Aptitude Tests: An Honest Introduction for Jobseekers
Updated October 4, 2023
Aptitude tests are short tests employers use to assess whether a candidate has the level of competency necessary for success in the role.
The tests are used to see if a candidate has the skills necessary to do the job.
Aptitude tests are standardized, for the most part, and the results of all the candidates are compared to each other to see which candidate may be the best for the job.
Aptitude tests provide employers with a quick way to assess a candidate’s ability to perform in high-pressure situations and think in critical ways as they would if they were on the job.
History has shown that candidates who score well on aptitude tests are the ones most likely to perform well during training, onboarding and as a full-fledged employee.
In general, these tests will measure a candidate’s critical thinking skills, attention to detail, problem-solving skills and their ability to learn and then use new information in a short period of time.
While these tests won’t necessarily tests candidates on their ability to perform a specific job within a company, they will give the employer a general sense of how well a candidate can think on their toes and demonstrate critical-thinking skills that would be reflective of the type of thinking they’ll need to do on the job.
Broadly speaking there are three types of aptitude tests:
- Verbal reasoning tests which assess your ability to understand and interpret written information. Click here for a verbal reasoning practice test.
- Numerical reasoning tests which assess your ability to understand and use numbers. Click here for a numerical reasoning practice test.
- Inductive reasoning tests (also known as spatial or abstract reasoning tests) which assess your ability to see patterns in data and work flexibly with unfamiliar information. Click here for an inductive reasoning practice test.
Bonus: Get free unlimited access to test practice (for 30 minutes) on our partner website JobTestPrep.
Aptitude tests are typically quite short, often less than 15 minutes long, and are usually completed online nowadays.
Tests generally have challenging time limits and often increase in difficulty throughout the test.
This is to put the candidate under pressure and try to understand what their maximum level of performance is.
Typically, tests present the candidate with some information and ask them to use this information to answer a question, usually providing a number of possible answers.
The more questions the candidate answers correctly within the time limit, the better their score will be.
While some aptitude tests will only focus on one type of thinking (either verbal or numerical reasoning, for example) some will have multiple sections that will test various different types of skills.
A multi-part assessment such as that will often take about an hour to complete.
Each section will be comprised of roughly 10 to 30 questions, depending on how complex each question is on a particular test.
Basically, if there are more complex questions, the assessment section will have fewer questions.
The position for which the aptitude test is being administered for may also determine the complexity and length of the assessment, i.e., the higher-level the job, the more questions and more complex questions are likely to be asked.
Aptitude test are norm referenced.
This means that your performance on the test will be compared to a “norm group.”
A norm group is a group of people with similar characteristics to the candidate, a group of graduate trainees for example.
Your score will be compared to the scores of the people in the norm group, and this will allow the assessor to understand your performance relative to others who are similar to you.
Usually, a candidate’s score is expressed as a percentile.
This, then, tells the assessor what percentage of the norm group their performance surpassed.
If a candidate scored on the 75th percentile, for example, they have performed better than 75 percent of the norm group.
Each particular employer may have a different performance level required for specific positions.
Sometimes, this percentile score is ascribed a grade, just like percentages are assigned grades in school.
To be successful, the candidate must achieve a level of performance that exceeds a stated minimum.
However, the candidate will usually not know what the minimum score requirement is before they take the aptitude test.
Aptitude tests are often used as part of a screening process for a job.
In fact, an increasing number of employers are using aptitude tests as a tool to help them pre-screen candidates.
With the unemployment rate as low as it is today, employers can expect a very large pool of candidates for open positions that they post.
Administering aptitude tests allows companies to narrow down this large pool of candidates to a more refined group that may be more qualified for the job.
The assessments are often used as a pre-cursor to a formal interview, at the beginning of the recruitment cycle, after an initial pool of candidates are eliminated through resume reviews.
The assessments allow employers to quickly identify candidates who do not have the verbal/numerical/inductive competence necessary for success in the role and remove them from the process.
As such they are usually presented early on within a selection process, and a candidate must achieve a defined level of performance in order to proceed through to the next level of assessment, such as an interview, for example.
This is why it’s so important for employers to have the ability to use a comparison tool to separate the best candidates from the rest of the pack.
Aptitude tests are normally conducted online.
As such, they could be open to cheating, as the assessor can’t be certain who actually took the test.
Because of this, some employers may have candidates take another form of aptitude test when they come in for an interview, just to validate their performance on the initial screening.
Aptitude tests aren’t only used to weed out the contenders from the pretenders, though.
Employers often use the results of the tests in conjunction with how a candidate has performed in an interview to make a final hiring decision.
Combined, the two modes of assessment will often give employers a clear picture as to each candidate’s ability to get along with others, problem solve, write well and reason.
Aptitude tests are designed to be challenging.
To ensure that you do as well as you possibly can, there really is no substitute for practice.
There are some few basic tips when you are preparing for and practicing for an aptitude test.
First, see if you can find out which aptitude test (or tests) the employer is going to be administering.
You can either ask the employer directly, or you can see if you can find some information on the internet via basic research.
If you are able to verify the exact test or tests the employer will be administering, then you can practice on just that specific test.
If not, then you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a range of the most common aptitude tests.
Ensure you take the time to familiarize yourself with the sorts of questions that are on the tests, and ideally take a few practice tests.
This will give you a feel for what is involved and help you identify whether there are any areas you need to work on.
Numerical reasoning tests, for example, often benefit from a refresher of basic math techniques.
To this end, you can review statistical interpretation problems, as well as review charts and graphs.
You can practice your logical thinking skills by completing pattern games or puzzles.
You can work on your verbal reasoning by simply reading magazines or newspapers, thinking about the various ways a story could be interpreted and looking out for words that are misspelled or incorrect grammar.
In addition to refining these specific skills, you’ll also want to become familiar with the most common solving methods that these tests use.
Similarly, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the common formulas that are used in aptitude tests as well, to prepare you as best as possible for the assessment.
One of the most important aspects to give you the best possible chance for success is to make sure you have the right environment when you practice and when you take the actual test.
You want to find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed for the duration of the test.
Also, if the actual test will be taken online, then you’ll want to practice with an online practice test as well to simulate the actual environment.
When you are taking the practice tests and the actual test itself, work quickly but accurately and ensure you take a few seconds to double check you’ve understood the question and that you’ve actually selected the answer you had in mind.
Would you like to take one of our practice aptitude tests right now? To try a range of tests for free, click here.
If those were useful, you may also like to try WikiJob’s psychometric tests app, available for both Apple and Android, which includes 10 numerical tests and 8 verbal tests.
The tests include a timer and worked solutions at the end.
Need more practice? Try practice tests from JobTestPrep.