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Encyclopedia > Raven's Progressive Matrices
The cover of a test booklet for Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices
The cover of a test booklet for Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices

Raven's Progressive Matrices (often referred to simply as Raven's Matrices) are multiple choice tests of abstract reasoning, originally developed by Dr John C. Raven in 1938.[1] In each test item, a candidate is asked to identify the missing segment required to complete a larger pattern. Many items are presented in the form of a 3x3 or 2x2 matrix, giving the test its name. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 482 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (596 × 741 pixel, file size: 65 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The cover of a Ravens Standard Progressive Matrices test booklet. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 482 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (596 × 741 pixel, file size: 65 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The cover of a Ravens Standard Progressive Matrices test booklet. ... Multiple choice (MCQ) questions or items are a form of assessment item for which respondents are asked to select one or more of the choices from a list. ... ... Reasoning is the act of using reason to derive a conclusion from certain premises. ... In mathematics, a matrix (plural matrices) is a rectangular table of numbers or, more generally, a table consisting of abstract quantities that can be added and multiplied. ...



The matrices are offered 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 booklet comprises five sets (A to E) of 12 items each (e.g. A1 through to A12), with items within a set becoming increasing difficult, requiring ever greater cognitive capacity to encode and analyze information. All items are presented in black ink on a white background.
  • Coloured Progressive Matrices: Designed for younger children, the elderly, and people with moderate or severe learning difficulties, this test contains sets A and B from the standard matrices, with a further set of 12 items inserted between the two, as set Ab. Most items are presented on a coloured background to make the test visually stimulating for participants. However the very last few items in set B are presented as black-on-white — in this way, if participants exceed the tester's expectations, transition to sets C, D, and E of the standard matrices is eased.
  • Advanced Progressive Matrices: The advanced form of the matrices contains 48 items, presented as one set of 12 (set I), and another of 36 (set II). Items are again presented in black ink on a white background, and become increasingly difficult as progress is made through each set. These items are appropriate for adults and adolescents of above average intelligence.

In addition, so-called 'parallel' forms of the standard and coloured progressive matrices were published in 1998. This was to address the problem of the Raven's Matrices being too well-known in the general population. Items in the parallel tests have been constructed such that average solution rates to each question are identical for the classic and parallel versions. An extended form of the standard progressive matrices, Standard Progressive Matrices Plus, was published at the same time, offering greater discrimination among more able young adults. Developmental disability is a term used to describe life-long disabilities attributable to mental and/or physical or combination of mental and physical impairments, manifested prior to age twenty-two. ...

Underlying factors

According to their author, Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary tests measure the two main components of general intelligence (originally identified by Spearman): the ability to think clearly and make sense of complexity, which is known as eductive ability (from the Latin root "educere", meaning "to draw out") and the ability to store and reproduce information, known as reproductive ability.

Adequate standardization, ease of use (without written or complex instructions), and minimal cost per person tested are the main reasons for its widespread international use in most countries of the world. It appears to measure a type of reasoning ability which is fundamental to making sense out of the "booming buzzing confusion" in all walks of life. It has among the highest predictive validities of any test in most occupational groups and, even more importantly, in predicting social mobility, the level of job a person will attain and retain. As a test of individuals it can be quite expensive . However, the per person cost can be much lower, because the test booklets are re-usable and that can be used up to 50 times each.

The authors of the manual recommend that, when used in selection, RPM scores are set in the context of information relating to Raven's framework for the assessment of competence.

Some of the most fundamental research in cognitive psychology has been carried out with the RPM. The tests have been shown to work - scale - measure the same thing - in a vast variety of cultural groups. Two remarkable, and relatively recent, findings are that, on the one hand, the actual scores obtained by people living in most countries with a tradition of literacy - from China, Russia, and India through Europe to Kuwait - are very similar at any point in time. On the other hand, in all countries, the scores have increased dramatically over time ... such that 50% of our grandparents would be assigned to special education classes if they were judged against today's norms (see Flynn effect). Yet none of the common explanations - access to television, changes in education, changes in family size etc. - hold up. The explanation seems to have more in common with those put forward to explain the parallel increase in life expectancy ... which has doubled over the same period of time. The Flynn effect is the rise of average Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test scores, an effect seen in most parts of the world, although at greatly varying rates. ...

John Carlyle Raven first published his Progressive Matrices in the United Kingdom in 1938. His three sons established Scotland-based test publisher J C Raven Ltd. in 1972. In 2004, Harcourt Assessment, Inc. a division of Harcourt Education acquired J C Raven Ltd. Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Motto (Latin) No one provokes me with impunity Cha togar mfhearg gun dioladh (Scottish Gaelic) Wha daur meddle wi me?(Scots)1 Anthem (Multiple unofficial anthems) Scotlands location in Europe and the United Kingdom Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow Official languages English, Gaelic and Scots1 Government Constitutional monarchy... Year 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... shelby was here 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Harcourt Assessment, previously known as The Psychological Corporation is a company that publishes and distributes psychological assessment tools and therapy resources. ... Harcourts logo Harcourt Education, Reed Elseviers global Education division, is a publisher serving the pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 school, assessment and trade publishing markets in the US and primary and secondary school markets internationally. ...

Test bias

Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrice has been used to test people in countries around the world. Rushton, Skuy and Bons, who support a theory of race differences in intelligence due to genetic causes, rather than environmental or cultural factors, have written that Raven's presents no cultural bias when used to test Black Africans, Whites and East Indians. They suggest that there is no truth in the assertion that the low mean scores obtained in some groups arise from a general lack of familiarity with the way of thought measured by the test.[citation needed]

Steven F. Cronshaw, Leah K. Hamilton, Betty R. Onyura and Andrew S. Winston published a response to Rushton, Skuy and Bons in 2006 in which they challenged the methodology that had been employed, especially the use of "non-equivalent groups in test samples". [2]

The use of Raven's as an unbiased or culture-free test is no longer debated in the academic community.


  1. ^ Raven, J.C. (1938). Progressive matrices: A perceptual test of intelligence. London:H.K. Lewis.
  2. ^ Case for Non-Biased Intelligence Testing Against Black Africans Has Not Been Made: A Comment on International Journal of Selection and Assessment 14 (3), 278–287.


  • Raven, J., Raven, J.C., & Court, J.H. (2003). Manual for Raven's Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Section 1: General Overview. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessment.

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