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What Is Raven's Progressive Matrices?

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  • Written By: R. Stamm
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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The Raven’s Progressive Matrices are a nonverbal, multiple choice test that measure the general intelligence or abstract reasoning ability of an individual. Named for John C. Raven, the test creator, it is considered one of the best single measures of general intelligence available. The test is comprised of a series of patterns presented in the form of matrices and is more difficult as the test progresses. Throughout the course of the test, the subject is asked to identify the missing element in the pattern.

The test has three different forms, the original being the Standard Progressive Matrices, geared toward determining the level of intelligence of an individual. All three forms of the Raven’s Progressive Matrices test measure, to varying degrees, two components of general intelligence. One component determines a person’s ability to think clearly and make sense of complex situations. The other component indicates an individual’s ability to store, process, and reproduce information. It is believed that both components are solid, reliable measures of the person’s mental capacity.

The test is comprised of five sets of 12 matrices that require more cognitive capacity from the individual taking the test as it progresses. The matrices involve a wide variety of problems, and the person must successfully solve those problems in order to receive a higher score. Another form of Raven’s Progressive Matrices targets other populations, such as children or individuals who may have known cognitive inabilities.

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The Coloured Progressive Matrices presents the patterns in color. Instead of five sets, this test has only three sets of 12 patterns in which the last set is presented in black and white. If the individual is successful in completing the third set, the person graduates to the last three sets of the Standard Progressive Matrices test.

The final form of the test, Advanced Progressive Matrices, is designed for people believed to have above-average general intelligence. This test only has two sets of matrices. In the first set of matrices, there are only 12 presented, which become increasingly difficult. The second set contains 36 matrices that are more difficult than the standard version of the test.

The educational, clinical, and occupational fields all use Raven’s Progressive Matrices for various reasons. The test is helpful in assessing the neurological damage to a patient in the hospital. It is also useful in determining the cognitive abilities of people who cannot cope with the demands of longer intelligence tests. Schools use them to determine whether a student should be placed in a gifted program or a program for the learning-disabled. In business, the test is used to identify individuals who are best suited for management positions.

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