It is perfectly normal to feel some stress and
nervousness when you are told that you need to prepare for an aptitude test as part of the selection process. This can be a
particular problem if you haven’t taken this type of test before.
Most of the nervousness is simply a fear of the unknown and a
feeling that you will ‘let yourself down’ and that the test will
not be a fair reflection of your strengths and abilities.
The most effective solution is to take direct action and prepare for aptitude tests in the most systematic and efficient way possible. You can influence your scores in these tests significantly by understanding the question types and practicing them. Not only will this improve your test scores and increase the chance of you getting to the next stage of the selection process, but by taking positive action you will tackle the cause of the stress directly.
Aptitude tests are structured, pencil and paper (or sometimes computer-based) exercises, often presented in the form of multiple-choice questions. They are designed to assess your reasoning abilities independently of your academic or cultural background. The tests that are used in the job recruitment and selection process can be classified as follows:
Abstract Reasoning Tests
Assess your ability to understand complex concepts and assimilate new information beyond previous experience. The test items require you to recognize patterns and similarities between shapes and figures. As a measure of reasoning it is independent of attainment and can be used to provide an indication of intellectual potential.
Numeric Ability Tests
Assess your ability to use numbers in a logical and rational way. These tests require only a basic level of education in order to successfully complete and are therefore measuring numerical ability rather than educational achievement. The test items involve number series, numerical transformations, relationships between numbers and numerical computations.
Assess your ability to perceive and understand concepts and ideas expressed verbally. While these test are designed to measure reasoning ability rather than educational achievement, it is generally recognised that verbal reasoning test scores are sensitive to educational factors.
Assess your ability to manipulate shapes in two dimensions or to visualize three-dimensional objects presented as two-dimensional pictures. There is a strong correlation between high spatial visualization skills and success in science and mathematics.
Mechanical Aptitude Tests
Assess your understanding of physical and mechanical principles including an understanding of cause-effect relationships between mechanical components. Mechanical reasoning tests 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 engineering occupations.
Some organizations apply psychometric testing in ways that are directly relevant to the job. For example, you may only have to take a numerical reasoning test if the job you're applying for requires good numerical skills. However, many organizations use a battery of tests as a matter of routine irrespective of the particular demands of the job. In either case your best strategy is to ask what types of test you are expected to take and prepare for aptitude tests thoroughly.
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