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What is a numerical reasoning test? What do numerical reasoning tests measure? How to pass numerical reasoning tests? If these are questions on your mind, then this is the guide for you.

In this text, we will go into depth on Numerical Reasoning tests, what they measure and the best preparation techniques to help you practice for your upcoming assessment tests.

Our website provides scientifically validated numerical reasoning practice tests that can be used to practice and prepare for the assessment found in many of the recruitment and assessment processes around the globe including the UK and US.

Not sure if you should practice to prepare for your Numerical Reasoning tests? According to research, 60-80% of candidates are rejected based on their aptitude tests results. It is proven that practice increases your chances of getting hired.

A recent study found that candidates who do not practise assessments, tend to fail at the first hurdle of psychometric assessments (54%-84%). This study looked at the Top 100 global employers.

Bradley et al. (2019)

Here’s a simple breakdown of what’s to come in this complete guide.


  1. What is a Numerical Reasoning Test?
  2. Why do Employers Use Numerical Reasoning Tests?
  3. What do Numerical Reasoning Tests Measure?
  4. 5 Key Tips to Prepare for Your Numerical Reasoning Test
  5. Free Numerical Reasoning Test Question and Answer
  6. How to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests
  7. Numerical Reasoning Test Practice with Worked Solutions
  8. Numerical Ability Test FAQs

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

What is a Numerical Reasoning Test?

Numerical Reasoning Tests are used by employers to assess your reasoning ability when it comes to applying for a job. Employers are keen to identify how capable you are at reasoning with numerical data presented in charts, graphs and tables to determine the correct answer to a question under time pressure.

Did you know? Numerical reasoning questions require no more than an understanding of basic mathematics at GCSE or equivalent level including: ratios, percentages and basic arithmetic.

Discover more about numerical reasoning tests with this quick video below:

What is a Numerical Reasoning Test? #shorts

Our tests are designed by previous SHL and Kenexa consultants and test developers. GF tests therefore give you a realistic experience of the real thing. Take a FREE numerical test and get an expert personalised report with answers and fully worked solutions to help with your learning.

Numerical Reasoning Tests – Key Facts

  • The purpose of numerical reasoning tests is to sift out candidates usually with scores below the 31st percentile during the early stages of the recruitment process
  • Numerical ability tests also provide additional information about the potential of a candidate for a role before moving onto the next stages such as an interview or an assessment centre
  • Most employers use numerical reasoning tests (NRTs) alongside other tests such as verbal or logical reasoning
  • As numerical tests require some knowledge on basic arithmetic, percentages and ratios. calculators are typically allowed
  • There is typically no negative marking in numerical reasoning tests unless stated in instructions. Taking a guess on the questions you’re unsure of could work in your favour.

Did you know? Most numerical reasoning tests will be multiple choice-based questions. However, depending on the provider they may vary in time limit, the number of questions and the type of information you need to interpret.

Don’t miss this short video below where we cover more about the types of numerical reasoning tests used and their providers:

Numerical Reasoning Test Types and Publishers #shorts

Why do Employers Use Numerical Reasoning Tests?

Many professional jobs require making decisions in the workplace that are driven by numbers and data. This can include departments and areas such as Finance, Marketing, Sales, HR and more.

For example, for many roles you may be required to:

  • Measure how successful a particular product/service is
  • Calculate how much revenue is being generated
  • Determine whether a particular location is performing better than others 

Therefore, you will need to reason with numerical data regularly in your job.

Top 3 Reasons Why Employers Use Numerical Reasoning Tests

  1. To measure ability in numerical reasoning
    • This involves interpreting numerical data presented in graphs and tables. Can the candidates use and interpret the information provided to arrive at the correct answer quickly and accurately?
  2. They are reliable and predictively valid
    • Numerical reasoning tests can help provide the employer with a strong indication of a candidate’s numerical reasoning ability and indicate whether they will be able to deal with numerical information effectively on the job.
  3. To sift out candidates early
    • Numerical tests are used in conjunction with other tests to reduce the number of applicants by half safely whilst remaining legally defensible.

Did you know? Using a psychometrically robust numerical reasoning test allows recruiters to reduce the candidate pool by 50% on average when partnered with another psychometric test.

What numerical test providers are used by employers?

Here are some of the current top providers of numerical reasoning tests used by global employers:

Are you a recruiter looking to hire? Assess Candidates provides numerical ability tests for top recruiters designed and tested in-house by chartered scientists, psychologists and psychometricians that previously developed assessment solutions for SHL and IBM Kenexa. 

Which Employers Use Numerical Reasoning Tests?

Here are just some of the many top employers that use numerical reasoning assessments in their hiring processes for jobs all around the world:


Did you know? According to research, 75% of the Times top 100 companies and a further 70% of UK companies with over 50 employees use psychometric testing including numerical reasoning as part of their recruitment process

Pearce et al. (2021)

But which key jobs require numerical reasoning skills? Check out the quick video below to discover 5 of the top jobs that most commonly use numerical tests in the application process:

Top 5 Jobs that Require Numerical Reasoning Tests #shorts

Head to our employer guides to discover more top tips about even more top employer recruitment processes, where we uncover all you will need to know at each step of the assessment process including practice tools and examples to help you pass, first time.

