Skip Navigation

Spatial Test Battery (STB)

    About the STB


Does your child have a special ability for visualizing how objects look from different angles? Understand how complex systems operate? Readily remember faces, objects, or interesting designs? Prefer visual images and graphic displays over text?

Answering yes to one or more of these questions may mean a child has a high level of spatial ability. CTY’s Spatial Test Battery (STB), given via computer at hundreds of locations around the United States, can help characterize child’s ability in this potentially useful and academically important skill area.

Benefits of taking the STB

Taking the STB can:

  • identify a previously unrecognized talent, one that is not assessed by most standardized tests.
  • provide a more comprehensive profile of your child’s cognitive abilities when combined with scores from assessments of verbal and mathematical ability.
  • help you and your child make decisions about educational and career choices, such as choosing a college major or considering possible careers.
  • offer your child the opportunity to be recognized at a CTY award ceremony for high-scoring students in grades 5-8.
  • allow your child to become eligible for CTY’s summer and online math and science courses. 

Spatial Ability

What Is Spatial Ability?

Spatial ability is a collection of skills that allow us to reason about and interact with the world. These skills include the ability to:

  • understand and remember the spatial relationships among objects
  • imagine what objects look like from different viewpoints
  • visualize how separate parts of complex physical systems interrelate
  • effectively recall and recreate images and sequences of images

Spatial abilities appear to be fundamental to learning and distinct from verbal and mathematical forms of intellectual talent. Having strong spatial skills can contribute to success in mathematics, natural sciences, engineering, architecture, and many other fields of study. 

Performing laparoscopic or robotic surgery, visualizing the structure of complex molecules in chemistry, understanding a building from its interior and exterior, or piloting high-speed aircraft—these all require spatial ability. Such talent will continue to be in demand as technology drives many of tomorrow’s jobs in fields such as medicine, physics, engineering, mathematics, finance, and more.

Test Format

The STB is given at all of the hundreds of Prometric Testing Centers around the world. This is not an open test; families must have an eligibility number given to them by CTY to call Prometric and schedule a test.


The computerized STB contains four subtests:

  • Visual Memory
  • Surface Development
  • Block Rotation
  • Perspectives (only included for 7th grade and above)

All four sections open with a tutorial so the student knows how to proceed. There is also a general tutorial that explains how to use the computer and the overall layout of the test.

Within the subtests, easy tasks come first and more difficult tasks later. All items are multiple choice, and each item has only one correct solution. Students may also skip tasks within a subtest and go back to change an answer. Once a subtest is exited, however, it can’t be re-entered to change answers. Before starting the test, the student will be asked several background questions. The data collected from these questions will be used for informational purposes and will have no effect on the STB score.

Timing and Questions

The actual time a student needs to take the Spatial Test Battery (STB) varies greatly according to whether or not the Perspectives subtest is given, the time needed to complete the tutorials, and whether subtests are completed in less than the allotted time. Keep in mind that speed is not necessarily indicative of overall performance. Some 5th and 6th  graders manage to take the Spatial Test Battery in less than half an hour. For students in grades seven and above, testing times of more than one-and-a-half hours are the exception. Prometric will schedule you for two hours, but the test will not take this long.


  • Each sub-test is timed separately. A screen timer shows the time remaining as students work through the items.
  • Some of the test questions are experimental and will not count toward the student's score.
  • Counting items are items that will count towards the final score on the assessment. Students will also be presented with experimental or pilot items that will not be counted.
 5th and 6th Graders7th Graders and older
Number of QuestionsTime AllowedNumber of QuestionsTime Allowed

General Tutorial


15 minutes


15 minutes

Visual Memory: Memorization Phase Instructions Tutorial


3 minutes


3 minutes

Visual Memory: Memorization Phase Viewing of Shapes

17 Shapes to memorize-
No questions to answer

8 minutes

22 Shapes to memorize-
No questions to answer

8 minutes

Surface Development: Tutorial


4 minutes


4 minutes

Surface Development: Exam

30 -- 6 Pairs of shapes and boxes with 5 questions for each pair

(20 counting items)

12 minutes

30 -- 6 Pairs of shapes and boxes with 5 questions for each pair

(20 counting items)

