Aptitude and ability tests are designed to assess your logical
reasoning or thinking performance. They consist of multiple choice
questions and are administered under exam conditions. They are
strictly timed and a typical test might allow 30 minutes for 30 or
so questions. Your test result will be compared to that of a
control group so that judgments can be made about your abilities.
You may be asked to answer the questions either on paper or
online. The advantages of online testing include immediate
availability of results and the fact that the test can be taken at
employment agency premises or even at home. This makes online
testing particularly suitable for initial screening as it is
obviously very cost-effective.
Aptitude and ability tests can be classified as
speed tests or power tests. In
speed tests the questions are relatively straightforward and the
test is concerned with how many questions you can answer correctly
in the allotted time. Speed tests tend to be used in selection at
the administrative and clerical level. A power test on the other
hand will present a smaller number of more complex questions.
Power tests tend to be used more at the professional or managerial
There are at least 5000 aptitude and ability tests on the market.
Some of them contain only one type of question (for example,
verbal ability, numeric reasoning ability etc) while others are
made up of different types of question.
First Things First
The first thing to do is to determine which type of questions you
are going to be asked. Don't waste time practicing questions that
won't appear in the actual test. Types of question can be
classified as follows:
Verbal Ability - Includes
spelling, grammar, ability to understand analogies and follow
detailed written instructions. These questions appear in most
general aptitude tests because employers usually want to know how
well you can communicate.
Numeric Ability - Includes basic
arithmetic, number sequences and simple mathematics. In management
level tests you will often be presented with charts and graphs
that need to be interpreted. These questions appear in most
general aptitude tests because employers usually want some
indication of your ability to use numbers even if this is not a
major part of the job.
Abstract Reasoning - Measures your
ability to identify the underlying logic of a pattern and then
determine the solution. Because abstract reasoning ability is
believed to be the best indicator of fluid intelligence and your
ability to learn new things quickly these questions appear in most
general aptitude tests.
Spatial Ability - Measures your
ability to manipulate shapes in two dimensions or to visualize
three-dimensional objects presented as two-dimensional pictures.
These questions not usually found in general aptitude tests unless
the job specifically requires good spatial skills.
Mechanical Reasoning - Designed to
assess your knowledge of physical and mechanical principles.
Mechanical reasoning questions are used to select for a wide range
of jobs including the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude
Battery), police forces, fire services, as well as many craft,
technical and engineering occupations.
Fault Diagnosis - These tests are
used to select technical personnel who need to be able to find and
repair faults in electronic and mechanical systems. As modern
equipment of all types becomes more dependent on electronic
control systems (and arguably more complex) the ability to
approach problems logically in order to find the cause of the
fault is increasingly important.
Data Checking - Measure how quickly
and accurately errors can be detected in data and are used to
select candidates for clerical and data input jobs.
Work Sample – Involves a sample of
the work that you will be expected do. These types of test can be
very broad ranging. They may involve exercises using a word
processor or spreadsheet if the job is administrative or they may
include giving a presentation or
in-tray exercises if the job is
management or supervisory level.
Don't Waste Time
Spend your preparation time wisely. Most people find themselves
with only one or two weeks to prepare for aptitude tests - don't
worry, this is enough time provided that you are systematic.
- You must find out what type of questions you are going to
face even if this means asking.
- Use the information on this website to get an idea of the
different types of questions.
- Download and look at a sample paper for each type of
question you are expecting to face.
- Go through one paper of each type and see how you get on.
- Decide on a practice strategy.
- Practice one paper a day right up until the actual test.
If in Doubt - Ask!
If you are unsure what types of question to expect then ask the
human resources people at the organization you are applying to.
This will not count against you in any way and they should be only
too happy to tell you. You have a right to prepare yourself for
any tests you are asked to sit.
Don't Make Assumptions
Try not make any assumptions. For example, many people assume that
they won't have any problems with verbal ability questions because
they once got an 'A' in English. They may have a point if they got
the 'A' a few months ago, but what if it was ten years ago? It is
very easy to ignore the effects of not reading as much as you used
to, and of letting your spell-checker take care of correcting your
The same thing applies to numerical ability. Most people who have
been out of education for more than a few years will have
forgotten how to multiply fractions and calculate volumes. While
it is easy to dismiss these as 'first grade' or elementary maths,
most people simply don't do these things on a day-to-day basis.
So, don't assume anything - it's better to know for sure.
Deciding on a Practice Strategy
You should make your own decision about which types of question to
practice. You could either concentrate on your weakest area or you
could try to elevate your score across all areas. Whichever
strategy you choose - keep practicing. Because of the way that
aptitude tests are marked, even
small improvements to your
will have a big influence on your chances of
getting the job.
Question Types and Scoring >