According to The University of Kent Careers and Employability Service, aptitude tests are a structured, systematic way of evaluating how people perform or react to different situations. The tests have standardised methods of administration, are timed and used to assess certain skills that are needed for specific jobs or industries.
Types of Aptitude Tests
There are many types of aptitude tests and this makes it easy to get lost in translation. To provide some clarity, The Institute of Psychometric Coaching groups these into different categories depending on the type of cognitive ability. This is fluid and crystallised intelligence - both of which are covered in this guide.
Fluid Intelligence: it refers to the ability to think and reason abstractly, solve problems effectively and think strategically. It is most commonly known as the ability to ‘think on your feet’. Tests in this category assess skills such as problem-solving, learning new skills, integrating new information, strategic thinking and decision making.
These include the following tests:
- Abstract reasoning/Inductive reasoning: tests that identify how well a candidate can see the underlying logic in patterns rather than words or numbers.
- Diagrammatic reasoning/Inductive reasoning: assess the understanding of concepts and ideas, visualised with the use of diagrams and imagery instead of by linguistic or algebraic means.
- Logical reasoning: tests that assess your ability to think logically and analytically.
Crystallized Intelligence: refers to the ability to learn from past experience and apply this learning to work-related situations. These may include preparing and analysing reports, using numbers as a tool to make effective decisions and other more subject-specific activities.
It include the following tests:
- Mechanical reasoning: measures your ability to understand and apply mechanical concepts and principles to solve problems.
- Numerical reasoning: assesses your ability to interpret, analyse and draw logical conclusions based on numerical data presented in graphs and tables.
- Verbal reasoning: examines your ability to understand verbal information, think logically about written information, accurately draw logical conclusions, produce written reports and convey information to others in a clear and simple manner.
- Spatial reasoning: assesses your ability to understand complex plans and shapes and identify the rules or patterns in them.
- Lateral thinking: tests your ability to solve problems with an indirect and creative approach, viewing the problem in a new or unusual light.
The tests are often used by employers in hiring process alongside interviews, application forms, references and academic results to help them decide if the candidate is suitable for the role judging from current knowledge and abilities. Like any other psychometric assessment tool, aptitude tests aren’t perfect and shouldn’t be used in isolation when trying to assess an individual’s potential. Candidates with disabilities, for example, may be at a disadvantage when taking this type of test.
Other tests that are subject-specific, but less commonly used are:
- In-tray exercises: business-related scenarios that assess how well you can prioritise tasks.
- Situational judgement tests: psychological tests that assess your judgement in resolving work-based problems.
- Cognitive ability tests: measure general intelligence, covering many categories of aptitude tests
- Watson Glaser tests: designed to assess your ability to apply mechanical or engineering principles to problems; they are often used for technical roles.
- Error checking tests: an unusual type of aptitude test that focuses on your ability to spot errors in complex data sets
Preparing for Aptitude Tests
If you are searching for a job, practising aptitude tests can help you improve your score and performance enormously. Here are a few sample questions for each type of aptitude test to help you practice:
EXERCISE 1: Which figure logically belongs on the spot of the question mark?
EXERCISE 2: Which figure logically belongs on the spot of the question mark?
EXERCISE 3: Which figure logically belongs on the spot of the question mark?
How to succeed: The best way to succeed in any abstract test that asks you to recognise the rule behind the transformation of shape is to follow your intuition. In these three examples, you need to quickly scan your memory and choose the most suitable pattern. Practising abstract tests can help you improve your memory as well as your ability to process information quickly.
EXERCISE 1: Which set does the Figure belong to?
- Set A
- Set B
- Neither set A nor set B
The answer is 2) Set B.
Set A: Each box contains exactly one shaded star and two stars behind the lines.
Set B: Each box contains exactly one shaded star and one star behind the lines.
Figure: The Figure contains one shaded star and one star behind the lines.
EXERCISE 2: Which set does the Figure belong to?
- Set A
- Set B
- Neither set A nor set B
The answer is 3) neither set A nor set B.
