GUEST BLOG: Online tests – why employers use them and top tips about them

Aptitude tests

Guest blog written by Laura Blackledge, Student Recruitment Officer at PwC.

Here Laura talks about online tests and some useful tip on how to be successful. 

During the PwC recruitment process for Undergraduate work experience (first year opportunities, summer internships and placement years) and Graduate roles online psychometric tests are used in the initial selection. We also require candidates to complete psychometric tests when they attend Assessment Centres, the second stage in our recruitment process.

Online psychometric tests are the most reliable indicator of a candidate’s ability to perform in the role they’re applying to. Our research suggests that many companies in the Top 100 Graduate Recruiters list use psychometric testing in their selection processes.

“Psychometrics” (from the Greek mind and to measure) are used to measure aspects of a person’s skills, abilities, or personality. Ability tests are the most commonly used in graduate recruitment and include, for example verbal, logical and numerical tests which relate to the tasks involved to do a job.

Ability tests are the same for everyone.

Candidates come from different universities and have studied different courses. Putting them through the same tests enables recruiters to compare them to the other applicants regardless of their academic background. Psychometric tests are standardised and designed to be the same for every applicant. As such, testing is fair and objective and everyone has the same experience and an equal opportunity to perform.

Different types of Psychometric ability tests:

Numerical reasoning tests give individuals an opportunity to make decisions or inferences from numerical data, presented in reports, graphs and tables. This goes beyond simple use of data; when doing a numerical reasoning test individuals demonstrate their ability to plan, prioritise and analyse data, see trends and follow numerical reasoning and logic.

These skills are relevant to a range of functions that require working with money or finance, also general management, finance and sales to data processing.

If you have a numerical reasoning test coming up you could prepare by

  • Remind yourself of the basics of mathematics, with and without using a calculator. Can you calculate percentages, ratios, fractions, currency conversions etc.?
  • Read the financial section of a quality daily newspaper. It will help familiarise you with financial and numerical information.
  • Look at numbers presented in tables and charts and see if you can establish the relationships between the numbers.
  • Practise doing maths puzzles. Such as adding up your shopping bill in your head, especially if discounts are applied to the price; keep the score of a game you are playing (like darts or cards).
  • Verbal reasoning tests measure your ability to reason with and to evaluate the logic of verbal information. The process is similar to the skills required to summarise large reports and extract verbal data at meetings. It’s very relevant for roles that require analysis of verbal information.

If you have a verbal reasoning test coming up you could prepare by:

  • Read newspapers, journals, reports and books
  • Have a go at solving verbal reasoning puzzles for example crosswords or word finding games
  • Practice reading passages of information and summarising the key points.

Logical reasoning is a measure of reasoning, which is independent of an individual’s numerical or verbal ability. The test provides an opportunity to work through problems and isolate information or rules that are relevant to solving the problems. This sort of reasoning is relevant for jobs which require the capacity to learn new things and work through complex problems in a logical, systematic and analytical manner.

If you have a logical reasoning test coming up you could prepare by:

  • You can sharpen your logical reasoning ability by doing abstract or shape-based puzzles
  • Review diagrams you have at home, such as manuals for electric circuits of your household appliances or self-assembly instructions for furniture. Try to understand the manufacturer’s presentation of the information, then draw one of your own
  • Take some time to play sequence or strategy games like draughts or chess, make an effort to plan your moves ahead of time, considering the reactions that would result
  • Think about the sequenced tasks you’d do. What steps would you take when planning a holiday?

As with any test, make sure that you:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the session
  • Listen to what you’re asked to do. Pay full attention to test instructions
  • Read through questions carefully
  • Work through quickly but accurately
  • Listen carefully to the instructions and ask if anything is unclear
  • Make sure you understand the answers to the example questions
  • When you’re being timed, work as quickly and accurately as you can
  • If you’re not sure of an answer, mark your best guess and move on, but avoid making random guesses
  • Don’t waste time on a question you don’t understand. Go back to them if you have time at the end
  • If you have time when you’ve completed the test, go back and check your answers.
  • Take a watch along so that you can manage your time.

Click on the link for placement opportunities with PwC.