Aptitude Tests: My Free Jobseeker’s Guide (2020)



An aptitude test is a systematic means of testing a job candidate’s abilities to perform specific tasks and react to a range of different situations.
The tests each have a standardised method of administration and scoring, with the results quantified and compared with all other test takers.
No prior knowledge is assumed, as employers seek to determine innate ability at a particular competency.
Aptitude tests are usually taken online or at a testing centre, such as a firm’s offices, where they can be electronic or paper-based.

The secret to not being intimidated by tests?



These are the most common types of aptitude test that you will encounter:

Numerical reasoning tests

These tests require you to answer questions based on statistics, figures and charts.

Verbal reasoning tests

A means of assessing your verbal logic and capacity to quickly digest information from passages of text.

Intray exercises

A business-related scenario that assesses how well you can prioritise tasks.

Diagrammatic tests

Tests that measure your logical reasoning, usually under strict time conditions.

Situational judgement tests

Psychological tests that assess your judgement in resolving work-based problems.

Inductive reasoning tests

Tests that identify how well a candidate can see the underlying logic in patterns, rather than words or numbers.

Cognitive ability tests

A measurement of general intelligence, covering many categories of aptitude test.

Mechanical reasoning tests

These assess your ability to apply mechanical or engineering principles to problems; they are often used for technical roles.

Watson Glaser tests

Designed to assess a candidate’s ability to critically consider arguments; often used by law firms.

Abstract reasoning tests

Another name for inductive reasoning tests.

Spatial awareness tests

These tests assess your capacity to mentally manipulate images, and are often used in applications for jobs in design, engineering and architecture.

Error checking tests

An unusual type of aptitude test that focuses on your ability to identify errors in complex data sets.

Test Structure for Aptitude Tests

Tests are timed and are typically multiple choice. It is not uncommon for some available answers to be deliberately misleading, so you must take care as you work through.

Some tests escalate in difficulty as they progress. Typically these tests are not designed to be finished by candidates.


Your score relates your performance to an average group. Your aptitude, ability or intelligence has a relative value to this average result.

An ‘average’ performance is all that is required to pass an aptitude test.

Most employers take people’s backgrounds into consideration for marking.

For example, maths graduates will have an unfair advantage over arts graduates on a numerical test.


Many aptitude tests incorporate negative marking. This means that for every answer you give incorrectly, a mark will be deducted from your total (rather than scoring no mark). If this is the case, you will normally be told beforehand.

In any test that does incorporate negative marking, you must not guess answers, even if you are under extreme time pressure, as you will undo your chances of passing.


Evidence suggests that some practice of similar aptitude tests may improve your performance in the real tests. Practice exam technique and try to become more familiar with the types of test you may face by completing practice questions.

Even basic word and number puzzles may help you become used to the comprehension and arithmetic aspects of some tests.


Treat aptitude tests like an interview: get a good night’s sleep, plan your journey to the test site, and arrive on time and appropriately dressed. Listen to the instructions you are given and follow them precisely.

Before the actual aptitude test itself, you will almost certainly be given practice examples to try. Make sure you ask questions if anything is unclear at this stage.

You will normally be given some paper on which to make rough workings. Often you can be asked to hand these in with the test, but typically they do not form part of the assessment



You should work quickly and
accurately through the test.

Don’t get stuck on any particular question: should you have any problems, return to it at the end of the test. You should divide your time per question as accurately as you can – typically this will be between 50 and 90 seconds per question.

Remember that the tests are difficult and often you will not he expected to answer all the questions. Be particularly cautious if the aptitude test uses negative marking; if this is not the case, answer as many questions as possible in the time given.

Remember that multiple-choice options are often designed to mislead you, with incorrect choices including common mistakes that candidates make.


These five tips are well worth remembering before you take an aptitude test for real:
Treat the test like you would any other exam.
Work swiftly and accurately through any test.
Work out the maximum time you can spend on any question and stick to it religiously. You can return to questions at the end. Never get stuck on any particular question, even if you think you nearly have it.
If you are going to an assessment centre, take a calculator you understand with you. If you do not, you will be forced to use whatever they might provide you with.
Answer as many questions as possible in the time given. But be wary of negative marking.

Useful Resources:

Aptitude Tests. Find out more here https://www.studentjob.co.uk/blog/1717-a-beginner-s-guide-to-aptitude-tests and take a range of free practice tests https://www.wikijob.co.uk/aptitude-tests-home

Psychometric Tests. Find out more about Psychometric tests https://www.wikijob.co.uk/content/aptitude-tests/test-types/what-psychometric-test

SHL. Take SHL simulator tests https://www.cebglobal.com/shldirect/en/practice-tests