CASA stands for Comprehensive Assessment of Spatial Ability. It is an assessment designed to measure visualisation skills and mental manipulation. It exists online format only, but many parts are based off old spatial tasks performed on paper. The test is intended to fill the dearth of accessible spatial tests and to allow talented individuals to discover their ability.

It has a large range of values, accurately measuring spatial IQ scores from 70 to 170. It features four subtests that assess different areas of spatial ability. The average total testing time is around 20 minutes, but can take less or more time depending on the score. The CASA has strong predictive capabilities for sporting performance, as well as achievements in STEM occupations.


ANVA stands for Assessment of Non-Verbal Ability. It is designed to measure an individual's overall IQ score. It is comprised of 1 battery containing 34 questions. The questions are non-verbal in nature. In this aspect, the ANVA is similar to matrix tests. However, matrix tests rely on reasoning to extrapolate a score of general intelligence, while the ANVA directly tests reasoning, memory and spatial ability. Furthermore, the questions are highly creative and variable. This ensures that the ANVA is less vulnerable to the effects of education, while also engaging the user.

The ANVA measures scores from 50 to 165, and takes 10 minutes.

Unique test features

Both the ANVA and the CASA are unique because they utilize innovative features that have the potential to transform online testing, and the entire field intelligence research.

Layered scoring system. Some subtests will still award points for incorrect answers that are close. This allows for a more detailed and accurate assessment.

Novelty of items and batteries. A certain level of novelty is required for accurate testing, provided item quality remains high. Due to the obscurity of quality spatial tests, extremely few people have enough experience with these question types to inflate their results.

High ceiling. For most cognitive tests it is common to hit the ceiling, at least in more than one subtest, and restricting the user's potential score range. In the CASA it is almost impossible to hit the ceiling on more than one subtest, thereby removing any possible deflationary effects.

Break. The ANVA test features some mandatory breaks to give the user time to consolidate their learning of novel items.

Mandatory time setting. This ensures that everyone spends exactly the same amount of time on each question. This helps mitigate laziness or lapses in concentration which are common in online tests. It also nullifies the need for test-taking experience and time-management, which can advantage experienced users. Therefore non-skippable time limits increase test reliability by negating performance effect. Performance effect is the score discrepancies between users who focus hard and users who don't, and between users who are mentally fresh and users who are not. Removing these discrepancies greatly increases the overall consistency, which is compounded for each subtest result and culminates in a highly reliable cognitive test.

User-friendliness. The entire test is mobile-friendly, and there is no discrepancy in test performance between mobile and desktop users . Most subtests take an average of 5 minutes, and each can be completed at leisure. Instructions are straightforward and contain examples in image and GIF format to clarify the mental processes involved. Simple test-taking procedures and a responsive website facilitate peak test performance. The layout and function of website is designed to maximise focus and minimize distraction. Build-up is smooth as items are ordered by difficulty and carefully selected to avoid confusion. The build-up is important as "performance on non-arbitrary, evolutionarily familiar problems is more strongly related to general intelligence than performance on arbitrary, evolutionarily novel problems" (Kaufman et al., 2010). This is probably because it is more difficult to facilitate peak performance on novel problems. A smooth build-up solves this issue.

Discontinue technique. Each subtest will immediately end if too many incorrect answers are given, which does several things. Firstly, it saves time for users who do not always need to complete the whole test (unless they are of very high ability) .Secondly, and more importantly, it significantly reduces the inflationary effect of guessing, raising the reliability of the test . Thirdly, it means that test length is determined by individual ability, which is appropriate as interests are often related to strengths. Higher performing users are likely to be happy to spend more time on each subtest, as cognitive ability is strongly associated with intellectual engagement (Staff et al., 2018). There are negative effects of this format, including a low margin for error and a potential to misrepresent the user's true ability. These are well mitigated by having a threshold of incorrect answers. On a subtest there will be a buffer of allowing several incorrect answers without the test ending.

Due to these unique test features the CASA has a significant advantage over other cognitive tests that increase its accuracy and the ability to predict performance in an activity or occupation. Furthermore, due to its position as the world's best spatial test, the CASA has the potential to improve the field of cognitive testing by providing a thorough understanding of spatial ability. This is especially applicable in the context of uneven cognitive profiles, as is often seen in neurodivergent individuals who may have a strong spatial-tilt, or did not receive a nuanced approach to their learning that their condition necessitates.

