While looking for a job, many employers will ask you to complete a questionnaire to test your skills and abilities, and to identify your interests and strengths. In fact, research shows that more than 75 per cent of the world’s largest employers are currently using aptitude tests as part of their recruitment process, and that figure is expected to rise to 88 per cent over the next few years. This alone is a perfectly valid reason to start preparing for them.
Familiarising yourself with psychometric testing and assessments can help you achieve a high score in job selection tests. In the short-term, this kind of preparation can help you land a job, while in long-term can ensure that you are in the right career path and that you progress in it. While it may be costly to access these kinds of tests, some organisations offer free samples, effectively allowing you to practice online with various psychometric tools.
Types of Tests
Psychometric testing is often used by employers as a complementary tool to their selection process or for training purposes. The information gathered from these tests helps employers identify the hidden aspects of candidates that would otherwise be difficult to extract during a job interview.
They are also widely used by career advisers in order to help students, or adults, discover which careers best suit them, by taking into account various factors such as skills, interests, motivation and personal values.
The main uses of psychometric testing include:
- Selection of personnel
- Individual development and training
- Team building and development
- Career development and progression
Learning more about these tests can help you gain a better understanding of what they typically entail, as well as the type of questions likely to come up during an assessment. Not only that but you’ll be able to increase your chances for success.
There are three main types of tests, as follows:
- Aptitude or ability tests:They are used to measure your general ability in a specific area (eg: verbal, numerical, diagrammatic reasoning, etc). They are a type of skills assessment that aims to assess your competence relating to job-related skills and to predict your job performance. These are often paper-based questionnaires but can also be administrated on a computer. They are time-limited and your results are compared with those of others who have already taken the test in order to assess your level of ability.
- Personality tests: These assess your personal characteristics, attitudes and work styles. They examine the way you do things, how you behave in certain circumstances and how you are more likely to carry out specific activities.
- Interest tests: They are used to assess your motivation, values and opinions in relation to your career interests.
Since each type of test examines a different area, it’s a good idea to practice in each. Use the sample questions below to get a better idea what to expect in each test.
Aptitude or Ability Test Samples
Aptitude or ability tests take the form of reasoning tests and ability assessments, and are timed.
Sample 1 - Verbal Reasoning
These tests are designed to measure your ability to interpret verbal information and reach correct conclusions.
The brain has around one hundred billion cells (neurons). Brain cells make links that form neural pathways and it is these links that help us to learn. It is estimated that there might be as many as one hundred trillion such neural links, although others have put the figure much higher – 1 with millions of zeros after it. The number of neural links has been likened to trying to imagine all the trees in the Amazon rainforest as the number of neurons, and the number of leaves on every tree in the rainforest as the number of neural connections.
Much of the new research into how the brain works has been boosted by the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. This technology allows us to be able to gain a greater understanding of the complex processes that are involved in normal human activity. Different parts of the brain can be shown to be more active in certain types of human physical and mental activity than others, and whilst we still have much to learn about the brain, the leap in our understanding has not only helped the medical profession but also business and economics.
A. There are one hundred trillion neural links in the human brain.
c) Cannot Say - While the passage does mention this figure, it's also stated that it could be 'much higher'. A definite answer is, therefore, not possible.
B. MRI technology is useful to conduct research on the brain.
a) True - The second paragraph details how MRI technology helps us better understand the complex processes involved in normal human activity.
c) Cannot Say
C. Improving our understanding of the brain is useful for sports.
c) Cannot Say - There is no mention of sports anywhere in the passage and providing a definite answer is, therefore, not possible.
D. Some parts of the brain are more active during creative activity.
c) Cannot Say - Although this is likely, the passage says 'certain types' of activity but does not conclude that the brain functions differently during 'all' activity or what types of activity specifically.
Sample 2 - Logical Reasoning
These tests are designed to assess your ability to analyse abstract information and apply this in determining outcomes and patterns. They typically include True/False/Cannot Say, multiple-choice and 'best answer' format questions.
Question 1: What is the missing letter in the following series? ‘a – c – e – ? – i’
iii) g – The correct sequence is formed by every other letter.
Question 2: Choose which one of the options best fits the missing symbol.
Question 3: Choose which one of the options best fits the missing symbol.
Sample 3 - Numerical Reasoning
These tests are designed to measure your ability to analyse and draw inferences from numerical information and data.
Question 1: A magician bought a rabbit for £60 and a pigeon for £70. How much more expensive is the pigeon than the rabbit in percentage?
c) 16.66% – The difference between the pigeon’s and the rabbit’s prices is £10 (£70 minus £60). A £10 difference between £60 and £70 represents a £10/£60 or 1/6 or 16.66% increase from £60.
Question 2: The population of the UK in 2008 was 60,587,300. What is the ratio of people living in England to those living in Scotland?
The correct answer is 21:2. The ratio is 84:8 – in other words, for every 84 people living in England, there are 8 living in Scotland. This ratio can be cancelled down to 21:2.
Question 3: Which product experienced the biggest change in percentage terms in year 1 to year 2?
The correct answer is water. To find the solution, you must calculate the percentage changes in price for all respective products by using: ((Price in y2 minus Price in y1) divided by Price in y2) times 100. The biggest change is the biggest percentage which, in this case, is water.
Sample 4 - Diagrammatic/Inductive Reasoning
These tests are designed to evaluate your ability to gather information, interpret diagrams and other sets of rules, and apply them to new situations.
