Psychometric tests form only a part of the recruitment process and are used mainly to affirm that your character and aptitude are right for the vacant position.
Generally, if you've made it through to the interview without being dishonest, then the tests should be a formality. Like all preparation it is worth being familiar with the types of test that you might face.
- Don't panic - it's not rocket science and the difficulty of questions in ability tests have a wide range to accommodate everyone. They may seem complex but often the correct answer is the most obvious and simple one. By panicking you will only inhibit your intellectual functioning.
- Try to be systematic with your answering and stick to a routine for analysing the questions. If you are limited by time then avoid wasting time on difficult or confusing questions, preferring to return to them if you have time left over at the end. Avoid 'skimming' to seek out obvious easy answers. This wastes time.
- Test administrators follow a standard set of instructions. Don't be worried if they seem a little rigid or unfriendly - this is what they are supposed to be doing and it helps to ensure that everyone takes the test under exactly the same conditions.
- You should be taken through a practice or instructions stage before the actual test. If not then don't be afraid to ask. Remember to listen carefully to test instructions. If you need a little more time for practice, then ask for it.
- If you wear glasses or a hearing aid then take them along. If you have any disabilities tell the test administrator about them beforehand.
- Get a good night's sleep beforehand and remember to eat breakfast, as it will improve your performance. Do not do something silly like gulping down several cups of coffee, as it will leave you jittery and affect your concentration.
Abstract problem solving
These tests are designed to measure your ability to identify patterns and extract meaning from a mass of seemingly random or very complex information.
Be aware that:
- The simple or obvious answer is often the correct one.
- There is usually only one correct answer.
- There is often a common theme to every shape or pattern in the question.
- There is usually one characteristic which every option shares e.g. size, colour, position, shape.
- The answer you find first may be correct to a degree but not the most obvious 'correct' answer. Remember to read all possible answers before completing the question.
These tests mostly involve your calculating ability. In the case of numerical problem solving, the actual mathematics involved may be very simple, but you are being assessed on your knowledge of how to apply them.
Some questions involve sequences and patterns. Look for simple sequences first. Do the numbers increase or decrease? Is there a common denominator? Is there a relationship between positive and negative figures? Then begin looking for combinations e.g. add one, subtract two, add three, and so on.
In the case of items requiring multiplication or division you may be presented with very complex numbers. These may be an attempt to see how well you can look for the 'bigger picture'.
Remember to consider the role of whole numbers, odd numbers, integers and prime numbers. For instance they may present you with several huge numbers and you need to identify which are divisible by an even number (say 200) to produce a whole number. This therefore eliminates anything ending in an odd number.
Sometimes, seemingly impossible problems can be solved easily by applying some lateral thinking. Remember your basic mathematical principles, for example. Anything divided or multiplied by zero is zero. Two even numbers multiplied by each other will produce another even number. Any number ending in zero that is multiplied by any other number, will always produce another number ending in zero.
A negative and positive number multiplied by each other will produce a negative number. Two negative numbers multiplied always produce a positive number, and so on.
These tests assess your understanding and skill with language comprehension, spelling and grammar. In these tests it's very important to read each question carefully.
We often skip from word to word and pick the general meaning of a sentence. When we are asked to look at specific aspects in a sentence or set of words, then we have to concentrate on individual words or even letters. This is something we may not be used to doing.
- Pay attention to detail, as this is one of the principal objectives of these tests.
- Concentrate on a single word or even letter at a time. Reread a passage or sentence if it isn't immediately clear, or possibly ambiguous. Avoid the habit of taking language for granted, skipping over words or assuming the meaning. These tests take advantage of this and try to catch you out.
- Read each word carefully. Sometimes similar sounding or similar looking words are put in to confuse you and add irrelevant 'noise'.
- We have a habit of recognising whole words as patterns rather than individual letters. You may be caught out with the difference between wander and wonder, which could change the entire meaning of the sentence.
- If you are unsure of the meaning of a word, try a process of elimination of the wrong answers to find a possible correct answer.
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