What is an Aptitude Test?

An aptitude test is most often used as part of the pre-employment screening process when you are applying for all sorts of jobs in every industry.

There are many different types of aptitude tests available, and several different publishers create aptitude tests suitable for different roles. Recruitment teams use aptitude tests as an effective tool to predict how successful an applicant will be and help make reliable hiring decisions. They enhance productivity and are better for staff retention as candidates that score highly on aptitude tests will perform better in the role.

The aptitude test is about current cognitive ability; the inherent skill a candidate has in reasoning and thinking to solve problems.

Common aptitude tests include:

  • Verbal reasoning - reading and understanding written data, and using the information included in that to reach a reasoned and logical conclusion.
  • Numerical reasoning - reading and understanding numerical data, usually in tables and graphs, and reaching a reasoned and logical decision (often using basic mathematical operations).
  • Logical reasoning - using either (or both) inductive and deductive logic to think about a problem and come up with a reasoned answer.
  • Mechanical reasoning - using basic physics and mechanical understanding to solve problems.
  • Situational judgment tests - scenario-based questions looking at work behavior and personality traits

The aptitude test is used in recruitment because it is not a measure of education level or qualification, or even directly of experience. There is no need to study for the test; it is designed to test a candidate on their current level of skill and aptitude - and their ability to learn quickly, make connections, and think outside the box.

Aptitude tests are also used by management and HR for employees already in a role to identify areas for development and strengths in staff - so that self-development plans can be put in place for promotions.

can you fail an aptitude test?

Pass & Fail Marks For Aptitude Tests

The problem when it comes to knowing how well you need to perform in an aptitude test is that the pass rate depends on a lot of factors, including what type of test it is, the publisher that created it, and the level of the role that you have applied for.

There are two ways that your score might be used by the recruitment team. The raw score is usually presented as a percentage and is simply the number of correct answers out of the top score available.

In most cases, the way your score will be used is as a percentile. This is a comparison of your score against other test takers or a ‘norm group’ of previous test takers. If your score is the 85th percentile, that means you have performed better than 85% of the other test takers.

Test Type Average Passing Score
Verbal Reasoning 70%
Numerical Reasoning 50%
Logical Reasoning 70%-80%
Mechanical Reasoning 80%
Situational Judgement 70%-80%

What Happens If You Fail An Aptitude Test?

If you are taking an aptitude test as part of the recruitment process for a new role, then these assessments are an essential part - you need to pass them to be considered for the position that you have applied for.

This means that if you fail the aptitude tests that you have been set, your application will likely be rejected and you will not be taken further in the recruitment process. Knowing what score you need to pass might help, but in most cases, it is best to just perform as well as you can to ensure that you exceed that benchmark.

Can You Retake An Aptitude Test If You Fail?

In almost all cases, the only way you will be able to retake an aptitude test if you do not reach the required standard is to reapply for the job and go through the recruitment process again.

If you do have the opportunity to retake the aptitude test for the job you have applied for, then it is a good idea to do all you can to make sure that you do pass the second time.

aptitude test fail

How to maximize your chances of not failing an aptitude test

Tip 1 - Know what test you will be taking

The more you know about the pre-employment assessments that you are facing, the better you will be able to be prepared for what is to come.

If, for example, you are going to take a verbal reasoning test, you will be able to look for practice tests to take online and work on your reading and comprehension skills.

If you can find out what publisher has created the test, you will have even more information available to use.

Tip 2 - Brush up on key skills

Some of the most popular aptitude tests like verbal reasoning and numerical reasoning are based on things that you will have learned in school.

To improve these skills, you should think about choosing to read more widely, specifically from business-related sources like news and journals.

You should also look over your basic maths skills, especially simple operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) as well as get comfortable with working with percentages, fractions, and ratios.

For logic tests, completing puzzles and playing ‘brain training’ mobile phone games will keep you sharp and thinking logically.

Tip 3 - Take practice tests

When you know what test you are taking (and what publisher is producing the test), you can find practice tests online.

Taking practice tests will help you perform better in the assessment because not only will you become more familiar with the structure, content, and layout of the assessment you will also feel more comfortable with the whole test experience - including working under time pressure.

Most aptitude assessments are timed, and they require you to answer both quickly and accurately to be successful.

Tip 4 - Prepare yourself

Before the assessment, make sure that you have had enough sleep, you have eaten well, and you are properly hydrated.

You want to give your brain the best fuel to perform, and rest, food, and hydration are important.

Tip 5 - Take your time, but not too much

Timed assessments put candidates under pressure, and this can make even the applicants with the aptitudes needed for the role fail.

Practicing aptitude test(s) can help with this, but when you are taking the assessment you can give yourself more of a chance by taking the time to read the question thoroughly before you start answering. The time limit is short, but it should be enough to read and understand each question as well as answer it.

Don’t take too much time on the questions that stump you though - move on and come back to it at the end if you have time so that you do not miss out on the questions that are easier.