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STB Test (Spatial Test Battery)

What is the STB?

The Spatial Test Battery (STB) is a thorough assessment of visual-spatial ability that is used in conjunction with other tests to determine admissions to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Spatial visualization is a comprehensive ability that can be measured by students abilities in facial recognition, shape rotation, mental imagery and other spatial relationships; children who are visual-spatial learners often find it easier to learn through graphs, charts or other graphics than through text or listening. The four subtests of the STB are designed for children who demonstrate an interest in and or talent for, computers, graphic design and science. The STB is administered on computers at numerous locations around the United States.

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What is the STB Used For?

The STB is unique in that children take the exam for an array of different reasons, though all of involve assessing spatial intelligence or spatial reasoning. Some children take the exam with the goal of identifying a potential talent in visual-spatial learning. The test can also help students to decide on a college major or a career that highlights their strengths and passions. It may even give the child insight into the areas that they excel in, and those that they can continue to strengthen. The “Center for Talented Youth” (CTY) at Johns Hopkins provides high scoring students who are in grades 5 through 8 the opportunity to attend the in-person or online CTY programs, which are in depth academic opportunities covering a wide range of subjects.

What are the STB Subtests?

  • Visual memory (two sections)
  • Surface Development
  • Block Rotation
  • Perspectives (only included for students in 7th grade and above)

The exam is designed so that students complete the easier before moving onto the increasingly more difficult tasks. The test format is multiple choice, as there is only one correct response to each question. If the student is unaware of the correct answer he or she has the option of skipping the question. Later on, but while within the same subtest, he can return to complete the question. Once the student exits a subtest, he  can no longer complete nor change their answer to any questions within that subtest.

What Material is on the STB Subtests?

The following is a description of the four subtests that the student will complete on the STB test:

Visual Memory Subtest


During this part of the exam, students are required to memorize a series of irregular shapes. Parts of these shapes are filled in with black ink. The second part of the subtest is the Visual Memory: Recall phase. Students are typically presented with this phase 30 minutes later after they complete two other subtests. This delay is used as a means of truly testing their ability to recall the shapes that they had previously seen. It is important that the student focuses on memorizing the contours of the shapes as well as the areas that contain the black ink. On the exam, the student will have to remember 22 shapes, while 5th and 6th graders only have to memorize 15 shapes.


While this is part of the Visual Memory subtest, it usually occurs after Surface Development and Block Rotation. The student must recall the series of irregular images that they had memorized during the Visual Memory: Learning Phase.

Surface Development Subtest

During this subtest, the student will be presented with a series of irregular flat shapes resembling pieces of paper or cardboard cutouts. Next to the irregular shapes is an image of a box, formed by folding the flat shapes. It is the student’s job to discover which of the flat shapes correspond with the lines on the boxes. Specifically, the flat shapes should correspond to distinct lines on the box. In the flat shapes, the student will see both dotted and solid lines; the solid lines represent the edges of the shape, while the dotted lines demonstrate where the shape can be folded.

Block Rotation Subtest

The Block Rotation subtest tests the student’s ability to perform the mental rotation of a box in space. The student will be presented with a series of different shapes such as cubes, cylinders prisms and more. The student will typically be shown a series of six images. In the upper left hand corner the student will be shown the model block, or the one that will perform the rotation. The child has to choose the answer that demonstrates the object being rotated in space.

Perspectives Subtest

Fifth and sixth graders are not required to complete this subtest. This part of the test assesses the student’s understanding of how objects look from a series of different perspectives. The student will be presented with a group of light and dark spheres,.some appearing relatively larger or closer to the individual and some thatare smaller and farther away. The student will be presented with two pictures of the same group of spheres. The objective of the task is to determine whether picture number 2 is the view from the right or left, or from above, below or behind.

Important Testing Information

Although the sections are timed, it is important to recognize that speed does not reflect a student’s overall performance. The test is scheduled for two hours, but students do not usually need the entire allotted time. During the exam, each subtest is timed separately. On the screen, the student will be presented with a timer that shows the remaining time. Some of the questions on the test do not count towards the student’s final score, as they are experimental questions. These items are used more for statistical purposes. Still, it is critical that the student paces him or herself throughout the entirety of the exam.

Subtests + Tutorials5th and 6th Graders: Time allowed7th Graders and Older: Time Allowed
General Tutorial15 min15 min
Questionnaire4 min4 min
Visual Memory: Memorization Phase Instructions3 min3 min
Visual Memory: Memorization Phase Viewing of Shapes8 min8 min
Surface Development: Tutorial4 min4 min
Surface Development: Exam12 min12 min
Block Rotation: Tutorial5 min5 min
Block Rotation: Exam12 min12 min
Visual Memory Recall Phase: Repeated Instructions2 min2 min
Visual Memory Recall Phase: Exam8 min8 min
Perspectives: TutorialNot given to 5th and 6th graders6 min
Perspectives: ExamNot given to 5th and 6th graders19 min
Survey/Comments10 min10 min
Totals83 min109 min
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