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Aptitude & psychometric tests for graduates

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Aptitude and psychometric tests for graduates have become a common part of recruitment. There’s no time to waste in disliking them – they are here to stay for the foreseeable future. The good news? You can learn how to handle them. Not only that, but you can learn to master them, too.

Here's a summary of the key points:

  • Types of psychometric tests
  • Format of the tests
  • How to approach them to stand the best chance of success

Types of psychometric tests

Logical/abstract reasoning tests

These measure your ability to identify the underlying logic of a pattern and work out the solution. They’re used often because employers believe logical reasoning is the best indicator of fluid intelligence and the capacity to learn new things quickly. 

Learn more about logical reasoning tests | How to answer abstract reasoning questions | How to tackle diagrammatic reasoning tests

Verbal reasoning tests

These can test your spelling, grammar and ability to understand analogies and follow detailed written instructions. They’re used a lot because employers want to know how well you can communicate.

Learn more about verbal reasoning tests | Verbal reasoning example questions

Numerical reasoning tests

Even if working with numbers won’t be a major part of your job, employers want to know you have this core skill. So they use numerical tests to assess how well you can handle basic arithmetic, number sequences and simple maths and interpret charts and graphs. 

Learn more about numerical reasoning tests | Numerical reasoning example questions

Personality tests 

These assess your typical behaviour when faced with different situations and your preferred way of going about things. They reveal how likely you are to fit into the role and company culture. 

Learn more about personality tests.

How to handle psychometric tests

1. Do your research

When you are asked to take a test as part of a recruitment process the first thing you should do is figure out what type of test it is.  This will greatly influence how you practice for it. Is it numerical, verbal, personality? It is online or paper-based?  Will you have to take it under ‘test conditions’ (e.g. supervised) or can you do it on your own at home?  Which test provider are they using? Are there practice tests available with the provider? 

Do your research and then plan accordingly. You may find you’ve done one of these tests before – or you may find it is completely new.  Some tests – e.g. personality – can’t be practised but it is still worth doing some research into the purpose and structure of the test. 

You are far better placed to handle a test if you understand why you are doing it and what you can expect on the day.

2. Practice

Once you’ve figured out what the test is and what to expect, map out the appropriate amount of time to prepare for it.  Many people fail at this hurdle because they don’t dedicate enough time to prepare.

You would prep for a phone interview, a presentation, face-to-face interview or exam – and a psychometric test is an equally big part of the recruitment process.  You will need to practise and so ensure you put time aside to do this. 

The more you do, the easier it will get.  Don’t be surprised if you don’t pass the first time – they are designed to be hard and the pass mark is often set at a very high level if you are applying for particularly competitive roles. Don’t be discouraged; ensure you set aside more time in future to practice.

3. Treat each test like an exam

If you are taking the test online at home, don’t leave it till the last minute.  Check the deadline and ensure you are planning to take it at least a day in advance. You never know what can go wrong at the last minute and you’ll be surprised by the number of the recruiters that won’t accept excuses for a late submission. 

Make sure you have a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed for the required time period. No phones, house-mates, dogs, heavy traffic nearby. Ensure the computer you use is reliable and has the appropriate browser that you need. Check beforehand what you’ll need (e.g. a calculator, spare paper, pen) so that you are ready to begin as soon as the test starts. 

If you are taking the test under supervised conditions – either online or with paper – then you will most likely be sent a date and time for this. As you would with exams, give yourself plenty of time to get there. You don’t want to be in a flap when you arrive. Check beforehand if you need to bring anything (e.g. pen, paper, calculator) – some Assessment Centres require you to bring your own laptop on the day.

4. Don't panic if you can't complete every question

Remember to take a deep breath and do the best that you can. Work quickly but methodically. If you are finding one question to be challenging, move on if you can. You can rest assured that no one else is finding the test ‘easy’ and by taking it you are one step closer to mastering them.

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