  1. Kaufman, Scott Barry; DeYoung, Colin G.; Reis, Deidre L.; Gray, Jeremy R. (May–June 2010)."General intelligence predicts reasoning ability even for evolutionarily familiar content"(PDF).Intelligence. 39(5): 311–322.doi:10.1016/j.intell.2011.05.002.
  2. Staff, Roger & Hogan, Michael & Williams, Daniel & Whalley, Lawrence. (2018). Intellectual engagement and cognitive ability in later life (the "use it or lose it" conjecture): Longitudinal, prospective study. BMJ. 363. k4925. 10.1136/bmj.k4925.


Orientation: This is based on Hegarty and Waller's 2004 Spatial Orientation Test, originally performed on paper but has also been upgraded to a computerized version (outside the CASA). This test requires navigation skill, mental reorientation and angle judgment. The ability to award points for close answers provides a high degree of accuracy and is an important component in the assessment of the 'perspective taking' skill.

Rapid Rotation: This is based on the old Mental Rotations Test, but has been simplified to increase accuracy and internal consistency. All shapes are either congruent or mirrored - there are no structurally different shapes. Time limits are quite strict due to the simplistic nature of the questions and items are sorted by difficulty.

Viewpoints: This test is a recreation of Lipman's 2002 test, which was a recreation of Guay's Visualisation of Views test. Rather than object rotation, it relies on rotating one's own perspective. Viewpoints shows the most robust sex difference of all the subtests.

Figure Slicing: This test was inspired by the 2013 Santa Barbara Solids Test, which was a modern version of the Mental Cutting Test from 1971. The shapes are simpler than the MCT, and the questions more difficult than the SBST. Angles have been made clearer, and items are ordered by difficulty and complexity. Figure slicing tests show high test-retest effect.

  1. Caissie, André & Vigneau, Francois & Bors, Douglas. (2009). What does the Mental Rotation Test Measure? An Analysis of Item Difficulty and Item Characteristics. The Open Psychology Journal. 2. 94-102. 10.2174/1874350100902010094.
  2. Friedman, Alinda & Kohler, Bernd & Gunalp, Peri & Boone, Alexander & Hegarty, Mary. (2019). A computerized spatial orientation test. Behavior Research Methods. 52. 10.3758/s13428-019-01277-3.

Spatial ability

Spatial ability (or visuo-spatial ability) is the capacity to process relationships and adapt to stimuli within a spatial medium. It is largely a visual ability, although it also requires mentally visualising, as well as physically viewing, objects in space. Because of this, it is possible for visually impaired or blind persons to have strong innate spatial skills, with an inability to utilise it.

Visual-spatial abilities are used for everyday use from navigation, understanding or fixing equipment, understanding or estimating distance and measurement, physical coordination, and performing on a job. Spatial abilities are important for success in fields such as sports, driving, military and law enforcement, mathematics, natural sciences, construction and trade jobs, machinery tasks, engineering, architecture, economic forecasting, meteorology, IT, graphic design, musical performance, doctoring and surgery, chemistry and physics.

Spatial ability is distinct from reasoning ability, although the two are often combined into the fabricated description of 'spatial reasoning'. Reasoning can be purely conceptional and abstract, while spatial ability always features a representation of the physical realm in some form. It also always involves movement of some kind, whether it is mental manipulation, self-repositioning or motion tracking. Reasoning tests on the other hand can be purely static. The classic 1971 paper by Shephard and Metzler, whose work inspired the 1978 Mental Rotations Test by Vandenberg and Kuse, neatly explains this physical representation.

Because of this distinction between the two types of intelligence, spatial tests must be carefully designed to eliminate any form of reasoning. The best way to do this is to create questions that contain novel material and require a short time limit. This prevents any possibility of "thinking" about the correct solution, or using heuristics to estimate the answer, forcing the user to operate their spatial faculties. Spatial abilities of visualisation, repositioning and mental rotation can usually be performed quickly, as these are the skills that we used to rely on in life and death situations such as hunting and fighting., where there is usually not enough time to think. This is backed by reserach that found that individuals who do poorly on spatial–visualisation tests tend to be inaccurate and slow (Pellegrino et al., 1984), relative to those who are more facile in spatial visualisation. Thus spatial tests are usually shorter than other cognitive tests.

