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Raven’s test: what it is and how to interpret the Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test

In this article, clinical neuropsychologist and Director of Espai Neurològic, Anna Curto, explains what the Raven test consists of and how to interpret the results of the Raven Progressive Matrices test.

What is the Raven test and what does it measure?

If you wonder what the Raven test is and what it is used for, the Raven test is a psychometric test that involves completing matrices by choosing from various available options.

With this apparently simple task, the eductive capacity of the person being evaluated is evaluated, thus being able to obtain a score of the respondent’s ability to reason and solve complex problems.

Example similar to the Raven’s test, where the evaluee must identify which is the missing figure.

Origin of the test

This test has gone through various names and versions. The first of them dates back to 1938 when it was published under the name Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices. The idea has not varied in its different versions, but it has been reviewed and adapted to different populations. The latest published version is the Raven’s 2, dating back to 2019.

The Raven matrices were designed to evaluate the “G Factor” of intelligence, estimated as the ability to solve complex problems through intellectual reasoning without language interference, thus without influence from the educational and cultural background of the individual.

What does the Raven test consist of?

As specified in the manual of Raven’s 2 in its latest version, the test consists of a series of universal and identifiable geometric shapes regardless of educational level. The verbal instruction is unique and does not require any writing or speaking ability for its correct completion. It simply involves completing the matrix presented with one of the elements or patterns shown among the different available responses.

Raven Test: ages

Furthermore, the age range for application is very broad, from 4 years old to 69 years and 11 months.

This test measures what Spearman (1927) referred to as eductive aptitude. Mental eductive activity requires making sense of disorder, looking for what is not obvious, and also investigating new insights. In summary, it would be equivalent to analyzing the pattern of relationships of the stimuli presented, seeking what changes or relationships exist among them, and from there considering what the correct response from the options presented would be.

These tasks are presented with progressive difficulty, allowing the evaluated individual to train in the resolution method.

How to administer the Raven test? Main uses

The score obtained in the Raven test cannot be interpreted as the value of the subject’s overall intelligence, as it only evaluates specific domains of cognitive functioning.

These domains are closely related to executive functions (reasoning, planning, cognitive flexibility, decision-making, abstraction, etc.), and it is not recommended to administer the test to individuals in whom these domains are strengths or weaknesses, due to the potential bias in the results.

It can be administered individually or in groups, providing versatility, useful for assessing eductive capacity in groups (scientific research, educational institutions, personnel selection processes, etc.), as well as in individual assessments such as cognitive and/or psychological assessment centers.

Clinical practice

In clinical practice, when assessing a subject’s overall intelligence, it is more appropriate to use other intelligence assessment batteries, such as those by Wechsler (WPPSI, WISC, or WAIS) in their different versions, as they provide a more comprehensive approach to cognition.

Specifically, Wechsler’s intelligence tests include a subtest in the perceptual reasoning or fluid reasoning domain based precisely on Raven’s progressive matrices. This is because the eductive capacity assessed by the Raven test is very similar to what is known as fluid intelligence, defined as the ability to solve problems, reason, and think flexibly.

Patients with acquired brain damage and language impairments

On the other hand, Raven’s Matrices are very useful in estimating the capacities of patients who cannot use language, whether due to a disorder, injury, or simply lack of knowledge. For example, it facilitates estimating eductive capacity in patients with acquired brain damage who have lost language use, aiming to determine their premorbid cognitive level and formulate more realistic stimulation and/or rehabilitation goals.

It is also easy to apply to individuals with language disorders, such as Specific Language Impairment (SLI), selective mutism, or foreigners who do not know or master the language.

How to interpret the Raven test? Interpreting Raven test results

The results obtained in Raven’s progressive matrices test should be interpreted considering the patient’s medical, personal, occupational, and emotional background, as well as their level of motivation and effort during the test application.

Direct scores are the correct responses obtained directly in the test, which are ultimately transformed into typical scores enabling the qualitative classification of the subject’s eductive capacity.

ScoreQualitative classification
≥ 130Very high
≤ 69Very low
Raven’s test results: Raven’s test 95th percentile, 90th percentile, 75th percentile, etc.

Furthermore, there is also the possibility of checking the equivalent age, which displays the average age, in years and months, at which a certain aptitude score is most frequently obtained. This fact facilitates the interpretation and understanding of the scores and equivalences for those individuals who do not have general knowledge about psychometric concepts.


The Raven’s Progressive Matrices test, also known as the Raven Progressive Matrices test, is a psychometric test with a long history in the field of psychology, capable of estimating the eductive capacity of the subject taking the test.

It uses basic and universal geometric shapes, understandable to all ages and cultures. It is primarily based on intellectual reasoning ability, making sense of disorder without interference from language and/or culture.

It is a highly versatile test, both in its application, which can be group or individual, as well as the age range it can assess, covering from 4 years old to 69 years and 11 months.


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