Written by:
Piotr Binduga
UCL Graduate

1. What are aptitude tests?

Aptitude tests are similar to ability tests. The former assess the potential to acquire knowledge generally, whereas the latter place these in a specific work context. An aptitude test enables an employer to assess and appraise the potential, talent and ability levels of prospective employees. Employers can appraise one’s ability using an aptitude test to make a decision on the best candidates to decide on whether to hire someone or not.

2. Why are aptitude tests difficult?

For most candidates, the difficulty of aptitude tests lies in completing the tests under timed conditions. In numerical or logical reasoning tests, candidates tend to have about a minute or so to read the question, analyse the graphs and patterns, and choose the correct response. For those who have never practiced, stress kicks in as this is a new situation for them. Many candidates complain they did not have enough time to finish the tests, and the ticking clock made them too nervous to focus on solving the problems at hand.

Aptitude tests are used by big employers to sift through the candidates and reduce the number of candidates that are offered interviews.

If you do not want to jeopardise your chances of landing a job, you should start practicing aptitude tests now! Practice makes perfect.

3. How can I improve in aptitude tests by practicing?

The best way to prepare for aptitude tests and improve your scores is by practicing. The first thing you need to do is understand what type of aptitude tests you will be required to take.

Based on your chosen position and company, you can check to see which aptitude test/s you are likely to take by checking their recruitment website, through email communication, or by seeing what other candidates say about the process on online forums and employee websites. Visit our website to take a free aptitude test and see how you score.

Click here to practice. You can practice a free aptitude test under real timed conditions and also receive a personalised performance report with a list of recommendations to work on any improvement areas. Each aptitude test also comes with worked solutions, so you can study the most common types of questions in your own time to avoid surprises when you take the real test.

What else can help me improve in aptitude tests? Continue reading for our list of top tips.

4. Top tips to improve in aptitude tests

In this section we will present some of the general rules and best practice for solving aptitude tests, as well as presenting test-specific tips to improve your scores.

General Advice

Aptitude Test Tip 1: Don’t ask anyone to help you

Choosing to cheat with aptitude tests is the worst course of action. Not only is it immoral, but you may also be caught cheating and ruin your chances. Your employer may ask you to sit the same aptitude tests as part of your final interviews or assessment centre days to verify if it had been you solving them in the first place.

Aptitude Test Tip 2: Always ask for feedback to improve

There is nothing more valuable than good feedback, especially if you had not been lucky in receiving a job offer or progressing to later stages of the recruitment process. By reading the report, you will see what your weak and strong points were, so that you can work on your personal preparation plan. If you do not receive a report, contact the recruiter and ask for personalised feedback, perhaps over a call or over email.

It may be the case that it was one of the aptitude tests where you did badly that ruined your chances. Perhaps, you had done excellent in the aptitude tests but were unsuccessful before the interview stage, because your answers to motivational or competency questions in the online application form were not convincing. It is important to know what your improvement areas are so you can work on these going forwards.

Aptitude Test Tip 3: Focus on your improvement areas

This point reiterates the message of the advice written above. Understand what your improvement areas are and then practice, practice and practice similar assessments and challenges until you see your score improve. Practice can help you get familiar with working under timed conditions and reduce chances of error due to stress and time pressure. If you struggle with any specific aptitude test, the section below will be a perfect place for you to start.

Aptitude Test Tip 4: Understand the differences between tests

Before you can even start preparing or practicing the aptitude tests, you need to understand what skills they measure and understand the general format of the tests and questions. Are multiple choice options or a text box option provided for the answer? Are there any prerequisites to some of these tests?

You are best of starting your preparations with a list of tests you are confirmed, or you expect, to take and then understand what these tests are before you start practicing.

To read more about different types of aptitude tests click here.

Aptitude Test Tip 5: Check what you are allowed to use in the test

In some tests, such as numerical reasoning tests, you will be allowed, or rather expected, to make use of a calculator to arrive at your answers. Make sure you are familiar and confident in your accuracy and speed of operating it. Check that it works beforehand!

