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What Is the PI Cognitive Assessment?

The PI Cognitive Assessment, formerly known as PLI or Predictive Index Learning Indicator, consists of 50 questions to answer in 12 minutes. Your task will be to answer as many questions correctly as possible within the time limit. Question topics include numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning.

To learn more about the PI Cognitive Assessment, feel free to watch the following video:



What Does the PI Cognitive Assessment Assess?

The PI Cognitive Assessment Test is often confused with an IQ test. While an IQ test measures intelligence, the PI Cognitive test analyses your ability to both understand and grasp new concepts as they pertain to the workplace. By assessing your numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning, your future employer will better ascertain how you make decisions, how quickly you learn, and how you can adapt from role to role or situation to situation. 

PI Cognitive Assessment Test Format (Formerly PLI)


12-minute time frame
- Running clock on the right side of the screen

50 questions in a multiple choice format
- 5 questions will be displayed on each page


Calculators are not permitted during the test


Exam results are revealed immediately upon the completion of the test



note  Note:  This test is known by many names, which can be a bit confusing.

Other than the name "PLI', the test's formal name is "PI Cognitive Assessment." Previously, it was called "PI LI" and "Professional Learning Indicator".

But to make things clear - all these names refer to the same cognitive ability test produced by the Predictive Index assessment company.

Be sure not to confuse this psychometric test with Predictive Index's personality test - generally referred to as "PI Test" or "Predictive Index Test".


PI Cognitive Assessment Test Topics

The test is made-up of 3 primary categories:

1) Numerical Reasoning 2) Verbal Reasoning 3) and Non-Verbal Reasoning or Abstract Reasoning. Each category includes additional subcategories.

You can find more information about each of these categories and sample questions further down this page.


PI Cognitive Assessment Sample Questions (Formerly PLI)

Feel free to jump to the section about the question type that interests you most:

1) PLI Numerical Reasoning
2) PLI Verbal Reasoning
3) PLI Abstract Reasoning (Non-verbal)


PLI test numerical reasoning question samples

 Numerical Reasoning: 

This section of the PI Cognitive Assessment is used to evaluate how you approach and solve a variety of math-based questions. Question types in this section include number series, math problems, and word problems.

1) Number series - These questions test how well you can identify and continue a numerical sequence. You will be required to find the missing digit/s or find the next digit in a series.

2) Math Problems - The math problems presented here are based on the 4 basic operations of arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Questions in this section include fractions, decimals, rounding numbers, averages and basic geometry.

3) Word Problems - Being text-based, word problems force you to reach a solution without the use of visual aids such as charts and graphs.

To solve math word problems, you must understand how to translate words into mathematical equations.

Sample Question 1: Math Problems (Ratios)

The ratio between yellow flowers and red flowers at the shop was 3:2, if there were 8 red flowers how many of the flowers were yellow?

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is 12

In order to calculate the amount of yellow flowers we can create an equation between the ratio and the real amounts of flowers, letting the amount of yellow flowers be X:




Sample Question 2: Word Problems

A shop owner bought some shovels for £5,500. The shovels were sold for £7,300, with a profit of £50 per shovel. How many shovels were involved?

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is 36

The total profit from the sale is the selling price minus the cost of purchase, which is £7300-£5500=£1800.

If the total profit is £1800 and each shovel made £50 profit, the amount of shovels is 1800/50=36.

Sample Question 3: Number Series

What is the following number in the series:
8 / 3 / 9 / 10 /17 / ?

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is (D)

This series is a variation of the famous Fibonacci sequence: each term equals the sum of the two previous terms minus 2.

9 = (8+3) - 2
10 = (3+9) - 2
17 = (9+10) - 2

Therefore, the following number is:
(10+17) - 2 = 25



PLI test verbal reasoning question samples

 Verbal Reasoning:



This question type assesses your reading and writing skills . In this section expect to solve questions concerning antonyms, analogies, and verbal logic.


