Many employers and recruitment agencies use a form of psychometric testing as part of their selection process. For some people this testing can be quite daunting, particularly if it's your first time or it's been some time since you were tested. By using practise psychometric tests to prepare not only will know what to expect but you can identify areas you need to brush up on.
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In this Section you will find:
1: An Introduction to Pscyhometric Testing How psychometric testing works - what it is, why and how it's used, the different types of tests and what the results mean.
2: Links to Free Online Practise Psychometric Tests A comprehensive list to some of the better free online practise psychometric tests. Scroll down to the section at the bottom of the page if this is what you're looking for.
3: Recommended Books with Practise Aptitude Tests Books you can buy with practise aptitude tests with answers and sections on strategies that explain how to solve the problems. Recommended especially if you're going to be sitting pen and paper aptitude tests.
"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." Dr. Denis Waitley
1. What is a Psychometric Test and How do they Work?
Psychometrics simply means measurement of the mind. It's derived from the Greek ‘psyche’ (mind) and ‘metron’ (measure). Essentially, it is a measure of how your brain works and provides a quantifiable measurement of your mental ability.
The psychological tests that measure our minds generally fall into two broad categories:
There are tests designed to assess personal qualities, such as personality, beliefs, values, and interests, as well as motivation or ‘drive’. These are known as measures of typical performance. They are usually administered without a time limit and the questions have no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers. The answers reflect how the person taking the test would usually or typically feel, what they believe, or what they think about things.
The second category includes tests that are designed to measure performance. These are called tests of ability, aptitude or attainment and are known as measures of maximum performance. They are usually administered with a fixed time limit, and the questions have right and wrong answers.
Who uses Psychometric Tests and Why?
Psychometric Tests (also known as Aptitude Tests) are frequently used during recruitment and academic selection. They are becoming increasingly common with employers, up to 75% of medium to large sized organisations are now using tests or questionnaires during the recruitment process. These tests focus on specific abilities required for a certain job or role and try to predict a candidate’s future performance in a particular field, rather than measure their overall general intelligence.
Psychometrics tests, such as personality questionnaires and 360-degree (multi-rater) feedback systems, are also playing a growing part in graduate, management and leadership development, as well as the internal performance appraisal process.
A Quick Introduction to Psychometric Testing This promotional video (5 mins) produced by Assessment Day (a UK company that specialises in psychometric testing services for organisations) is presented by a Business Psychologist and Chartered Psychologist. They provide a clear and simple introduction to the what and the why of the use of psychometric testing in an employment context.
There are Different Types of PsychometricTests
Psychometric tests can come in many forms, depending on the skills required in the job. For example, more specialised aptitude tests are often required for senior management, military, police, medical, IT, engineering and science careers. However, the most common forms are numerical and verbal or abstract reasoning tests. These are typically presented in a multiple-choice format, with definite right and wrong answers, and they are usually timed.
There are Different Test Time Limits
There are generally three time limit categories however the important thing to remember is that even when there is a time limit, it will be the same for everybody.
Strict Time Limits Some tests have very strict time limits, to ensure that people cannot complete all the questions in the test in the time available. These tests are designed to see how fast you can work. Usually the questions are not very difficult, but you have to work fast to do well.
Relaxed Time Limits Other types of maximum performance tests have more relaxed time limits, or may have no time limit at all. For these tests the questions may be quite difficult, or sometimes start off easy and get progressively more difficult as you work through the test. In these tests the emphasis is on how many questions you can get right, rather than on how quickly you work.
Speed and Accuracy In most cases, tests fall somewhere in between these two extremes. There will be a time limit, but this will be set to allow most people sufficient time to get to the end of the test. To be successful, you need to work through the test as quickly and as accurately as possible.
CHECK! Listen to the test administrator and/or read the test instructions carefully before you start so you know exactly how the test will be timed and scored - then you can pace yourself to achieve the best result.
Don't worry if you can't answer all the questions It is also important to remember that psychological tests of ability often seem to be a lot ‘harder’ than the tests of knowledge people are used to from school. Typically, if you had done your homework, you would expect to get 80 or 90 per cent of the questions right in a school knowledge test. Psychological tests are designed so that on average, people in the group they are intended for would get about 50 per cent right. So don't worry if you find you can't answer some questions, or think you have got a lot of them wrong.
There are Different Test Modes
Online | Computer | Pen and Paper Tests Although it is increasingingly common for psychometric tests to be administered online, they can be administered through pen and paper or a computer at a recruitment center or an employer's premises. These are called test modes and where possible you should practise in the mode that will be used by the employer or recruiter. (Although any practise is better than none)
If you are required to complete an unsupervised online test early on in the recruitment process, and you make it through the pre selection stage, be prepared to repeat a supervised test. This step filters out any candidates who may have cheated on the first test. (Surely not!)