12 minutes

Block Rotation: Tutorial


5 minutes


5 minutes

Block Rotation: Exam

20 (18 counting)

12 minutes

20 (18 counting)

9 minutes

Visual Memory Recall Phase: Repeated Instructions


2 minutes


2 minutes

Visual Memory Recall Phase: Exam

17 (15 counting)

8 minutes

20 (18 counting)

8 minutes

Perspectives: Tutorial

Not given to 5th and 6th graders

Not given to 5th and 6th graders


6 minutes

Perspectives: Exam

Not given to 5th and 6th graders

Not given to 5th and 6th graders

22 (20 counting)

19 minutes


65 (53 counting)

40 minutes (69 with tutorials)

92 (76 counting)

56 minutes (91 with tutorials)

Sample Items

Below are links to sample items for each of the STB subtests. The solutions to these sample items can be found at the bottom of each web page section. Depending on your screen resolution setting, you may not be able to see all appropriate images on your screen at the same time. You may want to print the pages and then try the sample items.

1. Visual Memory Subtest: Learning Phase

In the Visual Memory Subtest, there are two parts. The first part is the Visual Memory: Learning Phase, in which you will have to memorize a number of irregular shapes, parts of which are blackened. The second part is the Visual Memory: Recall Phase, which you will see about 30 minutes later, after completing two other subtests. In the Visual Memory: Recall Phase, you will need to identify the shapes you memorized during the Learning Phase. The items will be presented in the Recall phase as sets of identically shaped figures with different blackened parts. These could be some of the shapes you have to memorize:


Later in the Spatial Test Battery, the same shape will be presented among different, though similar, figures. See below for examples for the Recall Phase. Remember that you will have to complete two other subtests before you are presented with the Recall Phase to identify the shapes you memorized earlier.

2. Surface Development Subtest

In the Surface Development Subtest, you will see irregular, flat shapes, such as pieces of paper or cardboard, and boxes created by folding these shapes; it will be your task to find out which lines on the flat shapes correspond to lines on the boxes. In the flat shapes, like the ones shown below, the solid lines indicate the edges of the shape, and the dashed lines show you where it can be folded. An arrow on each flat shape and the respective box will help you identify the orientation of the box relative to the shape.

Video: How the pattern folds to form the box


Rotating images will only be available during the tutorial–not during the actual test.

In the sample tasks below, try to find out what letter(s) on the boxes correspond to each of the five numbers on the flat shapes.


3. Block Rotation Subtest

This subtest measures your ability to mentally rotate blocks in space. In the Block Rotation subtest, you will see blocks of different shapes, with cubes, cylinders, and other objects on them. In the examples below, you see six images. The image in the upper left-hand corner shows the model block. One of the five images labeled A through E also shows the model block, but rotated in space. The remaining images show a different block, rotated to various positions in space. Your task is to choose from the images labeled A through E the image that shows the model block rotated in space.

Video: How the block looks as it rotates to different positions

Rotating images will be available during the tutorial only–not during the actual test.

Here are six sample tasks:









4. Visual Memory Subtest: Recall Phase

In the Visual Memory: Recall Phase, you will have to remember images that you memorized during the Visual Memory: Learning Phase. Keep in mind that the Recall Phase occurs approximately 30 minutes after the Learning Phase. Take a moment to remember the shapes from Visual Memory: Learning Phase. Can you pick them out in the examples below? Note that these shapes will be presented only after you have completed the Surface Development subtest and the Block Rotation subtest. This is how the shapes will be presented later among other figures:







As you see, in the Learning Phase of this subtest, it is not important to memorize the order of the shapes or where they appear on the screen. The task is to memorize the contours of the shapes and where they are blackened. In the actual test, you will have to memorize 22 shapes (15 shapes if you are a 5th- or 6th-grader). Use all of the time allotted wisely. Students who spend more time memorizing do better on the Recall Phase!

5. Perspectives Subtest

Note: 5th- and 6th- graders do not take the Perspectives Subtest.

As you move around in the real world, you see many different viewpoints or perspectives of the same objects and scenes. This test will measure your ability to imagine how things look from different perspectives.

