A psychometric test is an assessment used to measure specific cognitive ability or personality in a standardised and structured way. Typically, an aptitude test will consist of a series of questions under timed conditions, where the student must answer to the best of their ability. Many aptitude tests are also adaptive, meaning the test will react to the student’s answers, becoming more or less difficult with each subsequent question.
What is being tested
The three most common of the cognitive abilities being assessed are numbers, words, and abstract logic. Equally, personality traits are assessed using psychometric personality tests.
Why are they used?
Students want to know why they are being asked to take yet another test.
Academic qualifications tell employers what you have learnt in the past. Psychometric tests measure your potential to learn. Many jobs require learning new skills quickly.
Students are measured equally using the same validated metrics. This allows for fairness and consistency when it comes to evaluating their aptitude for the role, rather than, say, phone interviews.
Psychometric tests are highly effective at predicting who is going to perform well in the job. Psychometric tests are better at predicting a good hire than many measures like CV sifting.
They can be taken online at home, which reduces the stress involved with travel and old pen and paper and allows those with special requirements to have a fair chance.
Why recruiters use them in the application process
Recruiters use psychometric reasoning tests because they allow for the assessment of numbers, words, and abstract logic – the three formats of information presented to them in the workplace.
Recruiters care most about a graduate’s potential. These tests give them a good understanding of the applicant’s potential. They are looking for people who will benefit most from the training and experience they are offering to become the business leaders and thinkers of the future.
How to Prepare
The best way to prepare for a test and maximise your chances of success is to practise. This enables you to:
- Become familiar with the question styles of the test.
- Gain experience in the types of thinking being assessed.
- Get used to answering the questions accurately within the time limits.
One quick tip for Numerical:
- Know what maths to expect
Numerical tests use a limited number of simple calculations. These include addition, subtraction, percentage, and ratios. Familiarise yourself with these before starting a test.
One quick tip for Verbal:
- Read the passage and the question together
To work fast, read the beginning of the passage first to gain context, then read the question to gauge what you’re looking for before continuing to read the passage.
One quick tip for Logical:
- Start with the easiest pattern
Naturally, some patterns are easier to spot than others. It’s a good idea to start with the easiest as this can quickly narrow down the answer options for you.
We recommend starting with some free practice tests available here:
- Test Partnership provide validated tests that you may encounter during your applications. They also provide free example tests on each test style page. Simply click the practice test link in the yellow box. Try their free numerical test here.
- AssessmentDay provide a comprehensive stock of practice materials, covering all major styles and all major test publishers.
- Team Focus have a suite of tests that are free for Surrey student to take.
- Surrey Pathfinder also has practice tests on a range of subjects.
Surrey students can get study support with maths and statistics from the library. You can find out more here.
Ben Hopgood is a Lead Content Producer at Test Partnership, specialising in content production and consultation material for psychometric reasoning tests. Ben has produced many questions and solutions for psychometrically validated tests, as well as tutorials on how they work.