Can I Prepare for Psychometric Tests?

You may hear people say that it is not possible to prepare for psychometric tests. This is simply untrue. Everyone, if they practice, can improve their test scores. The biggest gains are achieved quite quickly and result from becoming familiar with the types of question and from getting ‘into the groove’ of answering them.

Research suggests that the amount of improvement you can expect will depend on three areas.

  1. Your Educational Background - The longer that you have been out of the educational system and the less formal your educational background, the more likely you are to benefit from practice. Both of these factors suggest that familiarity with any type of examination process, both formal and timed, will give you an advantage.

  1. Your Personal Interests - Most people who have been out of education for more than a few years will have forgotten how to multiply fractions and calculate volumes. While it is easy to dismiss these as 'first grade' or elementary maths, most people simply don't do these things on a day-to-day basis unless their job or a hobby demands it. Practice will refresh these dormant skills.

  1. The Quality of the Practice Material - If you are unfamiliar with the types of test questions then you will waste valuable time trying to determine what exactly the questions are asking you to do. This unfamiliarity also causes you to worry about whether you have understood the question correctly and this also wastes mental energy, which you could otherwise spend on getting the correct answer. By increasing your familiarity with the style and types of questions you will improve your scores.

The first of these factors is beyond your control, the second may be worth addressing in the longer term if you feel that increasing you facility with maths would benefit your career. However, it is not going to make much difference to your psychometric test results in the short term. This leaves you with the ‘quality of the practice material’ as the best way to improve your score.

Firstly, the material itself needs to match as closely as possible the tests that you expect to take. The questions on this website are based on the question types used by the most popular test providers in the industry and are updated regularly to reflect the latest trends.

Secondly, you should practice the material in the most realistic way possible. Find somewhere where you will not be disturbed and go through each paper without interruption and try to stick to the time limit. Do not have anything with you that are not allowed on the day of the test and switch off your mobile phone.

The tests are generally about twenty minutes long. If you don’t have an uninterrupted twenty minutes for a practice paper, then try to complete the first half of the questions in ten minutes and treat the second half as another ten minute paper. Concentrate one hundred percent for the duration of the test as this keeps the practice as realistic as possible.

Some organizations apply psychometric testing in ways that are directly relevant to the job. For example, you may only have to take a numerical reasoning test if the job you're applying for requires good numerical skills. However, many organizations use a battery of tests as a matter of routine irrespective of the particular demands of the job.

The job selection process usually involves an initial screening of candidates resumes against the job specification. Most candidates will be discarded at this point because either their qualifications or experience are judged to be insufficient. The remaining candidates will then be sent a letter inviting them for an initial interview and telling them when and where the testing will take place and what form it will take.

You will usually receive a few sample test questions, so that you have an idea of the type of questions used in the test. It is very unlikely that you will be given enough questions to use for any worthwhile practice. It is only to make sure that nobody is going to be upset or surprised when they see the test paper.

When you receive this letter, if you have any special requirements you must notify the test center immediately. This would include disabled access and any eyesight or hearing disability you may have. Large text versions of the test should be available for anyone who is visually impaired and provision for written instructions should be made for anyone with a hearing disability.

You will usually be told the date, time and place of the test. The format, duration and whether there are any breaks scheduled. The types of test you will be given, any materials that will be supplied and whether the test is paper based or uses a PC or palm-top computer.

In addition, if you are asked to sit a psychometric test as part of the recruitment process, you should:

  • Be briefed about the purpose of the test before taking it

  • Have the results of the test provided to you in a private feedback session

  • Be informed of organizational policy about distribution and storage of the results 

It is perfectly normal to feel some stress and nervousness when you are told that you need to take psychometric tests as part of the selection process. This can be a particular problem if you haven’t taken this type of test before. Most of the nervousness is simply a fear of the unknown and a feeling that you will ‘let yourself down’ and that the test will not be a fair reflection of your strengths and abilities.

You must act to tackle this stress or its effects will become more severe as the test approaches. You may experience physical symptoms such as a lack of ability to get to sleep and psychological symptoms such as loss of concentration and mild depression.

The job selection process will always involve an element of stressfulness, which is mostly due to confronting a situation over which you do not have total control. For example, you cannot predict or influence the personality or behavior of the interviewer or know in advance which questions you will be asked.

However you can, and probably have already, prepared for the most likely questions. You can also make educated guesses as to which areas of your resume the interviewer will concentrate on.

With regard to the psychometric test component of the selection process, your preparation can and should be far more straightforward. You can influence your scores in these tests significantly by understanding the question types and practicing them. Not only will this improve your test scores and increase the chance of you getting to the next stage of the selection process, but by taking positive action to prepare for psychometric tests you will tackle the cause of the stress directly.

You may also be interested in: An Introduction to Psychometric Tests, Personality Questionnaires and Aptitude Tests.

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