Written by Stephie Goodman – WikiJob
Even after university, you’re likely to encounter written tests. Companies across a variety of industries are increasingly turning to psychometric tests to help them screen job candidates. For roles that involve data analysis, numbers, or finance, applicants often have to take a numerical reasoning test to prove that they have the right skills for the job. Although there are many other aptitude tests such as abstract and verbal reasoning tests, people tend to be the most intimidated by numerical reasoning tests. After all, these involve more time pressure because it takes longer to answer each question.
Numerical reasoning tests are quite different from maths tests that you take in school. The questions might seem deceptively easy, but doing well in a numerical reasoning test can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time. Keep reading for tips on how to get a good score:
1. Know what’s covered in a numerical reasoning test
To prepare properly, you have to be familiar with the basics of numerical reasoning tests. These are aptitude tests that evaluate how well you can perform basic mathematical operations and process data in the form of numbers. The scope of a numerical reasoning test includes arithmetic, averages, percentages, and ratios. You will also have to read graphs and analyze number sequences. Unlike secondary school or university maths tests, these do not involve algebra, calculus, or other complex topics. Questions are in a multiple-choice format, and the challenge lies in answering these accurately yet quickly.
2. Get as much information as you can
There are many different kinds of numerical reasoning tests out there, and recruiters will generally provide you with information about your tests, such as the provider and the time limit. Practise as much as possible so you will become familiar with the question format.
The two most popular test providers are Pearson and SHL, but companies can also use tests from Criterion, Talent Q, Test Partnership, IBM Kenexa, and more. While Pearson’s and SHL tests are fairly traditional, some providers such as Talent Q have flexible tests that determine the next question based on your previous answer. Once you know the type of numerical reasoning test you’ll be taking, you can find resources tailored for it specifically.
3. Review common topics
Numerical reasoning tests aren’t like maths tests in school, but it’s still easy to forget the basics. Arithmetic is instinctive for most people, but you might want to brush up on concepts such as order of operations and percentage calculations. Word problems that involve speed or rate of work can also be tricky. Finally, tables and graphs will show up, so try familiarising yourself with common formats such as bar graphs, area graphs, and even financial report tables depending on the role that you’re applying for. Speed is essential in numerical reasoning tests, and being comfortable with these concepts will help you answer questions quickly, as compared to having to refresh your memory in the middle of the exam.
4. Take timed practice tests
Like most aptitude tests, you can improve your performance in numerical reasoning tests with practice. Instead of working on isolated problems, simulate what’ll happen on the day itself by taking a timed practice test online. Here are some resources to get you prepared:
- WikiJob’s guide to numerical tests
- Numerical reasoning tests online
- More sample tests
- Free Practice test from 123test.com (Paid version is also available)
- Expert guide to numerical tests + Practice Tests from Practice reasoning
- University of Reading’s guide to psychometric tests
- SHL test tips
This will let you see how well you do under time pressure. If you get a good score on the practice tests, then you’ll feel relaxed and ready for the actual day. On the other hand, to increase your score, you can keep taking practice tests while reviewing any of your wrong answers afterward. Eventually, the test will become second nature to you, and you’ll be performing with much better speed and accuracy.
5. Bring the proper materials
Prepare the materials or tools that you’ll need for the test the night before. Most numerical reasoning tests will allow for a calculator. Although assessment centers will usually provide this for you if you’re taking the test outside of your home, it doesn’t hurt to bring an extra in case. Make sure you’re familiar with the basic functions of your calculators as well as those for parentheses or brackets, exponents, and storing values. You will also have to bring a pen and scrap paper for writing down your calculations. Finally, wear a watch so you can keep track of your time management during the test. At home, this won’t be a problem since you can simply look at the clock on your computer.
Even if you’re naturally good with numbers, acing a numerical reasoning test can make you stand out from other job applicants. Follow these tips to increase your chances of doing well and getting the job! During your student years, it’s never too early to lay the groundwork for your future career.