Set A: each box contains symbols with curved edges.
Set B: each box contains symbols with only straight edges.
Figure: the Figure contains symbols with both curved and straight edges.
EXERCISE 3: Which set does the Figure belong to?
- Set A
- Set B
- Neither set A nor set B
The answer is 1) Set A.
Set A: each shape is made up of three segments.
Set B: each shape is made up of four segments.
Figure: The shape in the Figure consists of three segments.
How to succeed: just like abstract reasoning tests, diagrammatic tests assess your logical reasoning skills. Your job here is to interpret what the diagrams are saying and find the missing piece. The tests are commonly used to assess candidates applying for jobs in marketing, investment, banking or sales.
EXERCISE 1: If there are no dancers that aren’t slim and no singers that aren’t dancers, then which statements are always true?
- There is not one slim person that isn’t a dancer.
- All singers are slim.
- Anybody slim is also a singer.
- None of the above.
The answer is 2) – All singers are slim. The question is phrased negatively and can be confusing.
EXERCISE 2: What replaces the question mark?
Rule 1: From left to right, the arrow moves one place counterclockwise around the box. This pattern continues onto the next row.
Rule 2: The shaded square location is indicated by the arrow in the corner.
EXERCISE 3: What replaces the question mark?
Rule 1: From left to right, the arrow moves one place counterclockwise around the pentagon each time. This pattern continues onto the next row.
Rule 2: From left to right, the arrow alternates between being in front of and behind the pentagon. This pattern continues onto the next row.
EXERCISE 4: Dan is Joshua’s son and Guy’s brother. Margaret is Guy’s mother and Judy’s daughter. Which of the statements below is definitely true?
- Judy is Dan’s mother-in-law
- Margaret is Dan’s mother
- Judy is Joshua’s grandmother
- None of the above
The answer is 4) ‘None of the above’. Dan and Guy are siblings. However, you do not know if they are full siblings or half-brothers. Margaret, who is Guy’s mother, might not be Dan’s mother, and Joshua, who is Dan’s father, might not be Guy’s father. Therefore the answer is ‘None of the above.’
How to succeed: logical reasoning tests usually come in two types of questions. Both types present scenarios accompanied with carefully selected statements or questions. These come in true, false or cannot be determined statements, multiple-choice or best answer format, just like the examples above. Preparing for logical reasoning tests and getting more familiar with these well in advance can increase your chances of success.
EXERCISE 1: Identity which statements are true or false
Psychotherapists recognise that the law is generally in place to uphold client-therapist confidentiality however, there are situations that may occur where the therapist is under obligation to break that confidence. This obligation can vary depending upon where the therapist is practising and it may occur as a result of their employment contract or of the law. Where such an issue does occur, the therapist is expected to firstly try and discuss the presenting issue with their client; however in situations where the factors under consideration are particularly urgent, it is accepted that this cannot always be the case.
Legitimate breaches of confidentiality relate to circumstances where the information the client has shared relates to acts of terrorism; information of this nature must be reported. There are other circumstances where breaching confidentiality may be considered legitimate, for example, in the case of serious crime or suspected child abuse. Individual employers and independent therapists have their own boundaries but must agree this contractually with their client at the outset of the therapeutic relationship.
Question 1: Being obliged to break confidentiality in a therapeutic relationship is always a direct result of the law.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 2) False – The law is one reason why someone would have to break confidentiality, but their employment contract is another reason why this could occur. ‘.. and it may occur as a result of their employment contract or of the law.’
Question 2: When a client reports their involvement in a serious crime, their therapist is legally obliged to report this.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 2) False – This is not true because they are legally obliged to report acts of terrorism. The statement tells us that serious crime is a circumstance which may be considered a legitimate reason.
Question 3: Therapists have some flexibility regarding what they deem serious enough to lead them to breach confidentiality.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 1) True – the last sentence talks about the fact that ‘individual employers and independent therapists have their own boundaries but must agree on this contractually with their client at the outset of the therapeutic relationship’. This, therefore, means that they do have some flexibility regarding what they deem to be serious enough.
