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Raven's Progressive Matrices

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Test Overview Raven's Vocabulary Scales
Manual Sections Computerised tests
Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM) Board form tests

BACKGROUND TO THE RPM


The Raven's Progressive Matrices can be described as "tests of observation and clear thinking". Each problem in the Test is really the mother or "Source" of a system of thought while the order in which the problems are presented provides training in the method of working. Hence the name "Progressive Matrices".

The first form of the Progressive Matrices test to be developed was the Standard series. This was designed to cover the whole range of ability from low-scoring respondents and young children, through high-scoring adults, to those of old age. To spread the scores — and thereby facilitate analysis — at respectively, the lower and upper ranges of ability, the Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) and the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) were developed. Together, at the time of their development these three tests enabled most needs to be met.

As we have seen, by the late 1980s the cross-cultural increase in scores had meant that there was a marked ceiling effect among youths and young adults on the SPM, while the APM was yielding an excellent distribution across the entire adult population. In addition, some users felt that the existing CPM and SPM had become too well known for the scores to be trusted. Accordingly, work was put in hand to develop versions of the tests which would (a) parallel the existing tests, both on an item-by-item and total score basis (so that all the existing normative and research data would be applicable). and (b) restore the SPM and APM's discriminative power at the upper levels of ability.

However the decision about what to do about the increase in scores was not, straightforward because, while resulting in a lack of discrimination among able young adults, it also resulted in the SPM offering excellent discrimination among less able older adults. In the end, it was decided to publish both exactly parallel versions of the SPM and CPM and a version of the SPM which, while retaining most of the easy items, restored its discriminative power among more able young adults (SPM Plus).

RPM-MATRICES
The Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) The Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM)
The Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM)

CPM

The Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM), from which Sets C, D, and E of the Standard series have been omitted, but into which an additional set of 12 problems (Set Ab) has been interpolated between Sets A and B, is designed to assess with greater precision the intellectual processes of young children, mentally retarded persons and the elderly. The coloured backgrounds on which the problems are printed attract attention, make the test spontaneously interesting, and obviate the need for too much verbal instruction. Success in Set A depends on a person's ability to complete continuous patterns which, towards the end of the set, change first in one, and then in two, directions at the same time. Success in Set Ab depends on a persons ability to see discrete figures as spatially related wholes, and to choose figures which complete the design. Set B contains just sufficient problems involving analogies to show whether or not a person is capable of thinking in this way. The last few problems in Set B are of the same order of difficulty as the early problems in Sets C, D, and E of the Standard Test. To facilitate transition from the Coloured to the Standard series, the last few problems of Set B are printed in the Coloured version exactly as they appear in the Standard Test. In this way, a person who succeeds in solving these problems can proceed without interruption to Sets C, D and E so that total capacity for intellectual activity can be more accurately assessed. When appropriate, the score on the intermediate Set Ab can be omitted, and the total score on Sets A, B, C, D and E used to assess the percentile grade in accordance with the norms for the Standard Test. This will usually agree with the percentile grade on Sets A, Ab, and B. but where the intellectual capacity to form comparisons and reason by analogy has matured, the SPM score is likely to be the more reliable and psychologically valid. Before the capacity to form comparisons and reason by analogy has matured, or in cases where it has become impaired, the CPM will indicate the degree of development or deterioration, of a person's capacity for observation and clear thinking. After this capacity has matured, the SPM will assess a person's intellectual capacity relative to other people of the same age.

Answer Sheets for the Parallel CPM and SPM and SPM Plus

As has been explained, the parallel versions of the CPM and SPM were developed to foil respondents who have memorised the correct answers. To help to ensure this, the position of the correct answer among the options on each item differs from that in the Classic versions of the tests. This is also the case for SPM Plus. It is therefore essential to ensure that the Answer Sheets and/or Scoring Keys selected correspond to the test used.

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Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM)

APM

The Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) offers a means of: (i) enquiring into the nature of high-level eductive ability (ii) spreading the scores of the more able — which has become particularly important in the light of the previously documented increase in scores over the years: and (iii) assessing speed of accurate intellectual work. Set I consists of only 12 problems. It is generally used to establish a field of thought for respondents and provide them with training in the method of working. However, it can also be used, under timed or untimed conditions, to obtain a rapid index of eductive ability or efficiency. Set I is normally followed immediately by Set II, although respondents can be allowed to take the first set away several days before testing in order to practise. Set II consists of 36 problems, arranged in ascending order of difficulty. As a result, it is not necessary for everyone to attempt every problem before stopping. By imposing a time limit, Set II can therefore be used to assess "intellectual efficiency". Although this is generally closely related to capacity for orderly thinking, this is not always the case and the two must not be confused with each other.

An index of intellectual efficiency is particularly useful when assessing suitability for work in which quick, accurate, judgements are needed, or when, as in some kinds of clinical work, one requires an assessment of a person's slowness of thinking.

Despite the fact that the APM now yields an excellent discrimination across the entire adult ability range, it cannot be unreservedly recommended for general use. This is partly because the cyclical format of the SPM offers five successive opportunities for those taking the test to acquire a sense of what is required and develop an appropriate method of working. The SPM is therefore to be preferred if it is considered that some respondents would benefit from practice. Other advantages of the SPM are:


Lower-scoring respondents encounter fewer problems that are too difficult for them, and, as a result, have a more positive experience.
There is more research data for the SPM, including seperate norms for different sub-populations.
As an untimed test, it is less stressful for respondents.

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Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM)


SPM

The Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) is divided into five Sets of twelve problems (Sets A, B, C, D, and E). Each Set starts with a problem which is, as far as possible, self-evident and develops a theme in the course of which the problems build on the argument of what has gone before and thus become progressively more difficult. This procedure provides the respondent with five opportunities to become familiar with the field and method of thought required to solve the problems. Administered in the standard way, the test therefore provides a built-in training programme and indexes the ability to learn from experience or learning potential". The cyclical format also provides an opportunity to assess the consistency of a person's intellectual activity across five successive lines of thinking. The test length was carefully constructed to be just sufficiently long to assess a person's maximum capacity for coherent perception and orderly judgement without being too exhausting or unwieldy.

It has unfortunately proved impossible to fully retain this structure in the SPM Plus, although it is hoped that a reasonable compromise has been reached by retaining all the items in the first two Sets, introducing more difficult items, and eliminating many items from the third to fifth Sets in the original.

Sometimes it is important to know a person's speed of accurate intellectual work, as distinct from the total capacity for orderly thinking. As the SPM is arranged into five Sets, each of which begins with simple problems and grows increasingly difficult, a person's speed of intellectual work cannot be measured from the number of problems solved in a fixed time. Use of the SPM with an overall time limit results in an uneven and invalid distribution of scores because some people devote a great deal of time attempting later problems of, say, Set D while others skip over them and greatly enhance their scores by correctly solving the easier items of Set E. This problem can be overcome by timing each Set separately. Until recently, this was the normal way of administering the test in Australia. However, the procedure is cumbersome, and the desired information can be obtained more easily using the Advanced Progressive Matrices.

Answer Sheets for the Parallel CPM and SPM and SPM Plus

As has been explained, the parallel versions of the CPM and SPM were developed to foil respondents who have memorised the correct answers. To help to ensure this, the position of the correct answer among the options on each item differs from that in the Classic versions of the tests. This is also the case for SPM Plus. It is therefore essential to ensure that the Answer Sheets and/or Scoring Keys selected correspond to the test used.

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