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Raven's 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 1936. 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.

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 increasingly difficult, requiring ever greater cognitive capacity to encode and analyze information. All items are presented in black ink on a white background.

Colored 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 colored 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. The fact that testees have grown increasingly experienced with the Ravens over the last 60 years could explain the increases in scores of around 10 IQ points per generation.

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.

The Triple Nine Society uses the Advanced Progressive Matrices form for one of their admission tests. They require a score of at least 32 out of 36 on or before December 31st, 1999 on the RAPM. The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry
(ISPE) similarly accepts the RAPM as a qualification for admission.

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 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 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 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. Yet none of the common explanations - access to television, changes in education, or changes in family size stand up to close scrutiny. 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.

A 2007 study provided evidence that individuals with Autism score higher in Raven's tests than in Wechsler tests. In addition the people with autism were providing correct answers to the Raven's test in less time, though erring as often as people without autism.

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.