What do the Results Mean?
While there is a total score for the number of correct answers the results of ability tests are expressed in terms of percentiles, eg: you have scored at the 65%ile. What this means is that compared to a representative sample who have completed the test in the past, you have scored in the top 35%, or conversely, you have done better than 65% of the population.
Preparation and Practise CAN make a Difference to your Scores
Many components in psychometric tests are based on acquired knowledge and skills therefore, those who received a better education are more likely to do well in the test. Also recent graduates are likely to perform better than people who completed their education a few years ago. However, all of them are likely to find a psychometric test much more difficult than those who recently experienced psychometric testing, as neither university nor schools prepare students for psychometric tests.
Effective Preparation is the Key The good news is that research has identified that effective preparation can improve results in tests such as IQ, innovation and psychometric tests.
A study from the 60's that investigated the impact of intensive training (six hours of training) revealed that such training can improve people’ s IQ (intelligence) by nine points on average. Although this is not a huge improvement (and it's usually temporary) it can be all that you need to get in front of other applicants for the same job.
The most detailed research on the effects of test preparation on adults was published in North America in 1979 by the US Federal Trade Commission. The research focused on the SAT exam, which is an intelligence test completed by adults in the US who would like to study in a college. The SAT exam, similar to the psychometric test, has verbal and numerical reasoning components. The research proved that effective preparation improves people’s scores in the verbal and numerical reasoning tests.
Proper Preparation Increases Points Other research, done by the US Education Testing Services, found that with the proper preparation people improve their scores on the verbal and numerical reasoning tests by 20 to 35 points on average. The conclusion is clear – you can prepare for psychometric testing, but you must take the proper training to ensure you maximise the benefits.
How to Prepare for Psychometric Aptitude Tests
Know the Type of Test Some recruitment consultancies provide practise materials that are similar in form and content to the actual tests they use however, the actual questions in the test will be different. You should be notified well in advance of the test session whether practise materials are available. If they are not, then you should be told what types of tests you will be administered. If this doesn't happen then make sure you ask. You have a right to know.
Practise in the Same Test Mode The problem with pyschometrics and assessment testing is that it can get very complicated very quickly so at the risk of oversimplifying the research the most straightforward advice is this - it is better to practise in the same test mode. If the test is paper based then practise with pen and paper tests. If the test will be conducted in an online environment then practise using online practise tests. If it the test is computer based then practise on a computer.
Free online practise aptitude tests to measure your "maximum performance" except most of them aren't timed.
Approach these online practise tests in the same way as you would the actual test so that you get a proper feel for what the test will be like. Don't just check to see that you have the correct answer to the practice questions, but ask yourself ‘Why is this the correct answer and how did I work that out?’
If you've been dependent on a calculator for the past few years, now might be a good time to brush up on your mental arithmetic with an appropriate test.
SHL Example Tests » SHL is a reputable international firm of psychometric test designers. Many HR departments and recruitment companies use their instruments. Their website provides you with the opportunity to practise their "real" online questionnaires. These examples tests (with answers) give you an idea of the type of questions you may be asked to complete when applying for a job
Cubiks Psychometric Practise Tests Cubiks is an international assessment and development consultancy. They provide business psychology services throughout Europe and the USA. You can complete their practise tests online which are organised into two categories (Graduate/Manager level and Business Support Level). They also have a diagrammatic test (that they're developing) which you download.
Morrisby (Basic) Select the ‘Test-taker’s guide’ tab then ‘sample questions’ to access the practice questions. Question types include: abstract reasoning (diagrammatic), verbal ability (pick the odd word out), numerical ability (fill in gaps in a sequence), perceptual (pick the odd image out), shapes (recognising a flipped or rotated shape) and mechanical.
Psychometric Success From this website you can download a number of practice tests with answers. Tests include: data interpretation (tables), reasoning (spotting number patterns), computation (basic arithmetic) and estimation (coming up with sensible, but not exact answers).
Practice Aptitude Tests Practice Aptitude Tests provide industry standard employer tests designed for graduates and professionals seeking careers in: banking, accountancy, finance, law, engineering, business, marketing and similar. Free online practise verbal, numeric and diagrammtic reasoning tests
Numerical Tests - EFinancialCareers Practice makes perfect - numerical practise tests designed by specialists, with answer booklets which help you to revise for the real thing.