As a general rule for all tests, make sure you have a piece of paper and something to write with nearby.

Aptitude Test Tip 6: Move on to the next question if you struggle

As you go through all questions, bear in mind the average time allocation you have to answer each question. If you only have a minute and a half to crack a numerical reasoning question, and you have been trying to understand the question for the past two minutes, it is probably a sign you need to move on.

These tactics may change if there is negative marking or no time limit. Generally, these tests are not negatively marked, so you are better off guessing the answer and moving to the next question in instances where the chance of correctly solving a problematic question in the next 30 seconds is low. Negative marking will be indicated in the invite email or test instructions, so make sure you read these carefully before starting the assessment.

Aptitude Test Tip 7: Read all questions and instructions carefully

Although this one seems obvious, you would be surprised how many candidates start answering the questions before having understood the objective of the question or data that is presented to them. Without reading instructions, some candidates are not aware of the required answer format, such as approximations to the nearest integer or providing an answer as a percentage or absolute value.

Read the instructions twice and carefully read the questions and make sure you understand them before looking at the figures and possible answers.

Test Specific Advice

1. Numerical Reasoning Test Tips and Advice

Click here to read more about what Numerical Reasoning Tests are.

Numerical Reasoning Test Tip 1: Refresh basic Maths.

The level of Maths that you will be expected to know for numerical reasoning tests does not go beyond basic GCSE arithmetic, such as calculations involving percentages, ratios, fractions, estimates, and data manipulation that can be related to time, currency or measurement.

You should work through online examples of GCSE math questions: calculating percentage differences, percentage increases and decreases, calculating ratios, converting measures and currencies, etc.

You should also practice reading data off a variety of data sources: tables, pie charts, line graphs, bar charts, stock charts, etc.

Numerical Reasoning Test Tip 2: Improve speed and accuracy 

Practising can help you manage your time effectively as both speed and accuracy is essential for success. To perform well, it is important that you work both quickly and accurately. Test takers who have practised have a much better chance of demonstrating their fullest potential, than those who have not practiced, as they are familiar with tests and working under time pressure.

Numerical Reasoning Test Tip 3: Get comfortable using a calculator

It will be helpful if you also practice working through numerical problems on your calculator to ensure that you feel confident in using it. Many candidates rush while working on their calculator and even a simple mistake or negligence may give them the wrong answer.

Numerical Reasoning Test Tip 4: GF Performance Reports to enhance your performance

Our reports provide data driven insights based upon your performance and make recommendations on how you can improve your performance in Numerical Tests. You can store your reports online and access them anytime whilst tracking your performance as you improve. By continuing to practice and applying the suggested recommendations, you can enhance your chances of a successful performance on your actual test.

2. Logical Reasoning Test Tips and Advice

Click here to read more about what Logical Reasoning Tests are.

Logical Reasoning Test Tip 1: Eliminate incorrect answers first

In logical reasoning tests, the main problem is identifying the underlying patterns in a series of a few diagrams to establish which of the diagrams in the answers will follow.

Therefore, focus on establishing the patterns between the diagrams presented and start by crossing out the answers that cannot be the correct answer.

It is recommended to make a list on a fresh piece of paper ahead of the test where in each row for each question you write down A, B, C, D, E for the answers, and as you work through the question cross out the answer that cannot be correct until you find the one that must be correct.

Logical Reasoning Test Tip 2: Get creative about the patterns

There is no pre-requisite for logical reasoning tests are there is no closed list of the types of changes and spatial manipulations you are expected to guess.

The list of possible patterns is endless.