Question 1: Which set does the figure belong to?
i) Set A
ii) Set B
iii) Neither Set A nor Set B
Question 2: Which set does the figure belong to?
i) Set A
ii) Set B
iii) Neither Set A nor Set B
Sample 5 - Spatial Reasoning
These tests are designed to assess your ability to visualise and manipulate two-dimensional or three-dimensional shapes or patterns.
Question 1: How many blocks make up the shape below?
The correct answer is E. To find the solution, break the large block into a series of smaller blocks. For example, here there is a block of three 5-cube pillars (which together makes 15 blocks), a group of three 3-cube pillars (which together makes 9 blocks) and 2 single blocks. Adding them together (15 + 9 + 2) gives 26.
Question 2: Which cube cannot be made based on the unfolded cube?
Question 3: Which image can be made from the three shapes shown?
The correct answer is C. To find the solution, think about the relative lengths and widths of the different shapes. Consider the angles and which might fit together well. Look for any extra or different shapes in answers.
Sample 6: Error Checking
These tests are designed to measure your ability to quickly and accurately detect errors in data.
Question 1: For each given string of data, say which two sets contain the same or different items.
Question 2: Are the items on the left transported correctly? If not, where are the errors?
Sample 7 - Mechanical Reasoning
These tests are designed to measure your knowledge on mechanical and physical concepts and evaluate how well you can apply reasoning in a practical environment.
Question 1: Which cogwheel will turn faster, the first one (I) or the second one (II)?
The correct answer is Cogwheel II. To find the solution, you will need to use the concept of gear ratio. Gear ratio is defined as the ratio between the wheel upon which the force is applied and the wheel to which the force is transmitted.
- Ninput = the number of teeth in the driver gear (driver cogwheel)
- NOutput = the number of teeth in the driven gear (driven cogwheel)
Question 2: How long will it take to fill a pool with a volume of 1,000 litres when the large tube is removed?
The correct answer is 100 seconds. The outgoing cross/sectional area is irrelevant; the only factor to be considered is the rate of flow (flux). You can calculate the time needed to fill the pool using the following equation:
Time = Volume/Rate of flow
Inserting the given data (volume =1,000 litres, rate of flow = 10 litres/sec)
Time = 1,000[litres]/10[litres/sec] = 100[sec]
Sample 8 – Abstract Reasoning
These tests are designed to measure your ability to identify the underlying logic of a pattern and then determine a solution.
Question 1: Identify the odd one out.
The correct answer is C. This type of question requires you to look at some data, identify the pattern or rules and then spot which square does not meet those rules. Watch out for relative positions, number of items, relationships between items, colours, shapes and orientation of shapes. There are many different variations on these rules and there may be some extraneous data in there that complicates the rules.
For example, in this question, some of the squares have three items inside and some have four – you need to work out whether or not that is important. In this particular case, there are two rules. The first is that the largest shape must be grey and the second is that the bottom shape must be black. The odd one out is, therefore, C as the bottom shape is striped and not black.
Question 2: 1 is to 2, as 2 is to 4. Find the missing symbol.
The correct answer is A. This type of question is all about relationships between data: being able to recognise what links two boxes together and then applying this rule to a new shape to solve the problem.
There are two rules here. First, the shape in Box 2 has one more side than the shape in Box 1. As the shape in Box 3 has six sides, the correct shape for Box 4 must have seven sides. The second rule is around the arrow, and the rule is that for shapes with an even number of sides, the arrow points up. For shapes with an odd number of sides, the arrow points down.
Personality Test Samples
These tests may take the form of personality profiles and personality assessments. There are no wrong or right answers and they aren’t timed as opposed to aptitude tests. Self-report questionnaires use covert questions to ask you about aspects of your personality which are relevant to the workplace.
Question 1: Choose which describes you the most on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = most, 5 = least).
I am the kind of person who…
1) Has a wide circle of friends and is very popular
2) Enjoys organising parties, outdoor activities, etc
3) Has a lot of brilliant ideas
4) Likes spending time outdoors
5) Prefers being alone for the majority of time
Question 2: Answer all of the following questions about yourself.
Question 3: For each statement, choose the response that best represents your opinion.
Interest Test Samples
Interest tests provide various statements describing ways of feeling or acting which you are asked to answer on a scale of 1 to 5 (less/more) or according to your personal preference (Agree/Disagree), depending on the type of question. Most often, they take the form of motivation questionnaires:
Question 1: I prefer to work alone than in a group.
Question 2: I enjoy repairing/fixing things.
a) Strongly Disagree
e) Strongly Agree
Question 3: I like managing other people.
a) Strongly Disagree
e) Strongly Agree
Question 4: Which of the following tasks you would most like to do and which you would least like to do?
a) Design the look of a product
b) Manage someone’s (or a company’s) finances
c) Provide guidelines to other people on how to do things
d) Organise paperwork and make sure everything works in order
The statement you choose to put on top describes the task that you enjoy doing the most. This works according to preference, meaning that the last statement describes an activity that you would prefer not to do as compared to the others. The accurancy of personality and interests tests depends on your ability to answer honesty as well as thinking about what you like and don't like.
Practice Psychometric Tests
Before you are ready to take a psychometric test, you need to familiarise yourself with the different types of tests available. Luckily, there are lots of websites that can help you out and offer free samples of aptitude and personality tests to practice with.
Whether you believe in the legitimacy of psychometric tests or not, it might be a good idea to give it try. If you are looking for a job or you can’t decide on a career, you can also check out our very own Career Hunter, which offers valuable information in regards to your interests, skills and personal qualities, and matches you to your ideal careers.
Your career success begins with taking the first step! Are you ready for it? Any thoughts are welcomed in the comments section below.