EXERCISE 2: Identity which statements are true or false
Two charities have delivered a petition to the Prime Minister that has been signed by over 35,000 people. The petition, jointly organised by the ‘Health Food Group’ (HFG) and ‘Happy Heart and Mind’ is calling for a ban on junk food adverts before 9 pm on any channel. The Government is also being urged to tighten advertising regulations and protect children in this regard more widely. The current regulations restrict junk food adverts from being showing during children’s programming but there is nothing to stop them being shown during popular family slots, such as Saturday evenings when many children watch television with their families.
Casey Stemp coordinated the petition and is a strong advocate of the proposed changes. ‘By removing junk food adverts from television at any time before 9pm, we would be seeing a simple, popular and effective move that would help parents to tackle the increasing desire of young people to consume such foods.’
The loopholes that junk food companies find mean that our younger generation is faced with a constant bombardment of junk food adverts. As future generations are becoming more and more obese we have to look for opportunities to alleviate the temptations they are facing on a daily, if not hourly basis!
Question 1: Current advertising rules allow junk food adverts to be shown on some children’s channels.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 2) False – This is not true as paragraph 1 tells us that the current regulations restrict junk food adverts during ‘children’s programming’ which would, of course, include children’s channels.
Question 2: Saturday evenings are a time when many families would be tempted to indulge in junk food.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 3) Cannot Tell – Whilst we know that junk food adverts can be shown on Saturday evenings, this doesn’t imply that families would be more tempted to eat junk food at this time.
Question 3: Obesity amongst young people is steadily declining.
- Cannot Tell
The answer is 2) False – Obesity is actually increasing as we are told ‘As future generations are becoming more and more obese…’
How to succeed: The secret to succeeding in verbal reasoning tests is to take every word literally. As such, you need to be able to read through it quickly and understand what the passage is saying. The answers you are looking for are given in the text and you need to ask yourself if you are 100 percent sure the statement is true or false. If you can’t tell for sure, you can also check the possibility of Cannot Say. To succeed you need to practice some questions for yourself and then look at the solutions to find out what went wrong.
EXERCISE 1: Read the question and select the best answer from the options available.
Question 1: How much force is required to lift the load?
- 20 kg
- 10 kg
- 5 kg
- Impossible to say
The answer is c) 5 kg. The weight is 20 kg and there are 4 ropes supporting the weight. Therefore the force required to lift it is 20 kg divided by 4, which is 5kg.
Question 2: What is the capacitance of the equivalent capacitor (condenser) of the circuit shown in the diagram below?
- Impossible to answer
The answer is 3) 12mF. In order to solve this question it will be easier to look at the circuit as though it is made up of two parts: I) capacitors 3 and 4 connected in parallel and II) the equivalent capacitance of I) and capacitor 5 connected in parallel.
Connecting capacitors in parallel is based on the fact that the voltage potential on the capacitors is equal and is also equal to voltage potential on the equivalent capacitor.
Cequivalent = C1 + C2 + ….
By inserting the data for capacitors 3 and 4 we will receive the following equivalent value:
Cequivalent of the upper two capacitors = 3mF + 4mF = 7mF
Similarly, we can calculate the capacitance of the equivalent capacitor in the circuit using the equivalent capacitance of (3+4) and 5:
Cnet = 7mF + 5mF = 12mF
Question 3: The following diagram shows two fixed cogwheels which can only rotate around their own axis. The red cogwheel has 24 teeth and the grey cogwheel has 12 teeth.
A toothed belt is inserted between the two cogwheels and is moved in the direction shown by the arrow. In which direction and velocity will the grey cogwheel rotate in comparison to the red cogwheel?
- Double the velocity, opposite direction
- Double the velocity, same direction
- Double the velocity, same direction
- The red cogwheel moves at double the velocity of the grey cogwheel, in an opposite direction
The answer is 1) double the velocity, opposite direction. When contact is made between the toothed belt and the cogwheels a conversion from a linear velocity to an angular velocity occurs. Thus, the location of the point of contact is critical.