In this test, you will see spheres that move together as a group. Throughout the items, these spheres will be two different shades of gray, light and dark. All spheres are the same size. Spheres that appear larger and closer to you, and spheres that appear smaller and farther away. Note that some spheres may be hidden behind those that you see.

Look at the example below, showing the FRONT view of the group of spheres:


If you imagine walking around this group of spheres or imagine the group rotating as a whole, you could see it from other perspectives. For instance, you might see it from the LEFT or from the RIGHT as indicated below:


The following examples will show you four of the perspective changes that occur in the test.

Below, Picture #1 shows the FRONT view of the group of spheres. Picture #2 shows the same group after a 90-degree rotation (RIGHT view).

Perspective Test 1

Video: How the group rotates 90 degrees from the FRONT view (Picture #1) to the RIGHT view (Picture #2)


The following images show the opposite rotation, resulting in the LEFT view.


Video: Watch this rotation


The following images show the vertical 90-degree rotation that ends in the view of the group of spheres from above (ABOVE view).


Video: Watch this rotation

The last example shows the 90-degree rotation that ends in the view of the group of spheres from below (BELOW view).


Video: Watch this rotation

In the test, you will see more groups of spheres. In every problem, you will see two pictures of the same group. Picture #1 will always show the FRONT view. Your task will be to figure out whether Picture #2 is the view from the RIGHT, from the LEFT, from ABOVE, from BELOW, or from BEHIND. (The BEHIND view is not shown in the movies above).
If you still have time, you may go back and practice the rotations.

All images in the actual test will be static. Rotating images will be shown only in the tutorial preceding the test. Here are six sample questions.








Surface Development Answers

  • Item 1: 1=B 2=H 3=E 4=H 5=J
  • Item 2: 1=H 2=G 3=H 4=D 5=A
  • Item 3: 1=L 2=A 3=O 4=E 5=B
  • Item 4: 1=V 2=I 3=O 4=C 5=X

Block Rotation Answers

  • Item 1=A
  • Item 2=B
  • Item 3=A
  • Item 4=C
  • Item 5=E
  • Item 6=C
  • Item 7=C
  • Item 8=D

Perspectives Answers

  • Item 1=Left
  • Item 2=Above
  • Item 3=Right
  • Item 4=Below
  • Item 5=Above
  • Item 6=Below

Visual Memory Answers

  • Item 1=E
  • Item 2=A
  • Item 3=C
  • Item 4=B
  • Item 5=D
  • Item 6=B

Testing Tips

  • Don’t panic, even if you don’t have a clue. Remember, this is a test designed only for students who participate in the CTY Talent Search. The test is meant to be challenging.
  • If you start to panic, try to relax. Close your eyes for a few seconds and concentrate on your breathing.
  • Review the sample items by clicking on the tab above.
  • If you get stuck on a question, go ahead and take your best guess. You must answer each question before you move to the next question, so don’t spend too much time on any one question. In multiple-choice questions, eliminate the obviously wrong choices first, then, carefully consider the remaining ones.
  • Unlike other tests, there is no break during the STB.
  • On the STB there is no penalty for wrong answers, so guessing is OK. Items are of equal value, so the more correct answers you give, the higher your score. If you find you don’t have enough time to finish, take the last minute in each subsection and take guesses to make sure you finish each subsection.
  • If time permits, use the Previous button and go back and check your answers.
  • Many students do not use the full eight minutes allowed for the Visual Memory: Memorization Phase. Students who use more time to memorize the shapes score higher on the Visual Memory: Recall Phase. You will need to complete two other sub-tests before you are asked to recall the images.
  • Finally, be confident, and good luck!

Register to Test

You must first register with CTY to obtain an eligibility number before you can register to test. If you are a student in grades 5-8 and have already applied to the current academic year Talent Search, you are eligible to take the STB. To obtain your seven-digit eligibility number log in to your MyCTY account. You may also call CTY at 410-735-6278 or email (include child's name and address). The eligibility number must be used before June 30, 2021. Students may take the STB two times during any single academic year. 

Note: Special testing accommodations are available for students with disabilities. Please visit the Disabilities web page for more information.