1) Antonyms - Each question will feature a single word accompanied by a list of words. You must choose the word that means the opposite of the single word.

2) Analogies - Here you will be asked to find the relationship between different sets of words.

Example: As day is to night, so too is breakfast to (___). The answer would be "dinner."

3) Formal Logic - These questions are designed to test your ability to understand, analyze, evaluate and draw logical conclusions from lists of statements. Some of the best examples of verbal logic questions include syllogisms and seating arrangements.

Sample Question 1: Antonyms

Assent is the opposite of...

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is "Refusal"

Assent means 'compliance', so the antonym is refusal. 

Agreement is a synonym. Climb and cooperation are not related.

Climb and cooperation are not related.

Therefore, the correct answer is refusal.


Sample Question 2: Analogies

COACH is to TEAM as CONDUCTOR is to:

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is (C)

A COACH is the manager of a group of people in the field of sports which is called a TEAM.

A CONDUCTOR is the manager of a group of musicians which is called an ORCHESTRA.

Sample Question 3: Formal Logic

Assumptions: Neither Charles nor Donna likes to play tennis. Eric likes to play chess.
Conclusion: Eric does not like to play tennis.

If the assumptions are true, is the conclusion:

A) Correct
B) Incorrect
C) Cannot be determined

Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is: "Cannot be determined"

According to the first assumption, neither Charles nor Donna likes to play tennis. According to the second assumption, Eric likes to play chess. However, no information is provided about whether Eric does not like to play tennis.

Therefore, "Cannot be determined" is the correct answer, based on the information.



pi cognitive assessment non-verbal-abstract reasoning sample questions

 Abstract Reasoning:


In this section of the test you will find questions for 3 different aspects of non-verbal reasoning, including spatial, logical and inductive.

In general, you should expect to answer questions in which you decipher and complete image patterns as well as mentally manipulate images.


The PLI non-verbal reasoning questions are split into 3 types:

1) Visual Series – Similar to the number series questions, visual series questions present a sequence of images which follow some sort of pattern.

You are required to identify the pattern in order to determine which image continues the pattern.

2) Visual Analogies – Similar to verbal analogy questions, visual analogy questions include a pair of images with a specific relationship, followed by a third image.

Again, you are asked to choose the image that has the same relationship with the third image as the second image doe to the first.

3) Common Features – Lastly, in this type of question you will be shown two images that have a certain feature or characteristic in common.

Your task will be to find the image that shares the same feature with the first two.

Sample Question 1: Visual Series

Choose the image (from the bottom row) that continues the pattern:

PLI test sample question non verbal visual series
Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is:

pli test sample question non verbal visual series - answer

The logic: The next frame after each step portrays a mirror image of the previous frame.

In addition, every two steps a shape is added to the frame.

Answer choice 3 is a mirrored version of 5th frame in the series and is therefore the correct answer.

Sample Question 2: Visual Analogies

pli test sample question non verbal visual analogies
Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is:

pli test sample question non verbal visual analogies answer

The relationship between figure X and figure Y is as follows: Each line that appears only in one shape in figure X also appears in figure Y.

Lines that appear in both shapes in figure X do not appear in figure Y.

The correct answer must have the same relationship with figure Z.

Answer 1 can be eliminated as it includes the vertical and horizontal lines cutting the rectangle into fourths which are shared by both shapes in figure Z.

Answer 2 can be eliminated as horizontal line cutting the rectangle in half is shared by both shapes in figure Z.

Answer 3 can be eliminated as it includes every line in the two shapes in figure Z.

Answers 4 can be eliminated as the vertical line cutting the rectangle in half is shared by both shapes in figure Z.

We are left with answer 5.

This is the correct answer, as each line within the rectangle which is exclusive to one of the shapes appears in figure Z, while the lines which are shared by the two shapes in figure Z do not appear.

Sample Question 3: Common Features
The 2 top figures share a common feature. 1 of the 4 bottom figures does NOT possess this feature.