We can see from the diagram that the point of contact between the red cogwheel and the toothed belt is at the lower part of the red cogwheel, a position in which the linear velocity induces an angular velocity in a clockwise direction.
In contrast, the point of contact between the grey cogwheel and the toothed belt is at the upper part of the grey cogwheel, a position in which the linear velocity induces an angular velocity in a counter-clockwise direction. It follows that the cogwheels rotate in opposite directions.
The angular velocity can be calculated using the thumb rule: “fewer teeth, faster velocity”. Due to the inversely, proportional ratio between the number of teeth and the velocity we are able to assume that since the grey cogwheel has half the number of teeth, its velocity must be double the velocity of the red cogwheel.
How to succeed:
these tests measure your ability to apply cognitive reasoning to mechanical, physical and practical concepts to solve related problems. They assess how well you can apply reasoning in a practical environment and are often used during the selection process for jobs in the fields of engineering, emergency services and the army.
You will be required to answer questions based on topics such as electrical circuits, pulleys, levers, springs, tools, gears, weights, friction, pressure, gravity, volumes, and maps amongst others, just like the examples above. The best way to prepare for these is to take the time to understand in your mind what problems are solved by these mechanical techniques, how they work and how they are applied in the real world.
Well-known mechanical reasoning tests employers use include Bennett Test of Mechanical Comprehension, Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude, Barron’s Test of Mechanical Aptitude and Stenquist Test of Mechanical Aptitude.
Question 1: On average, how much market value in Asia would a Uranium employee create per week (52 weeks a year)?
- Cannot Say
The answer is a) $5.3. The market value of Uranium in Asia is $427,000,000. This sum is divided by the number of Uranium employees (1,542,000) = 427,000,000/1,542,000 = $276, 91.
$276.91 is the market value in Asia for extracted Uranium per employee per annum. The question refers to a week, therefore, we divide the calculated sum (representing a year) by 52 = 276.91 / 52 = $5.3
Question 2: Approximately, what is the percentage growth in final energy consumption for the domestic sector in million tonnes of oil equivalent?
The answer is e) 18.96. To answer this question you must first find the amount of oil equivalent used by the domestic sector in each year.
In 2001: 213.6*0.29 = 61.94 million tons
In 2011: 237.7*0.31 = 73.69 million tons
The percentage growth rate would be (73.69/61.94) – 1 = 0,18957. Multiply by 100 to get 18.96%.
In short: [(237.7*0.31) / (213.6*0.29)-1]*100=18.96
Question 3: If the value of the company’s cash flow from operations decreased by 2.7% in 2012, and 63% of their total cash flow was from operations, what would be the total balance of the company, in millions?
The answer is e) 46.33. To solve this question, you must first find the value of cash flow from operations in 2011, where it was 30 million. Then calculate a 2.7% decrease: 30*0.973 = 29.19
You can now find the total balance using the percentage given in the second part of the question 29.19/0.63 = 46.33
How to succeed: Numerical tests are used in the finance sector and more specifically in banking, accountancy and insurance. They can be tricky, though becoming more familiar with these and challenging yourself with practice tests can help you prepare effectively.
EXERCISE 1: Find the correct answer
Question 1: When folded, which box can be made from the 2D image shown below?
The answer is E) to solve this you need to check if any answers have rotated only one element. For example, in answer D, the triangle points now face the circle, which shows that they have rotated relative to other elements and are incorrect.
Look for any elements that physically could not be next to one another. For example, in answer B, the two white squares are next to one another, which is physically not possible as on the diagram they are always separated.
EXERCISE 2: Find the correct answer
Question 2: What shape can be assembled using all of the individual shapes shown?
The answer is a) B.
EXERCISE 3: Find the correct answer
Question 1: Office Perez is in Tosh St with City Hall to her right. What direction is she facing?
Question 2: She turns and walks to the junction with West St. She then turns right and walks to the next junction before turning left. Where is location ‘O’ in relation to her position?