The CASA attempts to measure three specific spatial skill types within the overall domain of spatial ability: mental rotation, perspective taking and judging distance.

Mental rotation: this requires manipulation of an object in one's mind and is a core tennant of spatial ability. As mentioned above, mental rotation is tied directly to physical rotation. The further the distance an object must rotate, the longer it takes the user to mentally rotate it. Experts don't agree on what subtypes exist within spatial ability, as there is large overlap between them. Mental rotation also requires visualising accurate visualisations, if test-takers cannot generate high-quality images, they will also not be able to mentally transform them accurately (Lohman, 1988).

Perspective taking: this involves self-repositioning and visualisation of different viewpoints. Inferences of unseen shapes can be made based on these visualisations. It is distinct from mental rotation in that the object remains stationary while the viewer moves, a slightly less intuitive skill. Research shows these abilities overlap but nevertheless require some different areas of brain activity.

Judging distance: this involves visual processing capacity and the ability to manage multiple pieces of information. It is the least complex spatial skill and requires the lowest processing time. It is therefore heavily reliant on visual processing speed. It is a particularly useful skill in sporting environments.

Spatial ability can be improved, but like all skills that require practice, the effects are temporary if not maintained. Furthermore, the ability to increase one's score through practice does not nullify the accuracy of the original score and its underlying causes, nor the reliability of the cognitive tool.

  1. Dror, Itiel & Kosslyn, Stephen & Waag, Wayne. (1993). Visual-Spatial Abilities of Pilots. Journal of Applied Psychology. 78. 763-773. 10.1037/0021-9010.78.5.763.
  2. Faubert, J. (2013). Professional athletes have extraordinary skills for rapidly learning complex and neutral dynamic visual scenes. Sci Rep 3, 1154.
  3. Hegarty, Mary & Waller, David. (2004). Dissociation between mental rotation and perspective-taking spatial abilities. Intelligence. 32. 175-191. 10.1016/j.intell.2003.12.001.
  4. Kunishige, M., Miyaguchi, H., Fukuda, al. (2020). Spatial navigation ability is associated with the assessment of smoothness of driving during changing lanes in older drivers. J Physiol Anthropol 39, 25.
  5. Ozel, S., Larue, J., & Molinaro, C. (2004). Relation between sport and spatial imagery: comparison of three groups of participants. The Journal of psychology,138(1), 49–63.
  6. Shakeshaft, N., Rimfeld, K., Schofield, al. (2016). Rotation is visualisation, 3D is 2D: using a novel measure to investigate the genetics of spatial ability. Sci Rep 6, 30545.
  7. Shepard, R. N., & Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science (New York, N.Y.),171 (3972), 701–703.
  8. Tinella, L., Lopez, A., Caffò, A. O., Grattagliano, I., & Bosco, A. (2020). Spatial Mental Transformation Skills Discriminate Fitness to Drive in Young and Old Adults. Frontiers in psychology,11, 604762.
  9. Wang, Chunhui & Tian, Yu & Chen, Shanguang & Zhiqiang, Tian & Jiang, Ting & Du, Feng. (2014). Predicting performance in manually controlled rendezvous and docking through spatial abilities. Advances in Space Research. 53. 362–369. 10.1016/j.asr.2013.10.031.
  10. Wanzel KR, Hamstra SJ, Anastakis DJ, Matsumoto ED, Cusimano MD (2002). "Effect of visual-spatial ability on learning of spatially-complex surgical skills".Lancet. 359 (9302): 230–1.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)07441-X

Neglecting spatial ability

A 2013 paper by Kell and Lubinksi is titled Spatial Ability: A Neglected Talent in Educational and Occupational Settings. They found that "students especially talented in spatial visualisation relative to their status on mathematical and verbal reasoning are particularly likely to be underserved by our educational institutions." and that "what is needed is the incorporation of spatial ability into talent identification procedures and research on curriculum development and training". This means that it is possible for talented individuals to complete their secondary and tertiary education without understanding their own cognitive profile and preventing them from realising their potential.

