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How to pass numerical and verbal reasoning tests

Like thousands of other job applicants, you will probably have to face a numerical or verbal reasoning test before an employer awards you a job. Why do employers use these psychometric aptitude tests and how can you perform well?

Verbal aptitude or reasoning and numerical tests are designed to measure applicants' mental capabilities and behavioural style. Employers' are trying to understand if you are the right person for the role and they will employ the one who best match. There are various types of verbal reasoning and numerical tests.

Related: Facing a personality assessment? Don’t panic!


First, let’s quickly consider why and verbal tests are used. If an employer is faced with hundreds of job applicants for one post, he tries to think of ways to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’. There will be lots of weak applicants in there, and a few very good ones. Psychometric testing is an effective, objective, and fast way of getting rid of the applicants that don’t cut a certain level of aptitude.

So, how to shine in your psychometric test? Like any test, practice is key. You can practice online numerical reasoning tests and see where you went wrong. Practice will also teach you how to approach the questions and let you discover what tactics work best for you. You will probably make silly mistakes the first few times you try an aptitude test, but over time you will learn not to make the same mistakes. Only then are ready to take your real psychometric test.

Numerical Reasoning Test Tips

1) Stay focused on the time.

If you don’t think you are able to complete a question within the tight time scales, leave it and move on because you may find you see the solution to another question more quickly.

2) Discount any obviously wrong answers.

Most aptitude tests are multiple choice, and if you can see from the question that some are obviously wrong (for example negative when you’re looking for a positive), you have immediately improved your chance of scoring correctly.

3) Check the units and scales given on graphs.

Numerical reasoning tests are renowned for interchanging units and deliberately leading you to get the units wrong if you do not carefully study the graphs. A classic example is to present scales “in thousands” and then for you to forget this when answering.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tips

A couple of tips for your verbal reasoning test:

1) Don’t assume anything.

You are supposed to read the passages and respond true, false or cannot say based on only the information contained within the passage. If it doesn’t say it in the passage, you don’t know about it. A few practice tests will help you work this out.

2) Read the passage first

Read the passage once quickly to get an overview of the information and where in the passage things get said. Only then start to answer the questions and go back to the relevant section in the passage.

Good luck with your application.

photo by: andrew kelly

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