Which of the 4 options does NOT share the common feature?

pli test sample question non verbal Common Features
Answer & Explanation

✓ The correct answer is:

pli test sample question non verbal Common Features - answer

The logic: All the shapes, aside from the second option, have at least 1 pair of parallel sides.


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PI Cognitive Assessment Test Expert Tips

1) Put accuracy over quantity:

In other words, it's more important to answer more questions correctly than just going for the greatest amount of questions answered.

Look, answering 50 questions in 12 minutes is not an easy feat, which is why, in fact, hardly anyone manages to do so.

The bottom line is that you should only aspire to answer as many questions correctly as you can - and try not to worry about the questions you won't have time to answer.

Don't sweat it, you can still get a high score without answering every question on the test.


2) When you don't know the answer - guess:

The PI Cognitive Assessment test has no negative marking. This means you don't lose points if you get a question wrong (your score is only made up of all the questions you got right).

For this reason, it is recommended not to leave questions blank. If you get stuck too long on a hard question, or you have no immediate solving course of action, take your best guess and move on to the next question.


3) Skip the hard questions and deal with the easy ones first:

On the Professional Learning Indicator test you can choose to skip questions and go back to solve them later.

You can use this leniency to maximize your correct answers by skipping over the question types you're most weak at and answering first the questions about which you feel most confident. 

Instead of going by order and “missing out” on easy questions near the end of the test - this trick allows you to collect more correct answers with the time you have, and spend any remaining time trying to earn extra from the harder questions.


4) Don't be tempted to cheat and use a calculator:

The exam does not allow the use of  a calculator. While you are likely to take the test unsupervised you should still abide by this instruction.

There are 2 reasons for this apart from general fairness and honesty: 

I) The test presents you with fairly simple math questions that don't really require a calculator and are better (faster) addressed using mental arithmetic and basic logic.

II) Some employers may choose to give you an additional small assessment under supervision to correlate your performance as they observe it to that on your home assessment. 

*A noticeable difference in performance can flag you as a cheat - a label that can stay with you through future job applications that use the PI Cognitive Assessment.

This leads us to our next tip...


5) Sharpen your mental math:

Brush up on your addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals (we cover all these in the systematic guides included in our PLI test prep pack).

Make sure you can make simple calculations in your mind or with scrap paper or using mental arithmetic (Math-trainer is a cool tool strengthen your mental muscle).


6) Improve your vocabulary:

Antonyms and word analogy questions require you to know the meanings of words. While context and elimination can help, knowing what the word means is best.

Flipping though a dictionary, doing crossword puzzles or taking vocabulary quizzes can broaden your vocabulary and sharpen your mind.


7) Simplify Abstract Reasoning questions by concentrating on a single feature at a time:

In the inductive (abstract) section of the test you'll be tasked with figuring out the patterns and relationships - some of questions you may find hard to crack.

When this happens, look at the following features, see how they change through the sequence and attempt to discern a logical rule:

⟶ Colors
⟶ Shapes
⟶ Location
⟶ Rotation
⟶ Movement
⟶ Direction

If you can’t see the pattern at a glance, pick one feature on which to concentrate, and look for change from which to conclude a rule.

If you can’t find anything, move to the next feature.


8) Use elimination to reduce answer options:

Before you start calculating or thinking too hard, take a look at the answer options and see if you can find any obviously wrong answers to eliminate. Sometimes it's easier to recognize the wrong answers than the right one.

For instance, if a math question asks for an average, you should be able to see a couple of solutions which are outside the realm of possible answers.

PI Cognitive Assessment Test Score Explained

The test has 3 types of scores:

1) Raw Score - The raw score represents the total number of correct answers. The average raw score ranges from 17-23.  However, you can assume the population’s average PLI score is 20 correct answers out of a possible 50.

Your goal is to score above this average in order to be considered for the role you have applied for.

