Covering a range of topics – from data interpretation and manipulating 3D objects, to electrical circuits and your understanding of repairing machinery – the technical aptitude test is typically used by employers looking to hire engineers, technicians and mechanics.
The knowledge you’ll need to demonstrate is specialised and complex, so it’s not an overstatement to say the technical aptitude test is challenging. As well as having the basic knowledge required and demonstrating your understanding, you’ll also need to mentally solve a series of technical puzzles with detailed parts.
However, with the right practice and preparation there’s no reason you can’t ace a technical test. So, here are ten tips to set yourself up for success:
Step 1: Get the foundations in place
First, make a list of the basic principles you’re going to be tested on in the technical aptitude test.
The questions will vary depending on the test provider and company setting the test, but you can normally expect to see questions related to mechanical, spatial and numerical reasoning.
It’s also important to find out as much as you can about the job role and company you’re applying to. This can help you to improve your understanding of the skills and competencies they’re going to want to see candidates demonstrate on the test.
If you’re unsure of what you’ll need to revise, just ask.
Step 2: Practice past tests
It’s the single most important thing you can do to ensure success when it comes to taking the test that counts.
Make sure you take all past papers under exam conditions (that means timed, no distractions and no checking your notes), so you get used to what it will be like on the day.
And when you’ve completed a test, take the time to go back through your answers and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know which areas you struggle with, you can put more time into working on them.
Step 3: Find new ways to learn
Practice questions and tests are invaluable when it comes to getting used to the format of the test, but they’re not the only way to improve your skills.
If you want to keep your learning interesting, it might be time to think a little differently. Try online games that challenge your maths, rotating shapes using a mirror or assembling complex models using plans. You’ll be amazed at how much you can take in while enjoying yourself too.
Step 4: Master the mechanical questions
Ensuring you’ve got a detailed grasp of these mechanical concepts is important: pulleys, levers, springs, energy and gravity.
The questions tend to involve the practical application of your knowledge in order to solve a problem, so the more practice you can get in this area, the easier you’ll find the test.
Step 5: Get to grips with spatial questions
Spatial questions will focus on objects and your ability to understand them in a variety of contexts.
As well as looking at past papers, get creative with your revision so you can really understand how to manipulate shapes under pressure. For example, you could try drawing 2D objects in 3D, and vice versa. See more spatial reasoning tips here.
Step 6: Ensure you're comfortable with the numerical questions
A basic grasp of numerical concepts including fractions, percentages, graphs, ratios and data interpretation is really important if you want to do well at the numerical questions on the test.
As well as brushing up on your basic skills and practising numerical reasoning questions, you can also incorporate learning into your everyday life.
Try reading The Financial Times or The Economist to boost your understanding of complex numerical issues. Leave the calculator at home and calculate shopping or restaurant bills in your head, or convert everyday measurements from imperial to metric and vice versa.
Step 7: Watch out for trick questions
The test as a whole won’t be designed to trip you up, but there might be a few questions that are there to challenge you that little bit more.
The most important thing you can do is read the question thoroughly before trying to use your knowledge to work out the correct answer.
Even if you think your answer is too similar to one you’ve given previously – trust your gut instinct.
Step 8: Brush up on technical jargon
It’s all very well working on solving the problems you’re likely to encounter, but this won’t help you if you’re not confident with the terminology that’s used on the technical aptitude test.
Note down any unfamiliar words and look them up. It’s worth keeping these words or phrases in a list, and going back to test yourself on them.
Remember, it’s important to not just understand what the word or term refers to, but also what you might be expected to do if and when you see it come up on the test. Reading technical reports and media can help with this too.
Step 9: Have a plan for when you're unsure
In any test, it’s likely there will be at least one question you can’t answer. If that happens, don’t panic. There are a few things you can do to give you the best shot at getting it right.
First, try ignoring the answers and rereading the question, relying on your instinct to give you an answer, then see if anything matches up.
Second, eliminate anything you know to be incorrect.
Third, try to solve the problem using the principles you’ve learnt in your revision and see if you arrive at an answer similar to, or the same as, any left in the running.
Even if you’re still not sure, you’ve at least narrowed the possibilities down and given yourself a better chance than if you just guessed.
Step 10: Don't forget the basics
It sounds obvious but the basics are the foundations that help propel you to success.
As well as trying to get a good night’s sleep and ensuring you’ve eaten, drink plenty of water before the test, make sure you’ve brought any equipment you need (and are allowed) with you.
When you start, read the questions thoroughly and try to allocate a rough amount of time to spend on each question to stop you spending too long on difficult problems.
At the end of the test, if you have time, check your answers again.