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Testing Tools - Psychometric, Verbal and Numerical Reasoning

Aptitude, Ability and Skills Testing - How to succeed at Aptitude and Skills Testing including hints and tips.

Different types of testing

Different tools are used for different roles, for instance verbal reasoning for sales, spatial awareness for engineers, proof checking/data checking for administrative roles, etc.

Some test speed, others accuracy and the majority a combination of both speed and accuracy, i.e. someone who completes four accurate answers out of twenty will score higher than someone who completes eighteen and scores five out of twenty.  Different tools work to different algorithms and they can be adjusted to the role - i.e. an accountant is expected to calculate numbers at both speed and accuracy and a sales person should be able to reason arguments with both speed and accuracy.  Most tests are timed; multiple choice and often you must make the calculations in your head.

Although 'old hat' now, and now normally used as an 'icebreaker', you do still hear of the tests where you have to read all instruction before completing with the final instruction being 'write your name in the box, put your pen down and sit quietly for three minutes'.  Whilst having done so those around you work out the square root of 141,706 and draw concentric circles to form a Golden Eagle, stand up and shout 'I'm the Leader', etc.

Aptitude Tests

The basic aptitude, ability and skills tests assess the following: Your basic arithmetic, literacy;

Your verbal and numerical reasoning and your IT skills, technical skills, language skills, etc.  

More complex testing analyses the way in which your brain processes information, how logical and lateral a decision maker you are and how your emotions effect your decision making and performance.  Many tests are designed to analyse your 'raw brain horsepower' - how quickly and accurately can you deduce, assimilate and articulate information.  

Most testing is now conducted online but the more complex tests are undertaken in a strict exam-style environment.

Speed and Power Tests

Speed tests are timed and you are expected to answer as many questions as possible within the allotted time scale.  They tend to be pretty simple calculations but do often contain some 'red herrings'.  Power Tests tend to be more problem solving or scenario based questions and used in graduate and management assessment.  

Verbal Reasoning

Normally you will need to read a paragraph and answer questions that relate to the paragraph and require logical deduction.  Used to test how well you follow instruction and follow reasoned logical arguments they are often not as simple as they appear.  It is well worth reading the paragraph several times to ensure that you have understood the argument correctly.  Sometimes they are one paragraph arguments such as:

Karen is taller than Sam

Sam is shorter than Simon

Simon is taller than Karen

Who is the tallest?

The answer is Simon and if you read the paragraph understanding the requirement first, i.e. from the bottom up - 'who is the tallest?' - you'll answer round 10% more questions.

Your understanding of Spelling and grammar could also play a part in the tests.

Numerical Tests

In its most basic form it is a Maths test designed at 12-13 year old level and is no more than basic multiplication, division and percentages (unfortunately as we haven't used this type of arithmetic since those days it often fills us with trepidation!)  At more complex levels it could be how numbers relate to each other, for instance out of the numbers 5, 9, and 16 which of the numbers is numerically most distant from the average number. i.e. add them together = 30, divide by 3 equals 10 and 16 is most numerically distant from the average.  In the most complex tests at graduate and management selection levels it will often be a combination of interpreting data from varied sources - graphs, tables, etc. and requires cross-relation and manipulation.

Spatial Awareness Tests

Testing your ability to imagine shapes in relation to each other this requires high levels of visualization skills.  Often they are like 'tetris' shapes that you have to rotate to fit each other and a common test involves rotating a capital letter 'R' and it's mirror image to form matching pairs.  Spatial awareness tests are used for engineering, manufacturing, designing and technical jobs - even a leading removals firm uses them!  Men tend to score higher than women in spatial awareness tests but women fare slightly higher in all other forms of aptitude testing!

Mechanical Reasoning Tests

Used to test candidates for engineering roles - i.e. load bearing weights, simple electronic circuitry, etc.  Often in the form of a diagram and a 'what happens next' question!

Long Term memory tests

Most people raised in the Western World learned the alphabet at around 4-6 years of age.  The long term memory test assumes that the relation of letters to one another in the alphabet is deeply embedded in your long term memory.  An example of the test would be C, G, M - which of the letters is furthest away from the centre letter - the answer is M as it is 6 letters away from G whereas C is just 4 letters away from G.  Hint and tip: use your fingers - the letters are never more than nine letters apart!

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