is asked to identify the missing element that completes a pattern of shapes. The patterns are presented in the form of a 4×4, 3×3, or 2×2 matrix, giving the test its name. An example of a matrices test is shown here, from

Because of the simplicity of their use and interpretation, and their independence of language and reading and writing skills, Matrices tests have  widespread practical use  - as a measure of intelligence in the general population for both adults and children, for job applicants as a psychometric test, for applicants to the armed forces,  and for assessing clinical (e.g. Autism) populations.

Matrices Tests Measure Fluid Intelligence (Gf)

Fluid intelligence – is the ability to reason and solve problems using new information without relying on previously acquired knowledge and skills. The ability to deal with novelty, to adapt one’s thinking ‘fluidly’ to a new, unfamiliar problem.

Fluid intelligence is contrasted with crystallized intelligence which is previously acquired knowledge and skills that have become ‘crystallized’ with experience.

Matrices IQ tests measure fluid intelligence. Because there is a high correlation between fluid intelligence and general intelligence (g), matrices tests are often used as a general IQ test – for overall cognitive ability.

Raven Matrices Test

Matrices tests were originally developed by John C. Raven back in 1936. The Matrices are available in three different forms for participants of different ability:

  • Standard Progressive Matrices: These were the original form of the matrices, first published in 1938.  The 60 problems  in this test get  increasingly difficult, demanding greater cognitive capacity to solve . This test can be taken here (there is a fee on completion).
  • Coloured Progressive Matrices: Designed for children aged 5 through 11 years-of-age, the elderly, and mentally and physically impaired individuals. This test contains questions from the standard matrices, as well as other test  items.
  • Advanced Progressive Matrices (RAPM): The advanced form of the matrices test contains 48 problems.  These items are appropriate for adults and adolescents of above-average intelligence.

“Parallel” forms of the standard and coloured progressive matrices were published in 1998 – to address the problem of the Raven’s Matrices being too well known in the general population.

Cattell Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CFIT) – III

The CFIT (or ‘Cattell’) IQ test has four kinds of problems – series completion, classification, matrices and conditions. These should all be self-evident for the easier problems below. For the ‘conditions’  type problem there are different elements such as “dot”, “circle”, “square”, and a set of relationships that need to be figured out – such as “inside”, “outside”, “not”, “and”. The object is to figure out the something like “dot inside circle and outside square” (making 3 the only viable answer below).

High IQ Societies & Matrices Tests

Generally, there are two ways to prove that you qualify for Mensa: either take the Mensa test, or submit a qualifying test score from another test. There are a large number of intelligence tests that are “approved”, including the Cattell Culture Fair Test (IQ score 148).

The Triple Nine Society, a high IQ society, accepts the Advanced Progressive Matrices  for one of their admission tests. They require a score of at least 32 out of 36 on or before December 31, 1999 on the RAPM. The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) and International High IQ Society also accept the RAPM as a qualification for admission.

The Triple Nine Society is a high IQ society that uses the CFIT-III as one of their tests for admission. A combined raw score of 85 on forms A and B is required for admission; however, the TNS does not accept this score if taken after September, 2008. Also, the TNS accepts the Cattell Intelligence (verbal) test, Scale IIIB, qualifying score of 173, but again, not if taken after September, 2008

How To Use Strategies To Get A High Score On A Matrices Test

Each Raven test has the same format: a 3 x 3 matrix in which the bottom right entry is missing, and must be selected from 8 alternatives.

Solving Raven’s matrices type problems essentially requires figuring out the underlying rules that explain the progression of shapes.

Here is an example to try to figure out:

The correct answer is 5. The variations of the entries in the rows and columns of this problem can be explained by 3 rules.

1.  Each row contains 3 shapes (triangle, square, diamond).
2.  Each row has 3 bars (black, striped, clear).
3.  The orientation of each bar is the same within a row, but varies from row to row (vertical, horizontal, diagonal).

From these 3 rules, the answer can be inferred (5).

Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices Test – 5 rules for strategic problem solving

John Raven designed all the problems for his IQ tests to be based on five basic types of rule. Each problem might have combinations of different rules or different instances of the same rule.

In order to solve Raven’s Advanced matrices problems effectively, you will benefit from learning these rules,

These are the rules:

1.  Constant in a row. This is ‘rule 3’ in the matrix example above – the orientation of the bar is the same in each row, but changes down a column.

2.  Quantitative progression. An increase or decrease between adjacent entries in size, position or number. An example of this rule is shown below:


The correct answer is 3. The number of black squares in each entry increases in the top row from 1 to 2 to 3. Similarly, the number of black squares in the first column decreases from 3 to 2 to 1.

3. Figure addition or subtraction.  A figure from one column is added to or subtracted from another column to produce the third. An example is given below:

Correct answer 8

 The extended tutorial with the entire rule set is accessible  with
our HighIQPro IQ-increasing software package. This includes a link to the orginal
Progressive Raven’s Matrices test for practice & links to two
scientifically valid, standardized matrices IQ tests based on the Raven tests.

Mastering Matrices Tests: HighIQPro’s Capacity-Strategy Training

The ability to try out different rules/strategies such as those above and then keep track of them in the more complex problems requires not only knowing how to pinpoint the rules themselves but also having the working memory capacity (the processing power) to successfully apply those rules.

Capacity-Strategy IQ Mindware Brain Training

Strategy and capacity training work synergistically. The more working memory capacity you have, the better able you are to learn and apply and manage the rules and methods that help to solve matrices problems.

The HighIQPro brain-training software application is specifically designed to master Matrices tests according to  this synergistic learning method: capacity-strategy training.

What is a High IQ Score on a Matrix Reasoning Test?

Your score on a matrix reasoning test will give you a measure of your IQ level. IQ’s are distributed like a ‘bell curve’ around an average of 100.  Click here for information on what is a high IQ score. An IQ score of 130 is considered to be a ‘gifted’ IQ level – and this IQ score is Mensa standard. Click here for ‘What Is Mensa?’ – and Mensa requirements.

What is Mensa? Click

This article was written by: Mark A. Smith

I am a cognitive scientist with a joint PhD in cognitive psychology and neuroscience from the Center of the Neural Basis of Cognition (Carnegie Mellon/Pittsburgh). At IQ Mindware we develop brain training interventions to increase IQ, critical thinking, decision making, creativity and executive functioning.