Question 3: Officer Martinez starts from location ‘M’ and proceeds as follows: left onto Valencia Av – leading East, second left – heading North, second right – heading East, second left – heading North. He proceeds North for two blocks. What is his location?
How to succeed: Spatial reasoning tests are used for many public safety positions – firefighters, police, and 911 dispatchers but also engineers, architects and chemists, and assess if you have the specific spatial intelligence needed for this type of job.
Question 1: Three switches outside a windowless room are connected to three light bulbs inside the room. How can you determine which switch is connected to which bulb if you are only allowed to enter the room once?
Solution: Switch on the first switch, leave if for a minute, and then switch it off again. Then switch on the second switch and enter the room. The second switch will be connected to the light that is on, the first switch will be connected to the light with the warm bulb, and the third switch will be connected to the light with the cold bulb.
Question 2: A man rode into town on Monday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Monday. How come?
Solution: Monday is the name of his horse.
Question 3: A five letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it. What is the word?
Solution: The word is ‘short’.
Question 4: A man was pushed out of a small aeroplane, without a parachute, but survived with no injuries apart from a few bruises. How was this possible?
Solution: The aeroplane was on the ground.
Question 5: If the day after the day before yesterday was Tuesday, and the day before the day after tomorrow is Thursday, what day is today?
Question 6: A farmer owns a beautiful pear tree. He supplies the fruit to a nearby grocery shop. The shop owner has called the farmer to see how much fruit is available for him to purchase. The farmer knows that the main trunk has 24 branches. Each branch has exactly 12 boughs and each bough has exactly 6 twigs. Since each twig bears one piece of fruit, how many plums will the farmer be able to deliver?
Solution: None – it’s a pear tree.
Question 7: If a plane crashes on the Italian/Swiss border, where do you bury the survivors?
Solution: You don’t bury survivors!
Question 8: An Australian woman was born in 1948 but only celebrated her 16th birthday quite recently. Why?
Solution: She was born on February the 29th.
Question 9: A black man dressed all in black, wearing a black mask, stands at a crossroads in a totally black-painted town. All of the streetlights in town are broken. There is no moon. A black-painted car without headlights drives straight toward him, but turns in time and doesn’t hit him. How did the driver know to swerve?
Solution: It was daytime.
Question 10: What is the next letter in this sequence J F M A M J ?
Solution: J – for July. They are the first letter of the months of the year.
How to succeed: Lateral thinking tests include puzzles and brain teasers and are used by employers to assess a specific problem-solving style that involves looking at a situation from unexpected angles and measure your creativity. There are many types of lateral thinking tests e.g. mathematical lateral logic tests, and the more you prepare, the more your chances of success.
As far as it concerns preparing for aptitude tests, there is really no excuse for not trying, especially when you can find everything you need online. If you want to make sure you are 100 percent ready to take an aptitude test, you need to check out these sites:
- JobTestPrep: the site has everything you need to know regarding aptitude tests with questions, explanations and even PDF copies.
- PracticeAptitudeTests: a site dedicated to aptitude tests preparation to help out job applicants and graduates.
- Institute of Psychometric Coaching:
- SHL (CEB): an international company that operates in over 50 countries and provides tests in over 30 languages. It offers access to over 600 certification tests, work and personality assessment.
- Kenexa: An IBM company provides recruitment services to organisations to attract and hire talent.
- Cubiks: international talent assessment specialists who offer psychometric tests and run assessment centres for employers.
- Talent Q: the site offers a portfolio of assessments, training programs for HR professionals and consultancy services.
Saville: it provides personality questionnaires and aptitude assessments helping employers find the right candidates and offers great tips too.
- 123test: offers free psychological tests including IQ tests, personality tests, work values tests and skill-specific tests to examine responsibility in teams.
Apart from practice tests, these sites offer valuable tips and advice on what aptitude tests are, what they do, and why preparing for them is vital to getting a job and advancing in your career! Aptitude tests aren’t difficult as long as you prepare properly. Persistence and patience are all that it takes to succeed!
Have you ever taken an aptitude test? If yes, how did you find it? Let us know in the comments section below…