For most people sitting the UKCAT, the Type 2 and Type 3 abstract reasoning questions will be something they have never encountered before. The hand-me-down books and the free sample questions online quite simply don’t cover this new section and you have no clue where to start.

Well, thankfully, here at JobTestPrep we have dedicated time, effort and expert guidance in dissecting the Type 2 and 3 abstract reasoning tests down to their basics, enabling you to take these tests with the minimum of worry and apprehension.


So let’s begin with the UKCAT Type 2 abstract reasoning questions; in its simplest terms, you will be given a set of 4 consecutive boxes filled with shapes that follow a pattern from one to the next. Your task is to detect this pattern and apply it to the next box – thus determining your answer box. We will discuss this, and how to tackle this type of question in further detail later.

Now, the UKCAT Type 3 abstract reasoning questions are similar. You will be given 4 boxes, 2 in the top row and 2 in the bottom. The top two boxes will be related to each other by a unique pattern, as will the bottom two boxes by the same pattern. However, the bottom right box is empty – you must find the correct box to place in there. So how do you do this? Well, quite simply, you must find the pattern that links the top two boxes together, and then apply it to the bottom left box in order to detect the correct bottom right. In other words, something happens to the top left box to convert it into the top right box; apply the same rule you detect to the bottom left box to find the bottom right box. Easy!

“So how do I find the patterns between boxes?”

To begin with, we’ll focus on Type 2 abstract reasoning questions. As mentioned before, the four boxes are consecutively related to each other. This means that between the first box and the second box, a rule is applied. This rule is then applied between the second and third boxes, and so on. The easiest way to detect the pattern that applies to each question is as follows:
Focus on box 1 and box 2. Look for a pattern between the two boxes – ask yourself what changes occur in the shapes between the boxes? Think about the following:

  • Rotations of individual shapes clockwise/counter-clockwise around the box.
  • Rotations of individual shapes clockwise/counter-clockwise in a fixed position.
  • Increase/decreases in size.
  • Colour alternation – this is a useful way to eliminate distracter answers (if you’re unsure about distracter answers, see our online UKCAT material). If a shape alternates between black, and white you should be able to determine that in the answer box, the shape will be black. So, if it is white in one of the answer options, you can eliminate that one because it will be wrong.

Check if the same pattern occurs between boxes 2 and 3, and then boxes 3 and 4.
Apply your rule to the 4th box, thus helping you work out the 5th box which will be your answer.

Type 3 is much simpler; the top left box will be filled with a number of shapes, as will the top right box. Look at the two boxes and compare the differences between them. Use the same rules as Type 2 questions (see bullet points above) and figure out what the changes are. Then apply these to the bottom left box to come up with your final answer.

In Summary

This is a very general overview of some just some of the methods that you can use to help decipher the rules used within each of the type 2 and 3 UKCAT abstract reasoning questions. For much more information on methods of spotting distractors, a more advanced mnemonic, and a list of some of the most common patterns and features to look out for, head over to our UKCAT section. Here you can take a free UKCAT test online; sign up for our UKCAT online packages. There you will find HUNDREDS of questions following the concepts of both type 2 and type 3. You can even speak to one of our experienced UKCAT tutors for some extra guidance! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!