Psychometric tests are used in the recruiting process to assess the potential of a candidate’s cognitive ability or fit within an organisation.

You may not have encountered a psychometric test before, or perhaps have not yet succeeded in getting a good enough result to progress. Either way, our tips for passing these tests should help you increase your scores.

Psychometric tests take various forms depending on the role and provider. Common test types include numerical reasoning, mechanical aptitude, logical reasoning and verbal reasoning. They are almost always taken online.

One of the key differences between aptitude tests and academic exams is that you are not being tested on your knowledge; rather how you think and react.

While you cannot ‘revise’ as such because there is nothing to learn, there are lots of areas you can focus on to improve your chances of scoring highly when it matters. We’ve split our tips into two sections below: general advice, and tips for individual test types.

General psychometric test tips

1) Practise realistic online tests

Most psychometric tests are carried out online via your computer, so you should try to use practice tests that mimic those you will encounter (ie digital mock assessments are to be preferred over a book or ebook).

The various test providers also have different styles: some will ask you to interpret data and then select a multiple-choice answer; others might ask you to play an online game. Make sure you’re familiar with all the test publishers (see tip 6).

2) Identify and work on your weakest areas

As you practice and get results, you’ll be able to see which areas you tend to struggle with. Keep a note of the questions that you find hardest, and then practice more of those questions.

For example, you might find that you are struggling with verbal reasoning questions that have long paragraphs of text. Here, you could practice reading longer news articles at speed and then writing down all the salient points.

Many find numerical reasoning tests the most challenging; if that’s the case for you, check out our article on numerical test tips.

3) Get performance feedback

If you have taken psychometric tests before and didn’t progress to the next application stage, don’t forget to ask for feedback. It might be that you simply didn’t carry out the test quickly enough, or didn’t read the answers thoroughly and made poor assumptions.

All of these issues can be worked through with practice and preparation, but only if you know what the issues are.

4) Check all your technology is working well

Make sure that you are not hampered by a slow laptop or a poor internet connection. Also, ensure you know how to pause notifications and calls on your device, so that when you do take the tests you are not interrupted.

Have a back-up plan should, for example, your broadband not be working well on the day that you are due to take the test.

5) Broaden your knowledge and vocabulary

Particularly relevant for verbal reasoning, though it applies across the spectrum of tests. Spend time familiarising yourself with the skill of reading and understanding information that isn’t in your normal sphere.

Read different newspapers and academic texts. This will help broaden your vocabulary, which can aid with quicker comprehension.

psychometric assessment tips

Individual test tips

Once you have been invited to take a psychometric assessment for a specific company, try these tips to help you with your preparation.

6) Find out the tests the employer is likely to use

There are many different test providers with varying formats. The recruiter may specify which type of test provider they use, or you may be able to ascertain the information from their website. You can also consult our list of company tests for further details.

Once you have this information you can spend more time practising that specific style of test, so that you are familiar with the length and format, as well as the speed that you need to work through the questions.

7) Ascertain what the employer is looking for

Ensure you’re confident as to what attributes the employer is seeking in their perfect candidate. You might be able to pick up clues in the job description – for example, if the word ‘ambitious’ is mentioned, they may favour employees with a behaviour profile weighted towards risk-taking.

You can also make enquiries with others who have gone through the process as to whether they have any advice to pass on. Check Student Room and Glassdoor, and ask among your peers.

8) Check what tools are allowed and know how to use them

Make sure that you are prepared in terms of the rules of the test. Some tests let you use a calculator; for those, have one to hand and know how to work any relevant functions.

For any maths-based test where you aren’t allowed one, have paper and pencil to hand, and learn how to calculate basic functions such as adding percentages.

9) Check the timings and know when you need to move on

Most psychometric tests are timed, and this is usually taken into account when assessing each candidate. Remember that each question is either right or wrong (there are no marks for the way you achieve each question). As such, sometimes you’ll need to prioritise time taken over getting the correct answer.

You may find that you are provided with a rough time guide and a suggestion of how many questions will be asked. If so, calculate how long you have per question and stick to it.

10) Don’t rush reading the data for each question

That said, ensure that you have actually understood what each question is asking you without leaping to assumptions. It can be easy to select the wrong answer too quickly, particularly in the kind of question that is designed to catch you out.