  • Current assessment practices in education and industry lead to a substantial missed opportunity. Many spatially talented adolescents, for example, may never approach their full potential due to a lack of opportunities to develop their skills. A great loss occurs at talent searches that identify intellectually precocious young adolescents. Current talent search procedures focus on the assessment of mathematical and verbal ability, and many programs require scores within the top 1% to qualify (Colangelo et al., 2004). Most major talent searches do not include tests of spatial aptitude, however, and due to variability in specific ability profiles, these procedures exclude a large numbers of spatially gifted students. One recent estimate suggested over half: Wai et al. (2009), for example, estimated that only 30% of the top 1% in spatial ability also score within the top 1% in mathematical or verbal reasoning (Wai et al., 2009). Consequently, the vast majority of spatially talented young adolescents are being denied admittance to talent search programs. Going back in time, an example from Terman’s (1925–1959) longitudinal study of gifted youth (top 1% in individually administered IQ tests) is instructive. Terman used only the verbally oriented Stanford-Binet (Terman, 1916) test to identify participants, rather than separately assessing verbal and mathematical ability; unfortunately, two subsequent Nobel Laureates in Physics (Shockley and Alvarez) were measured and missed by Terman and his colleagues (Shurkin, 1992). Now that modern talent searches routinely utilize measures of mathematical and verbal reasoning for identification and selection, it is unlikely that they are missing many contemporary young adolescents like Alvarez and Shockley—but whether they are missing a modern-day Thomas Edison or Henry Ford is an open question.
  1. Kell, Harrison & Lubinski, David. (2013). Spatial Ability: A Neglected Talent in Educational and Occupational Settings. Roeper Review. 35. 219-230. 10.1080/02783193.2013.829896.
  2. Lubinski, David. (2010). Spatial ability and STEM: A sleeping giant for talent identification and development. Personality and Individual Differences. 49. 344-351. 10.1016/j.paid.2010.03.022.


Spatial ability in children predicts adult expertise in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and "including spatial ability in modern talent searches would identify many adolescents with potential for STEM who are currently being missed" (Wai et al., 2009). With modern technology becoming all-encompassing, STEM is the fastest growing industry in the world. It is by far the strongest contributor to innovation and scientific discovery and as a result is arguably the largest contributor to national economies. There are campaigns in every developed country to increase the amount of STEM graduates in order to keep up with rising jobs. Given the greater capacity to work from home for STEM jobs, it is most certainly the future. Given the rise of artificial intelligence in recent years, and the growing concern about the possible dangers, it is becoming more important to understand intelligence. Part of this includes being able to measure intelligence accurately, and up to a high range.

  • Workforce needs of the 21st century have raised a call worldwide for greater education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Yet, as more STEM students graduate, millions of STEM jobs in both developed and emerging countries are going unfilled.

Spatial ability is important in all STEM fields, especially engineering. Curiously, it is a critical element in mathmematical problem solving. While aspects of mathematics contain obvious spatial characteristics (geometry), spatial skills are found to be more important than logical reasoning ability even in mathematical word problems. This is due to the "mental blackboard" approach, that involves visualising mathmetical problems. Generally speaking, the better one is able to visualise problems, the faster they can solve them.

  1. Atkinson, Robert D., and Merrilea Mayo. 2010. “Refueling the U.S. Innovation Economy: Fresh Approaches to STEM Education.” The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: 1-178.
  2. Kramer, Mark R., Kate Tallant, Amanda Oudin Goldberger, and Flynn Lebus. (2015)."The Global STEM Paradox." Report, FSG.
  3. Wai, Jonathan & Lubinski, David & Benbow, Camilla. (2009). Spatial Ability for STEM Domains: Aligning Over 50 Years of Cumulative Psychological Knowledge Solidifies Its Importance. Journal of Educational Psychology. 10.1037/a0016127.
  4. Yu, Mingxin & Cui, Jiaxin & Wang, Li & Gao, Xing & Cui, Zhanling & Zhou, Xinlin. (2022). Spatial processing rather than logical reasoning was found to be critical for mathematical problem-solving. Learning and Individual Differences. 100. 102230. 10.1016/j.lindif.2022.102230.

Copyright© 2024.Privacy Policy.Disclaimer.