Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM)

The Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) test, developed by John C. Raven (1940s), is a widely used non-verbal intelligence test designed to measure abstract reasoning and problem-solving abilities. It is also known as the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM).

The SPM is a measure of fluid intelligence, which is the ability to think abstractly, solve problems, and adapt to new situations. It is not a measure of crystallized intelligence, which is the accumulation of knowledge and skills..


Description of Standard Progressive Matrices 

The standard progressive matrices (SPM) is a type of nonverbal intelligence test that measure abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills. The test consists of 60 items, divided into five sets (A, B, C, D, and E), each containing 12 items. The items are presented in a matrix format, with a pattern of shapes and symbols that has one piece missing. The test taker has to choose the correct piece from six or eight options to complete the pattern.

The items become progressively more difficult as the test progresses, requiring the test taker to use both spatial and logical skills.  The test can be used with individuals ranging in age from 6 years to adult.

The SPM test is a paper-and-pencil assessment, typically administered in a booklet format. Each page of the booklet contains a matrix or grid. These matrices may vary in complexity and contain a series of geometric shapes or symbols.

Here are some of the psychometric properties of the SPM:

Validity of Standard Progressive Matrices :

Construct validity of the SPM has been supported by numerous studies across cultures and populations. The test’s ability to measure fluid intelligence, devoid of cultural or educational biases, has been well-established (Raven, 2000).  Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) has insured the theoretical building for the items according to Spearman’s theory of intelligence.

Additionally, the SPM has shown strong convergent validity with other measures of intelligence, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Cattell Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CCFIT), further affirming its validity (Sternberg, 2008).

Reliability of Standard Progressive Matrices :

The SPM has been shown to be a reliable measure of fluid intelligence. Internal consistency reliability, as measured by Cronbach’s alpha, is typically in the high 0.80s to 0.90s (Raven et al., 1998; Raven, Raven & & Duncan, 1988). Test-retest reliability is also high, with correlation coefficients typically ranging from 0.70 to 0.90 (Raven et al., 1998; Raven et al., 1988)

Norms for Standard Progressive Matrices :

Normative data for the SPM exists for various age groups and gender allowing for comparison of individual performance against standardized scores. These norms facilitate the interpretation of an individual’s SPM score in comparison to the general population, aiding in diagnostic and assessment purposes (Flanagan, 2013).

 Administration of Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM):

Trained proctors or examiners typically administer the SPM test in a controlled and quiet environment. Test-takers are instructed to examine each matrix and determine which element (e.g., a shape or symbol) is missing or should replace a question mark within the matrix. They must choose the correct response from a set of multiple-choice options provided.

Instructions for Standard Progressive Matrices :

  • You will be shown a series of patterns with one piece missing. Your task is to find the missing piece that completes the pattern.
  • You will have six or eight options to choose from. Only one option is correct. The other options are designed to distract you or test your ability to avoid common errors.
  • You should work as quickly and accurately as possible. There is no time limit, but your score will be based on both the number of correct answers and the time taken to complete the test.
  • You should mark your answer on the answer sheet provided. You can use a pencil or a pen, but make sure your mark is clear and unambiguous. Do not make any other marks on the answer sheet.
  • You should not use any other materials or aids, such as calculators, rulers, or paper. The test is designed to measure your mental ability, not your knowledge or skills.
  • You should not skip any items or go back to change your answers. The test is arranged in order of difficulty, so you should try to solve each item before moving on to the next one. If you are unsure of an answer, you should make your best guess and move on.
  • You should not spend too much time on any one item. .

Procedure for the standard progressive matrices (SPM) 
You will be given an answer sheet and a booklet containing the test items. You should not open the booklet until you are told to do so. You should also not write anything on the booklet or tear any pages from it.
– When you are ready to start the test, you will be told to open the booklet and begin with the first set of items (Set A). You should work through the items in order, from left to right and from top to bottom. You should not skip any items or go back to change your answers.
You should work as quickly and accurately as possible. There is no time limit, but your score will be based on both the number of correct answers and the time taken to complete the test.
– When you finish a set of items, you will be told to move on to the next set. You will have to complete five sets in total (A, B, C, D, and E).
– When you finish the last set of items, you will be told to close the booklet and return it along with the answer sheet. You should not keep any copies of the test materials or share them with anyone. Your answers will be scored and your results will be reported to you or your authorized representative.

Scoring of Standard Progressive Matrices :

Scoring for the SPM test is straightforward. Test-takers receive one point for each correctly solved matrix within a set. The raw scores can be used to calculate the total number of correct answers across all sets or to assess performance within individual sets. The total score should be covert into percentile as per their gender. Then the percentile should be convert into Grades and grades has its own interpretations.

Interpretation Standard Progressive Matrices :

The SPM test results are typically converted into standard scores or percentile ranks to compare an individual’s performance with a normative sample of test-takers. Higher scores indicate a stronger aptitude for abstract reasoning and problem-solving. The results can be used for educational placement, cognitive assessment, and employment selection.

Advantages of the Standard Progressive Matrices :

  • Non-verbal: The SPM is not affected by language barriers, making it suitable for individuals from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
  • Culture-free: The SPM does not rely on culturally specific knowledge or skills, making it a relatively fair measure of intelligence across different cultures.
  • Reliable: The SPM has been shown to be a reliable measure of intelligence, with consistent results across different administrations.
  • Valid: The SPM has been shown to correlate with other measures of intelligence and to predict academic and occupational success.

Limitations of the Standard Progressive Matrices :

  • Limited scope: The SPM does not assess all aspects of intelligence, such as creativity, verbal fluency, and social intelligence.
  • Practice effects: Individuals who have taken the SPM previously may perform better on subsequent administrations.
  • Cultural bias: The SPM may be biased against individuals from certain cultures, particularly those with less exposure to abstract patterns and problem-solving tasks.

Overall, the SPM is a valuable tool for assessing fluid intelligence and has been used extensively in research and clinical practice. While it has some limitations, it remains one of the most widely used and respected intelligence tests in the world.


Raven, J. C. (1936). Raven Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM)

Raven, J., Raven, J. C., & Duncan, J. (1988). A manual for Raven’s Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary Scales. Oxford: Oxford Psychologists Press.

Raven, J. C., Raven, J., & Hofer, M. A. (1998). Manual for Raven’s Progressive Matrices. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.

Standard Progressive Matrices | SpringerLink.
Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test –
Guide to using the Coloured Progressive Matrices. – APA PsycNet.
Standard Progressive Matrices | SpringerLink.

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