What do Numerical Reasoning Tests Measure?

Numerical reasoning tests (NRTs) are designed to measure your ability to make correct decisions from numerical or statistical data presented in tables, graphs and charts. You are required to use the information presented in such formats and ‘reason’ with it to select one of the multiple choice options provided.

What do Numerical Reasoning Test Questions involve?

This means each question is looking for you to correctly analyse and pull apart the data given in each scenario, and then apply basic mathematics. Usually only one option is the correct answer, unless stated otherwise.

How to Answer Numerical Reasoning Test Questions?

A few of the numerical tests provided by the test publishers above measure these skills in slightly different ways, which alters the way candidates answer numerical test questions. Here are some alternative types of numerical questions that recruiters use:

  • Ranking Order: Cappfinity tests require you to interact with the options to rank into the correct order. These will depend on the question asked so read the instructions carefully.
  • Input the Answer: You may instead be required to make calculations based on the information provided and input the answer directly into the available field.
  • Analyse the Statements: Tests from providers such as Cut-e require you to determine whether the statements are true, false or whether you cannot say based on your calculations and the data provided.

Good to know: Although employers may use many descriptors for looking at your numerical test score (e.g. T score, sten, stanine), the majority tend to look at percentiles. Percentiles tell you how well you have done in comparison to others in similar positions. 

For example, a graduate’s results will be compared against how other graduates performed.

Are Numerical Reasoning Tests Difficult?

Although a basic understanding of maths is required as a prerequisite for Graduate and Professional tests, it is actually the reasoning and application of the data given under time pressure that is being assessed. Therefore, numerical tests are designed to challenge the candidate on their speed and accuracy on how they handle data.

This is contrary to the popular belief that numerical aptitude tests focus on measuring your math skills which is what you can expect if they were asked to complete a ‘Calculation’ assessment.

Did you know? Numerical comprehension tests are an example of a numerical calculation assessment. These tests aim to measure your mathematical skills and ability to analyse and comprehend data accurately and effectively.

Discover the 3 key mistakes that candidates make that you should avoid in your numerical reasoning test with this quick video:

3 Things to Avoid in Numerical Reasoning Tests #shorts

5 Key Tips to Prepare for Your Numerical Reasoning Test

Get a head start in your numerical reasoning test preparation with these 5 easy-to-follow tips that you can use before your assessment:

  1. Refresh basic maths, such as:
    • Basic arithmetic
    • Percentages
    • Ratios
    • Fractions
    • Estimates
    • Data manipulation especially related to time, currency and measurement

Take the time to practice each of these key areas regularly before taking the test to help boost your confidence and performance during the test.

  1. Practice numerical reasoning tests
    • Numerical reasoning tests measure how you ‘reason’ with the data provided. Familiarising yourself with how you will be required to apply basic mathematics is a key factor to success.

Did you know? Whilst research shows that practising may not significantly improve one’s aptitude or ability, it is however proven that unfamiliarity with psychometric tests can hinder you from performing at your best (Bradley et al., 2019).

Sign up with GF and take a FREE practice numerical test developed by former SHL experts who developed the tests for 8,000+ companies.

  1. Improve speed and accuracy
    • Practicing 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 quickly and accurately. Test takers who have practised have a much better chance of demonstrating their fullest potential, than those who have not practised.

Did you know? Online numerical tests which do not have set time limits often still measure the time taken for the candidate to complete the questions and the assessment. Time to complete may be used to assess you by the recruiter.

  1. Use 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 ability tests. Sign up with GF today to store and track your performance online and access reports anytime.
    • By continuing to practice and applying the suggested recommendations, you can enhance your chances of performing successfully during your actual test.
  1. Get organised
    • Find a quiet space where you won’t have any interruptions, noises or music in the background. Focus is crucial as you will have a limited amount of time to complete the test. Make the most out of the available time.
    • Check that you have the right materials on hand. Numerical tests often allow using a calculator, a pen and some notes. Be sure to check these work before you begin your test.
    • Check that you have a strong internet connection on the recommended device. Many tests can log you out and restrict you from accessing the assessment again.
    • Remember to work through the questions quickly and accurately. Read each question carefully and work through them with a level of speed to manage your time.

Take a break from reading with this quick video on 5 more numerical reasoning test tips you can use to ace your test:

Do these 5 things before your Numerical Reasoning Test to Smash it! #shorts

Free Numerical Reasoning Test Question and Answer

To get started with your numerical reasoning preparation using our prep tips above, try our free numerical reasoning example question below and check out if you got the answer right with the worked solution and answer below!

For a challenge, try to answer this question in under 45 seconds!

