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The Ultimate Guide To Spatial Reasoning | Thinking Skills

Shapes, patterns, and arrangement. Does your child struggle with Spatial Reasoning? Find out what Thinking Skills Spatial Reasoning is and test your child's knowledge using our free exam-style questions.

The Ultimate Guide To Spatial Reasoning

What is Spatial Reasoning? How does it appear in the OC test? Spatial Reasoning is a critical component of both the Thinking Skills and Mathematical Reasoning sections of the Opportunity Class test. In this article, we use exam-style Spatial Reasoning questions to show you what to expect.


In this post on Spatial Reasoning, we’ll explore:


spatial reasoning_thinking skills for opportunity class

What is Spatial Reasoning?

Spatial Reasoning is an important component of primary school problem solving and critical thinking that requires students to be adept at identifying arrangements and patterns of shapes. In the OC placement test, students need to be prepared to answer a wide variety of question types involving 2D or 3D shapes or patterns.

Students often struggle with the visual and mental manipulation aspect of Spatial Reasoning questions. Unlike number or word-based problems, there isn’t much written working out that can be done for the majority of these questions.


So, what will it take for your child to master Spatial Reasoning?

It all boils down to practice and learning from tangible everyday experiences.


What is Spatial Reasoning actually testing?

Spatial Reasoning isn’t just about preparing your child for the OC test. When building primary maths skills for their children, many parents are unaware that there’s more to it than just numeracy. A key component of early development in maths is learning through visual depictions and patterns.

You can help develop your child’s early numeracy skills by introducing dialogue around the relationships between numbers. For example, a car going 50 km an hour is faster than a car going 40 km an hour.


Why is Spatial Reasoning important?

Spatial Reasoning is a fundamental skill that will help your child develop the mental ability to picture and manipulate shapes and objects. This is why building familiarity with Spatial Reasoning skills leads to a higher aptitude for concepts in a variety of STEM subjects.


Types of Spatial Reasoning questions

The Spatial Reasoning skill set asks students to first look at images of shapes, objects, or patterns. Students must then answer questions on the arrangement of these images. These questions are designed to get students to mentally visualise physically accurate movements and sequences of these images. With such a wide variety of question types, it’s easier to understand what Spatial Reasoning is by looking at some common examples.


1. Predicting how objects, shapes, or patterns look when rotated or viewed in a mirror.

For this question type, students have to think about how a shape or pattern would look if it was rotated or flipped along an axis. A common example of this is when students are asked to identify the mirror image of an arrow. To solve these questions, students need to mentally rotate and flip images.

mirror image example in OC test thinking skills


2. Identifying how objects look from different angles and viewpoints.

Students are given a 3D object and are asked to identify what the object would look like on a 2D plane. For example, students may be presented with a cone shape and asked to identify how it would look from the side versus from above.

top and side view of 3D objects OC test thinking skills


3. ​How different parts of an object can be fitted together like a puzzle.

Students are given two different shapes and asked to consider what new shape is produced by fitting them together. For example, 2 equally sized squares placed next to each other can make a rectangle.

combining shapes OC test thinking skills


4. Recognising the position of items or objects in relation to each other.

This question type asks students to think about where different objects are in space. It then asks students to think about the relationship in terms of distance and positioning between these two objects.

For example, students are shown an image and must recognise that a dog is inside the kennel or a cat is behind the fence.


So, how can you help your child master Spatial Reasoning?

Working to build your child’s everyday experiences with the fundamental concepts of Spatial Reasoning is an important first step toward mastering this skill. Start by initiating conversations about and using spatial language with your child.

You can do this by:

  • Use terms describing shapes to differentiate between 2D and 3D objects.
  • Identify dimensions and size by using descriptive words like tiny, small, large, and huge.
  • Define direction, distance and positions of objects in relation to each other using terms like behind, close, near, and far.
  • Identify the connection between speed and distance by talking about travel time between 2 points.

The final step is to practise regularly.


Due to the huge array of different question types testing Spatial Reasoning, the only way for your child to master all components of the skill is through consistent practice.


5 Sample Questions

We’ve provided 5 sample Spatial Reasoning questions similar to those from the OC or the Matrix+ Thinking Skills online course with detailed solutions below. Try them out with your child to gauge their understanding!

Question 1

image rotation OC test thinking skills practice question

Solution 1

Getting to the solution:

  1. Visualise each of the arrows for A, B, C, and D pointing directly upwards
  2. Look at whether the two lines on the tail of the arrow are on the left or right
  3. Compare the arrow in the figures to find the answer

Therefore, the solution to this question is D.

All of the arrows have their tails on the right when the arrow is pointing upwards, except for D, which has tails on the left when it points upwards, just like the arrow in the question.


Question 2

mirror image OC test thinking skills practice question

Solution 2

Getting to the solution:

  1. Look at the original figure
  2. Mentally visualise each of the components of the image and what their position should be when flipped along an axis
  3. Compare this visual image with each of the solutions
  4. Consider whether each of the possible solutions is a reflection or a rotation
  5. Remember, some of the solutions may be incomplete reflections of the figure

The solution for this question is C.

Option A gives an inverse (upside down) version of the figure. Option B correctly reflects the two top corner objects but not the triangles nor the middle and bottom left corner quadrilaterals. Option C correctly reflects the entire figure along the vertical axis. Option D is a 180-degree rotation of the figure, not a reflection.


Question 3

complete the pattern OC test thinking skills practice question

Solution 3

Getting to the solution:

  1. Look at the figure and identify what the pattern is
  2. Visualise each of the solution images in the empty spot of the pattern
  3. Check each component of the image to make sure it precisely matches the pattern

The solution for this question is C.

The bottom left corner must contain the top right corner of a square in order to complete the middle square. The top right corner must contain an arc since all four corners of the figure have an arc in the corner. A white rectangle must intersect the arc and touch the left side to join with the rest of the rectangle, and the black rectangle must emerge from the bottom side and intersect the white triangle.


Question 4

cube net folding OC test thinking skills practice question

Solution 4

Getting to the solution:

  1. Consider how many sides the cube has, the net should have the same number of sides
  2. Now, consider where the base (bottom) of the cube needs to be and where the open face needs to be
  3. The dark grey square on each net is the base; visualise folding each of the nets

The solution for this question is B.

Options A and C would be the nets of a closed cube, having 6 sides each. Option D would create the net of an open cube but the placement of the base is incorrect; the base would have to be on the left-most square to create the correct arrangement.


Question 5

fitting shapes together OC test thinking skills practice question

Solution 5

Getting to the solution:

  1. Consider how the pieces in the figure can be fitted together
  2. Find the shape in the solution that would fit the empty space

The solution for this question is A.

Only shape A allows the shapes to fit into a square without rotation.

fitting shapes together OC test thinking skills practice question answers

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Written by Alfred Cho

Alfred Cho studies at the University of Sydney undertaking a Bachelor of Advanced Studies in Media and Communications and a Bachelor of English. Alfred is an English Teacher at Matrix with a keen interest in film, radio, and TV production.


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