Many employers, especially larger ones, will ask you to sit a test as part of their selection process. Tests fall into two main types:
Aptitude / Ability Tests
These test your capabilities, usually in numeracy, understanding text and logical problem solving. They are generally multiple choice, timed, lasting around 30 minutes each with 20-30 questions to be completed. Exact timing and structure vary from one test to another.
These seek to establish your preferred style of working; e.g. are you happiest in a team or independently? Do you prefer working with people or handling data? The usual format of the question is to ask you to choose, from several statements, the one that best describes you. They're not strictly timed but you are expected to work through them quite quickly.
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Aptitude Tests in General
Employers can use tests early on in the selection process. This is mostly done with aptitude tests and they will want you to reach a certain pass mark to go onto the next stage of selection. Alternatively, you will sit them alongside an interview or as part of an assessment centre, when your results will be considered with all the evidence the employers has gathered. You are sometimes sent some sample questions in advance.
The tests, known also as ‘Reasoning Skills Tests’, available through this site are:
- Verbal – looking at your ability to understand written material and work out what logically follows from what you have read
- Numerical – looking at your ability to solve problems using numerical information
- Abstract – looking at your ability to find patterns and links between groups of shapes, and seeing where new shapes fit in. This ability is liked to generating new ideas, creative thinking and problem-solving.
Tips on doing well
- You need to be both quick and accurate
- Try to remain motivated throughout the test and do your best – the more you put in, the more accurate your results and the more you will get out of the experience.
- There's not usually time to check each answer as you go. If you have any time left at the end that's your opportunity to look again at any questions you're not sure about.
- Work steadily, questions tend to get more difficult as the test progresses, although an easier question can be placed amidst more tricky ones.
- You'll probably not be able to finish the test in the time given.
- Practice by doing puzzles, answering quizzes, playing card games. All provide experience of answering short questions at speed, or using logic and reasoning.
- See Further Information for details of Practice tests.
- Brush up your arithmetic. See Further Information for sources to help with this. You need to be completely comfortable with working out percentages, exchange rates, time differences, reading charts, graphs and tables.
- Revisit your multiplication tables.
- Practice mental arithmetic by working out prices/weights/values when shopping. You may not be able to use a calculator.
- You are generally given a passage of text and asked questions about it.
- Use only the information given in the text to decide on your answer - it's not a test of your general knowledge.
- It's quickest to read the questions first, then read the passage, seeking out the answers to the questions.
- Develop your skills in quick comprehension by reading an article in a serious newspaper and summarising each paragraph in a sentence or two.
Take aptitude tests online
The Careers Service has purchased the licence agreement and offers to current Surrey students and recent graduates (who have graduated from Surrey University within the last three years) the opportunity to practice aptitude tests online via PFS website. To obtain a log-in and a password, please contact the Careers Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Careers Service has purchased the licence agreement to offer an on-line personality test which is similar to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. This test is available via the website www.profilingforsuccess.com/take-an-assessment.
If you would like to try this test, you will need to contact us or call in to the Careers Service where a member of staff will provide you with the access codes. Shortly after completion you will receive a 12 page report of your results by email.
The report is self-explanatory, but you are welcome to speak to a Careers Adviser , particularly if any of your scores produce an unclear result (referred to as 'corridor' in the report).
- Reference and loan copies of the following books are available in the Careers Service.
Advanced Numerical Reasoning Tests, by David Isaacs
How to Pass Advances Aptitude Tests, by Jim Barrett
How to Pass Graduate Psychometric Tests, by Mike Bryon
Management Level Psychometric & Assessment Tests, How To Books
Practise & Pass Professional: Numeracy Tests by, Alan Redman
Practise & Pass Professional: Verbal Reasoning Tests, by Alan Redman
The Aptitude Test Workbook, by Jim Barrett
Take aptitude tests online
The Careers Service has purchased the licence agreement and offers to current Surrey students and recent graduates (who have graduated from Surrey University within the last three years) the opportunity to practice aptitude tests online via PFS website. To obtain a log-in and a password, please email the Careers Service email@example.com.
More practice websites
Job Test Prep helps students to prepare for a large variety of aptitude tests used by employers; includes over one hour of free practice sessions
SHL Student Direct are a major producer of the tests used in UK graduate recruitment.
BPS Psychological Testing Centre is a comprehensive site. Includes a test takers guide and some practice tests.
Educational Testing Service Includes details of various tests, including the GRE and GMAT, information on how to prepare and some practice questions Testing Service Tests/Prepare for the Test /GRE & GMAT practice
Graduate Jobs Numeracy Test Practice numeracy tests typical of graduate application assessments. Graphs, charts and data interpretation questions based on a pool of 200 questions.
Kenexa online practice tests: select the relevant practice test.
Careers Report Test-based graduate career planning to help you find your ideal graduate job. You can use the Career Report to practise personality questionnaires and psychometric tests and see where you stand against other graduates and students
Psychometric Success Help and advice plus a number of practice tests.
AssessmentDay An accurate simulation of the tests and assessment exercises employers use. Examples of situational judgement tests. Look up for free practice examples.