PWC has recently announced that they will no longer be focusing on A level grades when selecting candidates for their highly competitive graduate scheme placements.

PWC’s new approach has come about because they believe a strong correlation exists between social class and school academic performance and they don’t want to preclude talented individuals from less affluent backgrounds. PWC is one of the largest graduate employers in the UK with each place that it offers typically around 17 applicants per place.

PWC’s focus on assessments

Now that PWC are taking the innovative and modern step and no longer focusing on A level grades their focus on alternative assessment methodologies such as psychometric testing is likely to increase. Psychometric tests are attractive to employers because, theoretically it is harder to prepare from them versus traditional examinations such as A levels.

PWC have for many years used an array of psychometric tests in their selection process. Numerical and verbal reasoning tests are very common in the PWC application process. PWC have also been known to include diagrammatic reasoning tests, situational judgement tests and assessment centre exercises as part of the selection process.

Preparing for PWC’s assessments

The good news is that it is possible to prepare for psychometric tests and like many other assessments the best way to improve is by investing time doing question practice. Question practice is the most effective way to improve performance and when preparing for a numerical reasoning test it’s a great way to improve your speed, accuracy, timing and confidence.

Large firms like PWC often reassess candidates at their assessment centre. While candidates find this frustrating because often they have already sat the tests remotely online prior to being invited to an assessment centre it is an effective way of discouraging and exposing those who try to undermine the psychometric test screening process by getting friends to help them with their online tests. This retesting makes it essential for applicants to properly prepare for their psychometric tests and pass without help from others.

PWC is the largest of the ‘big 4 accounting firms’ and a role model to many other professional services firms. With PWC focusing less on traditional candidate assessment criteria e.g. A levels this will certainly stimulate a review of assessment criteria at other firms and a diversion of focus to alternative assessment methods such as psychometric tests. Strong performance in psychometric tests and at assessment centres is becoming increasingly important because it is such an effective way to differentiate candidates.