3 Police Psychometric Tests: IRTs, VRTs and NRTs

Verbal numerical psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are one of the many types of assessments used in UK police promotion processes. If your force has them as part of your local process, why not study and practice like you did for the NPPF Step 2 legal exam? In my blog all about the various assessments used in police promotion processes, I gave some overall definitions, pointers on preparation, and summarised the various psychometric and other assessment centre tests in use. Then we delved into situational judgement and critical thinking tests. In this follow-up blog, I will explain more about Inductive Reasoning Tests, Verbal Reasoning Tests, and Numerical Reasoning Tests used in promotion assessment centres. This will include examples and signposting to where you can practice ahead of your next opportunity.

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. It reduces the imperfection.” – Toba Beta

This helpful explainer video gives an overview of what to expect with these types of psychometric tests, before we dive in with definitions and examples of each:


Inductive Reasoning Test (IRT)

Psychometric tests in police promotion

Definition: Inductive Reasoning Tests are used to assess your ability to see patterns and solve problems.

What are Inductive Reasoning Tests (IRTs)? IRTs are a form of psychometric test used in police promotion to assess your ability to think logically and methodically in solving problems, within a limited time. These capabilities can be a particular strength for those with neurodiverse thinking. Your ability to think broadly and test out different possibilities; I’ve blogged before on thinking differently about challenges, see ‘Thinking Outside De Bono’.

In this assessment test, you will need to recognise patterns or rules in a sequence of visual diagrams and abstract shapes. Based on the sequence, you may be asked to decide from the options which is the odd one out or what comes next in the sequence. Accuracy and speed are important, plus they can be tricky to get the hang of for the uninitiated, so practicing IRTs in advance of your promotion process is a must! Your logical thinking and also timekeeping are important factors in IRTs.

IRTs are designed to measure abilities that are important in solving problems. Common tests used include the SHL Logical Reasoning and the Saville Abstract Reasoning tests. Clearly problem solving is a critical skill relevant to police leadership, though be aware the tests will rarely resemble anything police related and are usually depicted graphically. As such, IRTs are sometimes referred to as abstract reasoning tests and diagrammatic style tests. They are designed to measure ability to work flexibly with unfamiliar information and find solutions. People who perform well on these tests tend to have a greater capacity to think conceptually and analytically.

The best way to approach these tests (other than practice!) is to determine the pattern in the first few figures, then quickly test out your theory by applying the logic to the next figures.

Example police IRT

An example IRT is shown above, with the correct answer highlighted. In this instance, you can imagine that in the first example, image ‘X’ has rotated clockwise to become image ‘Y’, with the triangular corner shape changing from black to white. Performing the same logic on image ‘Z’ would create the highlighted image from the available options below.Here is another example of an inductive reasoning sequence. Take a look at the top row, where the frames again advance from left to right in a certain way. Try to predict the next shape in the sequence from the options listed in the second row.

Inductive reasoning test example

You can practice more free IRTs here.

3 Police Psychometric Tests: IRTs, VRTs and NRTs 1
Get complete support on your promotion at www.ranksuccess.co.uk

Numerical Reasoning Test (NRT)

Numerical reasoning tests in policing matrix

Definition: Numerical Reasoning Tests assess a candidate’s ability to interpret and draw conclusions from numerical information.

What are Numerical Reasoning Tests (NRTs)? NRTs are a psychometric test that indicates someone’s ability to perform calculations and interpret/evaluate numerical information to solve problems. Questions in NRTs may be presented in tables or graphs and like many other assessment tests will be timed and in multiple-choice format. NRTs are more common at the more strategic Inspecting ranks, who will be dealing with such information as part of performance management in the role (as per below video).

Like other psychometric tests, the best approach is practicing the NRTs. Those with neurodiverse conditions such as dyscalculia will clearly be at a disadvantage here, so in addition to practice tests the associated study guides will help. It is recommended to seek support or reasonable adjustments in your force. You will be under time pressure, so consider the following handy tips on shorthand approaches and information about NRTs to get you started:

The numerical reasoning section might include a question like, ‘The average age of 20 kids in class is 9 years. What is the sum of their ages?’ To answer the question correctly, you would need to follow a formula such as, (sum of items) = average x (number of items). In this case it’s 9 x 20, which equals 180.

In a number series section, you might be asked to choose one correct answer from a series of numbers and letters. For example, in the following sequence what would be the next letter and number: A5 | C3 | E1 | ?. To answer the question correctly, you will have to figure out that as the letters increase by 2, the numbers decrease by 2 (so the answer here would be G-1). See more practice tests and study guides here.

You may also want to familiarise yourself with numerical and graphical information on a subject of interest as part of your general CPD. For example, check out this analysis of the first results of the online Sergeants legal exam and UK promotion opportunities, or this blog on how many UK police officers there are and how that has changed since the 1940s!


Verbal Reasoning Test (VRT)

Verbal numerical psychometric tests

Definition: The ability to identify relevant information and draw logical conclusions from written information.

What are Verbal Reasoning Tests (VRTs)? VRTs are psychometric tests which assess your logical abilities and capability to understand written information. Understanding and evaluating complex information to inform decision-making is a key part of the CVF competency, ‘We Analyse Critically’.

You will typically be asked to read a passage of text, then asked questions to determine whether statements about that text can for example be logically defined as ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘cannot say’. This is exactly what is meant based on each of those statements, so be careful to only use information within the text to infer such conclusions:

True: The statement follows logically given the information contained within the passage.

False: The statement cannot logically follow given the information contained within the passage.

Cannot Say: The provided information is not sufficient to determine either way; i.e. more information would be required to say for certain.

As with all psychometric tests, practice makes perfect so here are some free practice VRTs and study guides to help you on your way.


I hope you found this blog helpful and thought-provoking. For more support on your police promotion journey, here’s more free blog content, regular YouTube videos, and a new police promotion and leadership podcast. For comprehensive and focused prep, my in-depth Rank Success digital toolkits and Video Masterclass which covers the role at Level 2 of the CVF, provides example evidence, includes all stages of the promotion process and much, much more! You can also use code POLICEHOUR20 at checkout to save 20% on any Rank Success digital promotion toolkits or bundles.

Kind Regards, Steve

Police promotion guides and example questions