Whether you are applying for a university course or for your dream job, facing aptitude tests can feel like a real barrier to getting that placement that you have your heart set on.
Aptitude tests are increasingly being used as pre-employment screening assessments, part of the recruitment process for many different roles or courses. They might test ability, aptitude or skills, while some look at work behaviour and personality traits.
For recruiters, they are an accurate predictor of future success in a role, and the results provide quantifiable data that can be used to narrow down a large candidate pool to just those applicants that have the necessary abilities.
Why you may be tempted to cheat
As a candidate facing online aptitude tests, the temptation to cheat on the assessment is easy to understand. When a 20-minute test is all that stands between you and your future, taking the test properly can seem daunting.
Knowing that a lot rides on the results can make people think that the end justifies the means - after all, nobody gets hurt by cheating on these tests, and if you don’t pass, you won’t be able to move forward in getting that dream job or that perfect course placement.
Some people might consider cheating on their online aptitude test because they do not have faith in their own ability. This might include people who are well qualified and even experienced in the role that they have applied for, but they just don’t cope well in exam situations.
Some people might be too anxious, or they might not be able to work effectively when under time pressure.
Other candidates might be motivated to cheat because they are not prepared for the testing, they are concerned that they have not got the required level of skill or knowledge to be able to pass.
For some applicants, the idea of mass testing is seen as unfair; that algorithms used in online assessments are inherently unable to demonstrate a candidate’s suitability for a role.
These people might think that aptitude tests are only good at showing which candidates can test well, rather than those who will perform well if hired.
When it comes to applying for that perfect course or dream role, some people will do almost anything to get ahead.
Ways to cheat in an online aptitude test
The online aptitude test environment does seem to make it easy to cheat, and there are a few different ways that candidates might consider giving themselves a head start, including:
For those who are unsure of their own level of competence, working with someone else on the test could give them a boost.
Teamwork allows a candidate to be able to confer with someone else about what the right answer could be, and takes some of the pressure off.
Get someone else to take it
This could be as simple as asking a clever friend to take the assessment on your behalf. If you don’t think you can accurately answer the questions, then you could ask someone you know to sit it for you. The computer won’t know that it isn’t you taking the test in many cases.
There are some places online where you can pay for someone to take the test for you, which is meant to guarantee you a pass mark in whichever assessment you are taking.
Tools and technology
Depending on the type of assessment you are taking, you might consider using something like a calculator to help you work out the answer.
For some types of online tests, the questions are presented on consecutive pages. Some cheaters will take screenshots of each question as they take the test, and then switch off their internet connection towards the end.
By claiming that they had an internet drop to the test administrators, the cheater can then restart the assessment and face the questions that they already know the answer to.
What are the risks of cheating on an online aptitude test?
Employers and test publishers know that cheating can happen when testing takes place remotely, and there are several different techniques that they will use to weed out the cheaters. Some of these techniques include:
In some cases, the last stage of a recruitment process is an invitation to an assessment centre. This usually happens at one of the offices of the business, and the candidates are under assessment throughout the day while they work through different exercises.
During the assessment centre, candidates are asked to retake the aptitude tests to verify their answers. The scores are compared to those achieved in the online tests, and discrepancies will be investigated.
Huge question banks
Screenshotting the previous questions and restarting the assessment will not work with major test publishers, as they draw random questions from a large bank for each assessment.
In almost all cases, you will not get the same question twice, even if you manage to take the test three or four times.
When the IP address that the test is taken on does not match the IP address used for the rest of the application information, that is a big red flag for a recruiter.
This usually means that the person that took the test is not the person who applied for the role.
This can be especially problematic when cheaters hire someone else to take the test for them, as those IP addresses might already be flagged and blacklisted.
Getting caught cheating can have more consequences than you might think.
Of course, the most obvious consequence is that you will be immediately discounted for the role you have applied for, and your application will be terminated. This is likely to also mean that you will not be considered for any other roles or courses at the establishment you have applied for.
The tests themselves are usually created by specific test publishers, who spend a lot of time working out how to prevent cheating (and catch those who are). These publishers could keep records of your cheating, which means that you would be unable to take any of their tests in the future - which could make it difficult for you to get a different job, or apply for another course.
Is it worth it?
Even if you don’t get caught, cheating on a pre-employment assessment could leave you in a position where you are not qualified or skilled enough to do the role that you applied for.
The skills and aptitude tests are designed to ensure that each applicant has the right level of competency to be successful - and if you cannot reach that level in testing, the likelihood is that you will not be able to do the job competently.
Your future is in your hands, and it is for this reason that there is no shortcut to success - you should instead take the time to study and practice so you can get the result that you deserve.
Most aptitude tests are relatively simple in content, based on principles and ideas that you will have learned in school, but it is the layout, structure, and time limit that can make them challenging. The easiest way to improve your chances of getting the results that you need is to prepare, and you can do this by:
- Taking practice tests - so you know the structure and get familiar with working under the time limit
- Revising - areas in the test where you didn’t score as highly should be the focus of your studying; aim to improve your knowledge in these areas.
- Considering study aids - there are plenty of online resources available that you could use to bolster your revision, and these can be publisher-specific study guides or prep packs.
Taking the time to prepare will mean that you will get a passing score in your aptitude tests because you deserve it, not because you cheated.