Psychometric tests are structured online exercises, often in the form of multiple choice questions. They are designed to assess your reasoning abilities, or how you respond to different situations. The tests have been researched, designed and trialled by occupational psychologists to ensure that they are fair to all people sitting them. Your results are usually compared with how others have done in the tests.
- Top Tips
- Practise – The best way to prepare for psychometric tests is to sit a practice test. Have a look at the useful resources box on this page for details of how to access free online tests.
- Brush up your maths skills – If you are worried about your numeracy, there are some excellent resources to help you refresh your basic mathematical skills.
- Follow the instructions carefully – Make sure that you know exactly what you are required to do and complete any examples provided before you start the test.
- Work quickly and accurately – Do not spend too long on any one question and keep an eye on the clock.
- Answer honestly – In personality questionnaires, do not try to guess what they want to hear. Be true to yourself.
- Cognitive/Ability tests
Also known as aptitude tests, these aim to assess your logical or thinking performance; they are not tests of general knowledge. Tests are strictly timed and questions have definite right and wrong answers which you often have to select from a range of alternatives. Your score (the number of questions you get right) will be compared with a norm group (made up of similar people for fairness) who completed the test previously. This enables selectors to assess your scores in relation to others and to make judgements about your ability to cope with the tasks involved in the job/course.
The most commonly used types are:
- verbal reasoning
- numerical reasoning
- diagrammatic/spatial/abstract reasoning
- Situational Judgement tests
Situational judgement tests are work simulation exercises: you will usually be given a range of scenarios and asked to select your preferred reaction from a range of multiple-choice options or, sometimes, rank options in order of preference.
When completing these exercises, make sure you answer honestly - but also keep the employer's requirements in mind. For example, if an employers wants recruits to take on responsibility from the start, don't consistently choose the option "I will ask my manager".
- Personality questionnaires
Your success in a job depends not only on your abilities, but also on your personal qualities. Interviews and group exercises can be used to assess social skills but, in addition, personality questionnaires can further explore the way you tend to react to, or deal with, different situations. These sorts of questionnaires gather information about how and why you do things in your own particular way.
Unlike cognitive tests there are no right or wrong answers and questionnaires are not usually timed. The profile drawn up from your responses can sometimes be used to structure subsequent interviews with questions on specific attributes relevant to the competencies for the role.
Some employers now also use games to assess a candidate's personality. Don't be fooled into thinking these don't matter! How you engage with these games, whether you learn from mistakes or failures will be analysed in the background by an AI. Concentrate and play your best game.
- How to prepare
There are many websites that offer free practice exercises for psychometric and personality tests. You can access a section of these resources here. Some tips when practising:
- Practise basic mental arithmetic with and without a calculator. You will usually be asked to make calculations and extract information from charts and graphs.
- Try word games, mathematical teasers and puzzles with diagrams to get you into a logical and analytical frame of mind.
- Practise extracting the main points from passages of information and summarising their meaning.
- For situational judgement tests, make sure you understand the employer's requirements.
- Some tests are designed to ask more questions than you can probably finish.
- Make sure you are well rested before taking a test.