But there are some common types of manipulations that you can train yourself to recognise, such as:

  • Counting the number of shapes in each diagram to establish if there is any trend (number of shapes may increase/decrease across diagrams in a pattern).
  • Counting the number of edges of the shapes in diagrams to establish if the sum of all edges of all shapes between diagrams have a sequence, or if the individual shapes change based on the number of edges across the sequence.
  • Paying extra attention when it comes to information such as colours of shapes.
  • Being aware that the positions of shapes around the diagram will typically not be random: the shapes may move between the diagrams and also change into other shapes; some shapes may cover other shapes as they move around the diagrams, either in a clockwise or anti-clockwise manner; or shapes may move along columns/rows/diagonally around the diagrams, even if these lines are not drawn on the diagram. Look out for such movements of shapes across sequences.
  • Being careful when looking at shapes for any minor differences between diagrams, such as whether lines have arrowheads, or whether the shapes are filled or empty. The inclination may also change, or some shapes may disappear every now and then from the diagram completely.

Logical Reasoning Test Tip 3: Adjust your approach by becoming aware of the common types of spatial manipulations in logical reasoning tests.

There is no better way to adjust yourself to analyse such subtle spatial differences between diagrams than by practicing logical reasoning test questions. After having done only a couple of logical reasoning tests you will already be familiar with some of the most common spatial manipulations used. This will put you in good stead to get familiar with some of the types of questions you may be faced with.

3. Verbal Reasoning Test Tips and Advice

Click here to read more about what Verbal Reasoning Tests are.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tip 1: Get as much practice as possible

Get as much practice as possible. Use practice websites that offer timed tests, so that you can be relaxed and confident when taking the assessment and more focused on doing a good job.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tip 2: Read a lot

Ideally relatively complex information such as scientific or journal papers. Focus on understanding the logical flow of the text. Convert sentences into questions. Attempt to answer: True, False, Cannot Say from your prepared questions, as you would in a Verbal test.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tip 3: Get familiar with the way the texts are written

Verbal Reasoning Texts are written in a specific way. The passage of text is written to fit test objectives. It is not a familiar piece of text taken from a newspaper or a book. It has to be very precise, short and leave no room for interpretation. Thus, you need to learn how to find information, then extract and interpret this in order to answer the questions.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tip 4: Only base answers on information contained in the text

In verbal reasoning tests, you are allowed to make logical inferences only based on the information in the text. It is often difficult to evaluate if statements in the question are true or false, if the candidate has pre-existing knowledge. Questions may be asked in a way to trick candidate into giving answers based on what they know, and not on what they read in the passage.

4. Situational Judgement Tests Tips and Advice

Click here to read more about what Situational Judgement Test is.

Situational Judgement Tests Tip 1: Understand the expectations for the role you applied for

There are no right or wrong answers in Situational Judgement tests, but there are answers that are more or less likely to get you your dream job. Situational Judgement Test examines your fit to the role you applied for, as well as overall company culture.

To do well in this test you need to understand the requirements for a role you applied for, the type of everyday work situations that may be challenging, areas of conflict, as well as overall goals and ambitions of the company. Do some research to understand the culture of the company.

You need to demonstrate yourself as a candidate who will fit in well and hold similar priorities and preferences that are echoed across the organisation.

Once you understand what these encouraged behaviours and solutions to problems are, try to identify these in the Situational Judgement Test questions and point to the answers that will present you as the best fit.

Note: Selecting a Worst course of action as the Best course of action (and vice versa) may lead to negative marks. Be careful in choosing your response/s to a particular scenario.

Situational Judgement Tests Tip 2: Think back to your previous experiences

Situational Judgement Tests will present you with work life scenarios in which you will need to identify the course of action that is most desirable. In many of these situations it will be helpful for you to think of your own past experiences, or perhaps the professional behaviours of someone you admire. If the SJT scenario presents a situation similar to your previous experiences (or the experiences of your role model), think of the solutions that brought you/them the most value and success to the team and the ones that made work easier, more transparent and engaging.

Similarly, have a think about what someone else who you admire for their professionalism would have done.

Concluding Remarks

Aptitude tests continue to be used by many organisations across the globe. Practicing these can help ensure they are even more effective at doing their job – practicing will reduce the chance of error, such as issues of managing time and unfamiliarity with the assessment type itself.

Keep practicing and good luck!