Examples of Occupational Aptitude Tests
The British Royal Air Force Aptitude Test Airman and airwoman selection tests. The RAF Aptitude test is a good example of a typical aptitude test that includes all the components - verbal, numeric and inductive reasoning - although it's not timed. You receive a total score for each section on completion.
IPAS the Initial Pilot Aptitude Screening The IPAS program is designed to offer men and woman interested in a career as a professional pilot a preliminary indication of their ability in five key pilot aptitude areas before they start their pilot training. (Takes about 50 mins) There are five IPAS tests.
1 "BallGame"; a hand / eye co-ordination test 2 "Total Recall"; a test of short term memory 3 "Math class"; a quick math test 4 "Wings And Things"; an orientation test 5 "Bingo"; a dual task management test
Graduate College Admission Practise Tests
Kaplan Practise Tests Kaplan specialise in the test prep industry and provide more than 30 standardized tests for college and graduate school admissions, English language proficiency, and professional licensing. Download free pen and paper tests.
3. Psychometric Books with Practise Aptitude Tests
Practising in the same psychometric test mode is the ideal but it may not always be possible or practical. The next best thing is to buy a book that includes practise psychometric tests.
These books have helped thousands of people by developing a better understanding of the different type of tests, their methodology and how to tackle them so don't dismiss them just because they're pen and paper tests. There are literally hundreds of books though which can make it difficult to know which one to buy - and recommend. Your familiarity with psychometric testing, your level of ability and circumstances are all factors that need to be considered. This collection includes reputable authors and books that will be useful for most people who are required to complete psychometric tests as part of a recruitment and selection process.
You're Hired! Psychometric Tests: Proven tactics to help you pass by Ceri Roderick and James Meachin, Trotman, 2010 Written by business psychologists who specialise in recruitment. Includes practice questions, sample tests, tips and advice. Very practical and useful as a starter although depending on your level you may need to purchase supplementary books with more practise tests.
IQ and Psychometric Test Workbook: Essential Preparation for Verbal Numerical and Spatial Aptitude Tests and Personality Tests by Philip Carter 2011 Kogan Page Workbook edition
Written by IQ expert Philip Carter it contains hundreds of practice questions complete with answers and explanations. Topics: Verbal aptitude, Numerical aptitude, Spatial aptitude, IQ tests, Personality questionnaires, and advice on adopting the right approach to psychometric testing.
Ultimate Aptitude Tests: Assess and Develop Your Potential with Numerical, Verbal and Abstract Tests by Jim Barrett 2012 Kogan Page 2 edition
The second edition is the largest and most comprehensive book of its kind. Over 1000 practice questions with detailed answers and explanations. Includes psychological abstract visual tests, verbal and numerical reasoning aptitudes, practical skills and understanding as well as different types of mechanical and spatial tests.
These books are useful if you want to target a specific skill test.
Practise & Pass Professional: Verbal Reasoning Tests by Alan Redman 2010 Trotman
Written by business psychologists who specialises in recruitment. Includes hundreds of real-life tests supported with tips and advice.
How to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests: A Step-by-Step Guide to Learning Key Numeracy Skills (Testing Series) by Heidi Smith 2011 Kogan Page
Practical resource for those who need to brush up on their maths skills for numerical reasoning and data interpretation tests. Includes an overview of the basics followed by a step-by-step guide to numerical tests including fractions and decimals, rates, percentages and ratios and proportions with a chapter on word problems to help with your analytical skills.
How to Pass Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests by Mike Bryon 2008 Kogan Page
Contains over 300 practice questions involving pictorial or diagrammatic questions with little or no resort to words or numbers. Each chapter includes warm up questions with a mini test at the end. The questions get progressively harder. Covers abstract reasoning, input type diagrammatic reasoning and conceptual and spatial reasoning tests.
More Useful Career Development Resources
Excellerate Intelligence | Free Online IQ Tests The tests that are used to select people for jobs are not IQ tests but are designed to see how you apply your intelligence. IQ is an index of your general intelligence. Learn more about IQ and try some free online IQ tests in this section
Excellerate Success Tips for Candidates Taking Employment Tests | IQ Test Tips Avoid some of the most common mistakes people make and get up to speed with success test taking tips for personality and psychometric testing
Free Online Personality Tests | Free Personality Tests Pyschometric Aptitude tests measure your maximum performance while personality tests are designed to measure your typical performance by identifying things like your preferences, beliefs, motivation, This section includes online personality and career orientatation tests to identify your personality type and best job fit.
Excellerate Personal Impact Career Smart Strategies | Personal Impact Practical professional development and career smart strategies to help you achieve a competitive edge.
Engage with Passion. Execute with Purpose. Excel in Performance Are you an ambitious professional? Do you want to take your career to the next level?
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