Psychometric Tests

Psychometric Tests Psychometric tests are a common part of the recruitment and selection process and can be quite scary, but if you prepare well and are positive you can improve your chances of success. The resources in this section will help you to learn how to prepare for common selection tests.

Employers, particularly large graduate recruiters, often use a variety of selection tests to help them assess candidate’s aptitudes (skills), knowledge and personality; or to assess how you may respond in different situations.

Employers often get a large number of applications for their vacancies and they want to use a variety of methods to help them select the right people. Tests can help them to improve how they assess candidates to identify those most likely to succeed in the role and organisation.

Through seeing candidates in a range of situations, recruiters are able to more objective and accurate in assessing them. Tests give a recruiter another way of assessing the skills relevant to that job role and can be a cost effective way of assessing a large number of applicants.

Numerical reasoning tests – questions based on statistics, figures and charts measuring your ability to analyse, interpret and make conclusions from data in graphs and tables.

Verbal reasoning tests – assess your verbal logic and capacity to quickly digest information from passages of text measuring your ability to understand, think logically and draw conclusions from written information.

Diagrammatic reasoning tests – these tests measure your logical reasoning and are more commonly used for technical roles.

Situational judgement tests – assess your judgement in resolving work-based problems. Candidates are required to choose the most effective / least effective solution from a selection of work-related scenarios, or to rank all of them in order of effectiveness.

Inductive reasoning tests – also known as abstract reasoning, these tests assess how well a candidate can see the underlying logic in patterns.

Watson Glaser – critical reasoning test often used by legal firms which explore your ability to reason through an argument logically and make an objective decision.

Bar Course Aptitude Test (BCAT) – entry test for the Bar Professional Training Course with the same methodology as the Watson Glaser test.

In-tray exercises – these are work related scenarios which assesses your ability to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively.

Personality questionnaires – have no right or wrong answers (unlike aptitude tests), and don’t normally have a time limit. They assess the way you prefer to deal with / tend to respond to different situations and give the recruiter information about your preferences and behaviour e.g. relating to others, dealing with emotions (yours and other people’s), your motivations, determination and your general outlook.

Games-based Assessments – a number of graduate recruiters have started using gamified testing which testers suggest assess personality more reliably than questionnaires. These tests involve playing short rapid-response games or longer interactive scenarios.

Most people will not perform anywhere near as well as they are able the first time they do any particular test, as you need to get used to completing them. Make sure you perform at your best by getting plenty of practise through completing example tests to be sure that you are familiar with what to expect.

Try to practise tests by the same test publisher if possible, the employer will normally send you information in advance and supply some sample questions for you to practise.

USW Careers pays a subscription for USW students and alumni to access a full set of Practice Psychometric Tests (Aptitude Tests) by leading test publisher Assessment Day. These can be accessed using your normal USW login. We also have Personality Profiling tools available within Unilife Connect.

There are also lots of free practise tests available online, please see the section below for some of our favourite ones.

If you haven’t done any tests before or find them difficult then it can be a good idea to avoid doing the timed ones straight away, instead familiarise yourself with the process on some non-timed example tests first.

You may need to brush up on your maths and revise how to do calculations such as percentages, ratios and fractions, and (re)familiarise yourself with using a calculator. You can get help with numeracy skills from Student Development and Study Skills Service

For verbal tests, if you are not used to analysing lots of written information, practise by reading well-argued articles on unfamiliar topics and good broadsheet newspapers.

You should tell the employer if you have a disability and you feel that the test conditions may not enable you to give your best performance. Most employers will be used to making reasonable adjustments to the test conditions or awarding extra time for disabled candidates.

Test publishers often provide guidance to the employer in line with recommendations from educational psychologists around best practice.

The British Psychological Society guidelines for testing including disability, dyslexia.

Aptitude tests are designed to be challenging and are strictly timed, so you’ll need to be focussed and work hard throughout the test. Remember that tests are designed so that only a small percentage of candidates will finish all the questions, so there’s no need to be concerned if you don’t answer all of the questions.

Some tips:

  • Treat the test as you would any other exam. If you’re taking it at home, do it at a time when you are well rested and feel alert. Make sure you won’t be disturbed and have everything you need to hand e.g. calculator, scribble pad.
  • Pay attention to the test instructions and follow them exactly working as quickly and accurately as you can – speed and accuracy are both important.
  • Read question and answer choices carefully but don’t spend too long on any one question. Don’t get bogged down. If you are stuck on a difficult question, leave it and move on.
  • Try to eliminate as many wrong answers as possible e.g. with a numerical test a quick estimate may help you to rule out several options without fully calculating every alternative.
  • If you are going to an assessment centre, take a calculator you that you are familiar with – otherwise you will have to use whatever they provide you with.
  • Answer as many questions as possible in the time available, but watch out for negative marking.
  • Remember that multiple-choice options are often designed to confuse you, with incorrect choices including common mistakes that candidates make

If you haven’t done as well as you might have hoped on a test do remember that that there can be many reasons for poor performance such as not understanding what you had to do, working too slowly, too quickly or panicking, feeling ill or tired, or not concentrating due to having other things on your mind.

Having poor test results on one day do not necessarily mean that you can’t improve your performance at another test. Often there can be just a few marks between a poor score and a good score.

Practise some tests and consider talking to a Careers Adviser to talk about your test technique.

Below are some guides to help you with psychometric tests:

Psychometric TestsUSW Careers pays a subscription for USW students and alumni to access a full set of Practice Psychometric Tests (Aptitude Tests) from leading test publisher, Assessment Day, including Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning, Situational Judgement, Critical Thinking and In-Tray Exercises.
We also have Personality Profiling tools available (

Interview Tests & ExercisesAGCAS look at the different types of tests, including psychometric, assessment centres and help delivering presentations.

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