A Comprehensive Guide to Psychometric and Aptitude Tests

A graduate scheme or graduate employment opportunity is one of the best ways that university leavers can acquire valuable skills in the workplace. Some graduate schemes are extremely competitive with a recruitment process lasting many weeks or even months. Applicants may be expected to carry out a number of tests, activities and interviews as they progress through each stage of the application process and one of the most widely used methods of assessing graduates is through an aptitude or psychometric test. The purpose of these tests is to evaluate specific skills to ensure that organisations recruit the highest calibre individuals.

Many graduates will ask how you can prepare for a psychometric test when the selection of tests is so diverse. The answer to this is that although it can be challenging, it is by no means impossible. Finding out what tests you will be expected to complete is a good starting point so that you can carry out the necessary preparation before the actual test. Practice tests can help you familiarise yourself with the content and style of questioning as well as perfecting your technique in terms of speed and accuracy. Aptitude tests are designed to be fast paced so you will need to become accustomed to working through the questions at quite a pace.

The Recruitment Process and a Psychometric Test

Although there are no set rules which govern when a psychometric test will appear in the recruitment process, they usually appear:

  • After submitting your online application form
  • Before your first face to face interview (after an initial telephone interview)
  • At a second interview
  • During an assessment day
  • Sometimes employers will ask applicants to sit the same test twice; once at the beginning of the application process and then again at the end in order to verify the results.

The Main Aptitude and Psychometric Tests

The type of test that you will be asked to complete often depends on the industry and indeed the job that you are applying for. Some aptitude tests are more common in certain industries so it is important to find out which test(s) that you will be expected to complete. There are many different types of test but the main ones include;

Verbal Reasoning – Used to evaluate how you can read, absorb and interpret key information before reaching a decision

Numerical Reasoning – Testing your ability in reading, interpreting and using statistical information as well as charts, graphs and other numerical data

Logical Reasoning or Deductive Reasoning – How you use information, rules or guidelines to reach a conclusion. A deductive reasoning test is often found in an industry that will require the use of problem solving skills using available data. A deductive reasoning test will usually present key pieces of information such as rules or guidelines which then need applying to a given situation which will determine what will happen in a given situation. A deductive reasoning test can take quite a bit of practice to master so it is important that you prepare beforehand if you know that you are going to have to sit a deductive reasoning test.

Non-Verbal Reasoning or Inductive Reasoning – The way in which you can identify patterns in data or other information to reach a conclusion. This type of assessment is often found in technical industries such as science, engineering or IT. Inductive reasoning usually provides a set of multiple choice questions completed under timed conditions. Applicants will be provided with a set of pictures which are slightly different and the applicant has to determine which picture will appear next in the sequence.

The Aptitude Test

Aptitude tests are used by employers to evaluate role specific skills such as a programming task in IT or a problem solving activity in a marketing environment. Financial based jobs will require candidates to complete a set of numerical reasoning tests all of which relate to the role that they are applying for.

There are many different ways in which you can prepare for assessment activities in the recruitment process and the internet is a great resource to graduates looking to sit practice tests. SHL, a leading provider of psychometric tests offer a range of practice options for applicants and there are many different websites all of which allow you to practice and perfect your technique. Other websites that provide practice aptitude tests include Saville Consulting and Peoplemaps.

Top Tips for Success

If you have received an invitation to sit a psychometric test it can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you haven’t completed one before and you are a little apprehensive as to what to expect. As well as finding relevant practice tests online, you can also carry out some additional preparatory work such as completing puzzles, identifying patterns and solving clues which will refine your logical thinking skills. If you know that one of the aptitude tests is going to involve some kind of numeracy it would be wise to brush up on your maths skills, focusing specifically on charts, graphs and reviewing statistical information. If you are asked to complete a numerical reasoning test and maths isn’t your strongest subject don’t panic. Recruiters are not looking for some mathematical genius; GCSE level maths will often suffice to do well in these tests.

Alternatively you may be asked to complete a verbal reasoning test. In this instance as well as your practice tests, read newspapers and think about statements behind the story or look at the article from a different perspective to see how they could be interpreted. Also review content for commonly miss spelt words or sentences which are grammatically incorrect. Basic mistakes can sometimes appear even in leading newspapers and publications.

On the day of the test try to remain as calm as possible. Letting your nerves get the better of you can seriously hinder your performance and the way in which you think. Make sure that you go to the assessment prepared and you have everything that you will need such as glasses, your invitation letter and identification if this has been requested. Ensure that you leave home in plenty of time to reach the destination and if you have never been before it is set out a little earlier so you can get there on time.

Before the test begins read or listen to the instructions carefully because there may be specific pieces of information within these instructions that advise you how to complete the test correctly. If you are given a few sample questions as a test, don’t skip them and if there is anything that you need to clarify this is the time to ask. Once the test begins approach the questions methodically, read them carefully and answer the questions quickly and accurately.

Psychometric tests are not something that you should fear. With good planning, suitable preparation and the right mind set there is no reason why you can’t sit the tests and succeed.

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