Free Numerical Reasoning Example Question
Free numerical reasoning example question
Step-By-Step Solution
  • Step 1: First, look at the provided graph to locate the number of mortgage approvals for the USA and Italy in 2005. Add these 2005 rates for the USA and Italy together.
    • 170,000 + 95,000 = 265,000
  • Step 2: Then similarly we can add the 2006 rates for the USA and Italy together.
    • 110,000 + 95,000 = 205,000
  • Step 3: Then, add the 2007 rates for the USA and Italy.
    • 75,000 + 95,000 = 170,000
  • Step 4: Finally, we can now add the totals found from steps 1, 2 and 3 together to find the combined number of mortgage approvals.
    • 265,000 + 205,000 + 170,000 = 640,000
Correct Answer: C

Discover how to find and eliminate the wrong answers fast in your numerical reasoning test with this short video:

Identify and eliminate wrong answers fast in Online Assessment Tests | Secret Insights #shorts

Now that we’ve prepared, let’s look at how to pass a numerical reasoning test!

How to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests

It is not just the preparation beforehand that matters to ace your numerical reasoning test! How you handle the questions during the test can affect your performance too. 

Our team have discovered the following 3 important numerical reasoning test tips that you can use during your test to improve your chances.

3 Top Tips to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests

  1. Make sense of the data presented
    • What is being shown in the charts and tables? Check the axes labels, titles, the increments and the column/row names of tables and graphs to make sense of the information provided.
  1. Read the question at least twice
    • It is common for candidates to misunderstand the question, and so this is a good way to ensure you read the whole question carefully.
  1. Use a process of elimination where possible
    • You may find that some of the answer options appear too far-fetched given the data provided. This can help you to focus your answer between fewer options.

Alternatively, read along and check out these 3 key numerical reasoning tips in this short video below:

Do these 3 things during a Numerical Reasoning Test to Succeed #shorts

Numerical Reasoning Test Practice with Worked Solutions

Further your numerical tests preparation using our video below with 5 of the most commonly used questions we’ve developed with worked solutions. These question types account for many numerical test questions you will likely get in recruitment assessment tests.

For your numerical reasoning test practice, remember:

  • Numerical Reasoning Tests are not designed to be easy: You will have limited time to answer challenging questions on a range of different topics.
  • You will have competition for your tests: Competition is fierce for many roles and the candidates with the best numerical reasoning ability will be selected.
  • It will take time to master your personal approach: You need to balance your speed and accuracy. Practicing tests can help you find that balance.

Pro tip: You don’t want to answer too quickly and increase the risk of getting something wrong, but you don’t want to move too slowly either.

Check out the video, study the step-by-step worked solutions provided in the video and practise numerical tests to boost your numerical test practice ahead of the real test:

Numerical Reasoning Test Practice Questions & Answers (2024) | 5 Worked Solutions & Tutorial!

For even more questions, practice numerical reasoning tests with answers, worked-solutions and professional score reports including personalised tips based on your performance – we at GF have you covered.

Read on for even more answers to the top burning questions about numerical reasoning tests!

Numerical Ability Test FAQs

What is a SHL numerical test?

The SHL Verify numerical reasoning tests are an interactive assessment set which employers use to find candidates with the best numerical reasoning skills. These assessments can last up to 18 minutes and consist of around 10 multiple choice questions as well as interactive tables, graphs and charts.

How to practice numerical reasoning tests?

To get the most out of your practice and improve your numerical reasoning ability, consider the following numerical reasoning test practice tips:

  • Start methodically and slowly
  • Focus on a single test and take one question at a time
  • Develop an understanding of the various topic areas
  • Use expert reports to learn areas of improvement
  • Take the tests again and use the worked solutions
  • Avoid rushing through practice test questions

For best practice for your numerical test, sign up with GF today for FREE numerical reasoning questions with worked solutions and progress tracking.

What is a good score on a numerical test?

A good score of a numerical reasoning test will depend on the role, test provider and the employer. For example, a result of between the 70-90 percentiles for the SHL numerical ability test is seen as a strong score for an applicant to be considered for the next stage of the employer recruitment process.

Can you fail a numerical reasoning test?

The majority of numerical reasoning tests do not have negative markings or a set fail mark, instead candidates may score poorly or better on the test based on percentile groups. For the best results always aim to improve accuracy and speed when answering to avoid scoring poorly in your online test. 

What is the difference between numerical and verbal reasoning?

Numerical reasoning tests assess candidates on their ability to reason with data on graphs, charts and tables to make calculations and reach the correct solution. Verbal reasoning on the other hand measures the candidate’s ability to reason with a passage of text using only the information provided.

Practice and Register with GF to ace your numerical reasoning tests first time

Do you want to pass your numerical reasoning tests, first time? Sign up for tools offered by GF, the only assessment practice test experts that provide tests to over 100 UK universities and their students, and also across Asia and continental Europe.

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