2) Percentile Score - The percentile score measures how you competed against similarly qualified candidates.  If you ended up in the 65th percentile, it means you did better than 65% of candidates taking the same test.

3) Sub-Score - Your score will be broken down into sub-scores according to the test sub-categories: verbal, non-verbal, and numerical reasoning.


The target score you need to strive for depends on the specific post for which you are being processed. So there is no general pass score. 

From experience we know that only the top 20-15% get to continue with the selection process, so to be on the safe side you should do whatever you can to get an 80th percentile score or above.

note  Note:  There is no “negative scoring”. This mean that you will not be penalized for wrong answers. So, it is important to mark every single answer, as this can help boost your score.

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Why do employers use the PLI test?

The overall purpose of the test is to provide the employer with a broad holistic evaluation of the cognitive capacity of incoming job applicants.

The test aims to reveal how your brain functions in terms of attention, speed, memory, and visualization.

These skills are necessary to ensure that you are capable of handling certain roles and their complexities.

How many people other than me take the PLI test?

Over 7,600 people look to us for PI Cognitive Assessment practice material every month from all around the world.

We also know that the test is accessible in over 70 languages and is offered in over 50 countries worldwide.

So... we can safely assume that about 5 times the people that come to us actually take the test. Maybe around 35,000 every month. 

This is good news, because only the a 5th of test-takers take the time to prepare, and that gives them a huge advantage in test performance over their competition that decided to just wing it.


Is the PLI test hard?

The PLI is a standard Cognitive Ability Test and isn't considered especially difficult in this category. 

However, cognitive ability tests are designed to be challenging, and the PI Cognitive Assessment is no exception.

The challenge lies in the test's format, which requires you to answer a large amount of questions in a very limited time span.

The challenge is staying calm and not sacrificing accuracy for speed (i.e. answering quickly but incorrectly).

We have helped tens of thousands of job seekers before you to prepare for this type of test, and we can help you too!

Check out our tailored PLI practice pack if you're serous about preparing.

Does the test score indicate my IQ level?

The PI Cognitive Assessment test does not test your IQ level.

Its purpose is to check your adaptability and assess your ability to handle complex problems deemed necessary for certain jobs.

What does the PI Learning Indicator measure?

The test measures your ability to do the following:

  • Understand complex ideas
  • Adapt effectively to a new environment
  • Learn from experience
  • Reason
  • Overcome obstacles

The PI Cognitive Assessment is backed by science and meets the standards of both the APA (American Psychological Association) and the SIOP (Society of Industrial & Organizational Psychology).

Don't disregard the challenge this test represents - it may not be fun, but you may learn a lot about yourself from the process.

Where and how will I take the test?

You will most likely receive an email with a link to a PI Learning Indicator online testing platform containing instructions for your specific test.

Some employers choose to conduct the test in a controlled environment at their offices or at a testing center. 

If you have to take the test at a testing center, you'll be notified and given a date and location.

Can I improve my score on the PLI test?

Yes you can, and you should. After all, your future employment depends on it.

The test provider, PI Learning Indicator, discuses the benefits of preparation on its website:

"Experience shows that if someone is used to these types of assessments, he or she will be able to get consistently closer to his or her ‘capacity’ or maximum score.

In other words, it is actually ideal when an assessment taker is trained or familiar with the PI Learning Indicator item types, as it gives the company the best possible insight into the candidate’s true potential."

You can reach your full capacity within just a few days  by preparing with our specially tailored PLI test simulations and practice drills

This way, by the time you do the test you'll be very familiar with the questions and format.

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Predictive Index Test

If you have been asked to take the PI Cognitive Assessment, you may also be required to take PI's behavioral assessment called Predictive Index Test.

Find out more about the PI Behavioral Assessment, how it works, and what your different scores say about you by clicking the above link.


Professional Learning Indicator, Predictive Index, and other trademarks are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are affiliated with JobTestPrep or this website.
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