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How to Use 3-2 Rule in Non Verbal Reasoning

Why Middle of Sequence questions seem tough.

If you’re taking HPAT this year and you took a stab at HPAT practice papers from ACER or any other source, you may get the idea that Middle of Sequence is the toughest of all section 3 questions. Don’t feel alienated as many HPAT candidates share your feelings in and out of the exam hall. Middle of Sequence can be a bit tough if you’ve difficulty visualising shapes, patterns and their changeover mentally.

Unlike the other two types of non-verbal reasoning questions, middle of sequence is all the more challenging because not only you’ve to identify the various changes happening in the sequence, you’ve to grasp the pecking order of the alterations as well.

Only then you can pick the snapshot which comes halfway through the sequence. Ideally, this is how you should solve these problems, i.e., observe the changes in the pattern, create a continuity and then pick the figure that would logically- and simply- fit into the centre of the sequence.

How to Solve Middle of Sequence questions faster

Some timesavers can really get you to the fore during the exam day. But you cannot soak up these tricks at the drop of a hat. You’ve to develop these skills over time through practice. 3-2 rule is one such timesaving technique that comes very handy when you have to quickly eliminate some of the options. 3-2 rule is the method of identifying such pairs in the series of five figures which are very close to one another with respect to properties of one or a combination of some of the elements in the figures. This common property shared by the two figures won’t be present in the other 3 figures of the series.

You can easily rule out the pair and try to find the sequence in the other three figures as one of them will be the middle of the sequence. In most of the middle of the sequences 3-2 rule can eliminate at least two incorrect options and increase the probability of success from 20% (1 out of 5) to 33% (1 out of 3). But it may not be applicable to cases that don’t have a repeatable pattern.

What is 3-2 Rule

To understand the 3-2 rule, imagine a pendulum bob swaying to and fro. At the central position, the pendulum string is perfectly vertical and the height of the pendulum bob is the least from the ground. For any other position of the bob, there will be a corresponding position on the other side of the sway which is at the same height. You may’ve been taught in the science classes that when the height of the bob is the same for any two positions, the speed is also the same. At both the highest points the velocity becomes zero. But at the centre, the bob is swaying at the maximum speed. So, you know that the speed and the height is unique only for the centre, while for every other position there is a corresponding position on the opposite side which has the same values for height and speed.

Sample Middle of Sequence question worked out using 3-2 rule

 Similarly, if a pair of figures in the sequence has the same properties as the same position or orientation of an element that is shifting around the available space inside the box, you know immediately that none of them is the middle of the sequence. That leaves you to pick the middle from any of the remaining three figures. All you’ve to do now is to sort out a sequence from these three and later fit in the other two into the series that you get.


Piece of cake, right?

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