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A Guide to Aptitude Tests

Doing well in aptitude tests can make the difference between getting your dream job or not. Our Guide to Aptitude Tests provides an overview of the types of aptitude tests you'll face, and hints, tips and tricks to improve your aptitude testing scores.

A Guide to Aptitude Tests

Aptitude tests assess a person’s core capability of common skills, such as numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning. They offer a very effective mechanism for selecting candidates so have become increasingly involved in the recruitment process. Here we outline everything you need to be successful in them.

What are the different types of aptitude tests?

Numerical reasoning tests

Numerical reasoning tests demonstrate your ability to deal with numbers quickly and accurately.

Verbal reasoning tests

Verbal reasoning tests assess your understanding and comprehension skills. These are typically multiple choice.

Diagrammatic reasoning tests

Diagrammatic reasoning tests assess your logical reasoning ability under a strict time pressure.

Situational judgement tests

Situational judgement tests assess how you approach situations encountered in the workplace.

E-tray exercises

E-tray exercises assess how well you can prioritise a number of tasks.

Error checking tests

Error checking tests assess a candidate’s ability to identify errors and assess the correctness of information.

Personality tests

Personality tests include a series of questions that ensure the breadth of possible personality traits are measured.

Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests are a measure of general intelligence, covering many different categories of aptitude testing.

Spatial awareness tests

Spatial awareness tests assess your ability to mentally manipulate images.

How are aptitude tests structured?

Prior knowledge

No prior knowledge is assumed by the employer. Everyone is treated equally so the results are directly comparable.

Online or on paper

Tests are usually taken online, at a testing centre or at a company’s office. They are electronic or paper-based.

Multiple choice

Tests are usually multiple choice and timed. You’ll have around 60 seconds to answer each question.

Compare results

Each test result is given a percentage. The results are quantified and compared with all other test takers.

How are aptitude tests scored?

There is no passing score for most aptitude tests. Your numerical test result is calculated relative to that of other people applying for the same role or similar roles.

This allows employers to learn how good your aptitude skills are in comparison to other candidates.

Occasionally tests will use negative marking. This means that incorrect answers will produce a negative score. Find out if your test uses negative marking before you start the test.

How do you prepare for aptitude tests?

Practice in advance

There is no substitute for practice. Practice as many questions as you can prior to sitting your assessment. This will enable you to familiarise yourself with the typical format of the questions and the type of responses that are required. With all aptitude tests you will learn more from the questions you get wrong than the ones you get right.

Test preparation

Make sure you get a good night sleep before the test day. Practice will save you sleepless nights before the real assessment. by improving your accuracy, speed and confidence. Make sure you arrive on time, listen to the instructions you are given and follow them precisely. Make sure you ask questions if anything is unclear. You will normally be given some paper on which to make rough workings.

Plan your time

Don’t get stuck on one question. Work out roughly how much time you have per question before you start each test. Try your best to stick to these timings. If you are struggling on a question, don’t guess. You can always come back to the question if you have time left at the end.

Taking aptitude tests

  • Divide your time per question as accurately as possible. It will be typically 60 seconds per question.
  • Focus on the areas you find hardest, focus the majority of your time on these questions.
  • Further to this don’t simply guess, the more practice you undertake the easier you’ll find it to make educated guesses.

Maintain a positive mental attitude - think of your aptitude test as an opportunity to demonstrate your ability.

Your competitors will be fully prepared so you must be too. Don’t fool yourself and think you don’t need to practice as many questions as possible.

Our top 5 practice tips

These five tips are well worth remembering before you take an aptitude test for real:

  1. Practice as many aptitude tests as you can beforehand.

  2. Make sure you make a note of how much time you have and roughly how long you should spend on each question.

  3. If you get stuck, don’t let the clock run down, move on. You might find the next question easier and you’ll pick up more marks by moving on.

  4. Use a good calculator. Make sure you’re familiar with the calculator you’re using. The quicker you are with your calculator, the higher you will score.

  5. Get used to working on paper. We recommend using a big A4 sheet so you have enough room to do any workings.