With psychometric reasoning tests now an accepted part of many recruitment processes, most candidates can expect to have to complete a Verbal or Numerical Reasoning test at some point during their careers. However, if you have never needed to do this before, or if you have previously unsuccessfully completed psychometric tests, then this can be feel quite difficult.
The key to successfully completing verbal or numerical psychometric tests is practice.
Practicing psychometric tests has a number of advantages:
- It will allow you to familiarize yourself with the types of questions that are likely to be asked. This means that when you encounter similar questions in the actual test you will already know how to solve them.
- It will allow you to practice working at the right speed. One area where many candidates fall down is that they do not work quickly enough, this means that they do not reach the end of the test and therefore do not score highly. Completing a number of practice papers will give you a feel for roughly how long you can dedicate to each question before moving on.
- It will highlight any gaps in your knowledge or areas that you find particularly difficult. This is great news because it enables you to go away and revise or learn that topic. It is far better to know about development areas in advance, when you have time to do something about it, than during a high stakes test.
- It will familiarize you with the format of the questions and the computer interface. This means that you won’t have to waste your precious energy working out how to operate the test on the day, and you can dedicate all of your efforts to solving the problems.
As a rule, the more practice tests you complete, the better your performance will be. It’s like anything else, to get better at something you need to practice! This page has useful resource that includes a useful tips and tricks for success, as well as a number of worked examples and a wide library of practice papers that you can access.
Specific preparation for Numerical Reasoning Tests
Numerical Reasoning tests are often particularly dreaded, especially if the candidate does not use a lot of mathematics or calculations in their day to day life. But there is nothing to worry about although you may need to do a little bit of work up front. Numerical reasoning tests typically provide you with some information, often in the form of a table or a graph and ask you to perform calculations based on this. This could be a train timetable, a sales graph, or a table showing the price of products in different currencies, for example.
To be successful you need to be able to accurately perform these calculations, and you need to know how to do this without having to try and remember the methodology or work it out during the test. It needs to be fresh in your mind (and the best way to get it fresh in your mind is to practice).
In particular, you will need to understand:
- Basic arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Percentages, fractions and ratios, and how they relate to one another.
You should also make sure you are familiar with estimating, and with interpreting graphs or charts. The data may be presented to you in a variety of format including numbers, measurements, currency and time so you need to be comfortable manipulating and understanding these.
Test-writers deliberately exploit some of the common mistakes that candidates make and include plausible but incorrect answers in the list of potential responses e.g. answer options might include 40, 400, 4,000 or 40,000. To avoid these errors, make sure you check that you are working with the correct unit, put your decimal places in the right place and always use the correct formula.
Recommended websites for test practice
Test Partnership’s guide to psychometric tests.
Specific preparation for Verbal Reasoning Tests
To be successful on a Verbal Reasoning Test you will need to be able to accurately read and understand a passage of text, and then answer questions about it. These questions typically require you to say whether a statement is true or false, or whether it is impossible to say, based on the information presented.
This can be much harder than it sounds, but there are some simple techniques that can really help:
- Read the question properly. Make sure that you read and re-read the passage of information provided. Then read the question and re-read the passage in order to arrive at your answer. Lots of people get the wrong answers because they haven’t read and understood the passage properly. Make (super quick) notes of the key points if that helps you.
- Use only the information provided, not your own knowledge or experience. Verbal reasoning tests assume that you have no previous knowledge of the assessment topic. You must ONLY use the information provided in order to respond to the question. At times this may go against what you actually know to be true, and it can be tempting to think you must have read the question wrong. In these situations, check and double check what the passage actually says, and use only this to formulate your answer.
- Take your time to get to grips with the logic. It can be hard to work out what the passage means (which is the point of the exercise!) because it is written in a complicated or confusing way, and candidates sometimes get themselves tangled up in the logic. Double negatives, for example, can be tricky. For example, “if Raj can’t not go the party”, can Raj go to the party? In this instance, yes Raj can go to the party because the two negative statements i.e. can’t and not, cancel one another out.
Working through a number of practice questions will enable you to get a feel for the way the information is presented and what is and is not correct.
About the author:
Ed Mellett is an entrepreneur, careers professional and founder of practicereasoningtests.com. He is known for co-founding and launching the leading student and graduate careers website wikijob.co.uk. Now in its 11th year, wikijob attracts over 400,000 unique users per month and is a must-visit resource for students considering their careers post-university. In 2011 he founded wikifestivals.com, a wiki resource and global community for festival fanatics. Ed’s other interests include AI, neuroscience and psychology.