Barclays PLC is an international financial organization that was founded in 1690 in London. Employing 81,000 people in 39 countries, Barclays offers the following services:

  • Personal banking
  • Corporate banking
  • Retail banking
  • Wealth management
  • Investment management

Barclays offers a range of roles for graduates, interns and experienced professionals, with access to different benefits including a competitive salary, pension and a discretionary annual bonus.

What is the cognitive ability assessment for Barclays?

barclays cognitive ability assessment

The cognitive ability assessment is part of the recruitment process at Barclays, and it involves a number of pre-employment tests looking for specific aptitudes and competencies that are relevant for the position applied for.

The assessment looks at the following aptitudes and competencies:

The application process for either a graduate placement, an internship or an experienced professional position is rigorous, and designed to ensure that the most qualified and best-suited candidates are employed.

The process starts with an initial online application form and CV upload, where basic contact details are collected and some competency-related questions need to be answered.

If you match the basic requirements for the role, you will be sent a link to complete some cognitive ability assessments online.

Not all roles will have the same types of questions, and for some roles (especially technical or programming), you might be asked to complete a skills test too.

If you are successful in the cognitive abilities test, you will be asked to attend the interview stage, which might consist of a telephone interview, a video interview, or a face-to-face interview - or a combination of all.

Some roles, particularly graduate or intern programs, end the process with an assessment center, which is a day of group and individual activities that are testing candidates constantly on different soft skills like communication, teamwork, and leadership.

How the assessment works

The assessment is delivered through an email link and needs to be completed online. In some situations, the tests might be taken as part of the assessment center, but this is rare and it is more likely that you will need to take them at home in your own time.

You will typically have a few days to complete the assessments, and the tests themselves are not long - usually around 30 minutes or so.

The assessment asks questions that are designed to test candidates on their abilities in different areas, in practical applications.

The results of the assessment are used by the recruitment team to decide which candidates have the right level of competency to be successful, and the applicants that align the most with the values of the company. The scores needed to pass the assessment depend on the type of role that you have applied for and the caliber of the other applicants.

Test Format

The test takes place entirely online, so you will need a solid and reliable internet connection to complete it.

The questions have multiple choice answers, and are usually quite simple in format and structure.

The verbal reasoning questions present a passage of information that you need to quickly read and understand to find the right answer to the question from the multiple choice options.

Numerical reasoning questions present number-based data, usually in a table or graph, which need some form of mathematical operation to be completed in order to find the appropriate answer from the multiple choice options.

In the logical reasoning questions, you will be asked to find the missing item in a sequence, usually consisting of shapes or images. There will be a pattern or a rule that governs the sequence that you have to find and apply to select the right option from the choices given.

The situational judgment questions use work-based scenarios followed by different courses of action that could be taken to solve the problem. You will need to recognize the best (and worst) way to deal with the issue.

In the personality questionnaire questions, you are presented with a number of statements and have to choose the one that best describes you.

How to prepare for the test

As the cognitive ability test is not designed to assess your knowledge or the skills you have developed through gaining a degree or in previous work experience, preparation is not always about revision.

Pre-employment assessments that focus on aptitude and competency are about your potential to learn and the inherent skills that you have in different areas, so one of the best ways to prepare is to practice - both through taking practice tests and just generally improving your thinking ability.

Familiarity with the test environment and the type of questions that you will be asked will really help you feel more confident in the assessment, and give you the best chance to demonstrate your cognitive abilities.

Sample questions and answers

Verbal Reasoning

The quarterly report shows that hiring costs have reduced by 23% from the previous year, and this can be attributed to using pre-employment assessments as part of the recruitment process for all roles. The initial cost of the tests is offset by reduced staff turnover and less time spent assessing candidates in interviews.

Statement: Pre-employment assessments are used only in the recruitment process for upper-level roles.

a) True

b) False

c) Cannot say

The answer is b) - according to the given information, the assessments are used in the hiring process for all roles.

Numerical Reasoning

Name Predicted Score Actual Score
A. Andrews 76% 87%
B. Bradshaw 56% 58%
C. Colton 66% 76%
D. Drew 87% 56%

Question: According to the table, which student improved their score the most from the prediction?

a) Andrews

b) Bradshaw

c) Colton

d) Drew

The answer is a) Andrews, whose score improved by 11%.

Logical Reasoning

Find the next image in the below sequence:

๐ŸŒ‘ ๐ŸŒ’ ๐ŸŒ“ ๐ŸŒ”

a) ๐ŸŒ‘

b) ๐ŸŒ“

c) ๐ŸŒ•

d) ๐ŸŒ’

The answer is c), the full moon is the next image in the sequence based on the lunar cycle.

Situational Judgment

When you arrive at work, one of your colleagues tells you that they have not been able to complete a part of a project that you have been working on together, and you need to present it to your manager this afternoon. What do you do?

a) Tell your manager that your colleague has not done their part

b) Try and put off the presentation to give your team more time to complete the project

c) Complete the project yourself

d) Work with the colleague to get the project completed.

This type of question can be complicated when it seems that there are several options that could solve the problem, you just need to choose the one that is most like the way you would act if you were already in the role.

Personality Questionnaire

Choose the statement that is most like you and the one that is least like you.

a) I like to work with other people

b) I prefer to complete my work in silence

c) I enjoy a challenge

d) I tend to take charge in a work situation

Personality questions need some serious self-reflection to be an honest representation of your personal traits and behavior at work.

Tips to prepare for the assessment

barclays cognitive ability assessment

1. Practice solving questions under timed conditions

One of the most challenging facets of any pre-employment assessment is unfamiliarity. Under less stressful conditions, the content of the tests would not be too challenging, as they are about your inherent skills and based on the knowledge gained from basic education.

For the best results, the more you can practice similar types of questions, the better your chances of feeling comfortable and familiar.

You can find practice tests online based on the types of questions that are asked in the Barclays cognitive ability assessment, and take these under exam conditions to get a better feel for what will happen in the real assessment.

Make sure that you use a timer so you get used to answering quickly.

2. Stay calm and focused during the assessment

When you are under exam pressure, especially when there is so much riding on success, it can be difficult to stay calm and focused.

Knowing what you are facing will make you more confident in the run-up to the assessment, but while you are in the exam situation it is always a good idea to take a deep breath and relax before you start answering each question - you are being timed, of course, but rushing could lead to you missing something.

Focus on one question at a time, know exactly what you need to do to answer, and if you get stuck - move on and come back at the end if you need to.

3. Check your answers thoroughly before submitting them

Before you move on to the next question, take the time to check that you are happy with your answer.

If the question is tough or you feel like you are taking too much time to answer it, leave it and move on - you can always come back at the end and try again, so you donโ€™t risk missing out on easier questions.

If you get time at the end, go through the assessment and check your answers before submitting.

4. Answer every question on the test

The Barclays Cognitive Ability Tests are positively marked, which means that there are no negative marks given for a wrong answer.

In practice, this means that it is better to answer every question, even if it is an educated guess - youโ€™ll have more chance of getting a point with an answer than without one.

5. Get a good nightโ€™s sleep

Looking after your body and mind is essential for success in pre-employment assessments. Your brain is essentially a machine, and it needs the right fuel to work properly.

What this means is that you need to make sure that you have eaten well, stay hydrated, and perhaps most importantly, had a good nightโ€™s sleep the night before.