How to prepare for psychometric tests
Many employers use psychometric tests as part of the recruitment and selection process for jobs, work placements and internships. They are very common in graduate recruitment.
You can be asked to take tests early on, as part of the initial online screening process, or at a later stage like at an assessment centre day.
Types of psychometric tests
Tests can be used to:
- identify the people best suited to a particular job
- let employers see if you are a good fit for their company culture
- screen a lot of applicants without having to interview everyone
Some employers are developing tests that you do through online games or apps. Tests are standardised and often strictly timed. To perform well you need both speed and accuracy.
Tests used in application screening generally measure:
- ability – your knowledge and skills
- aptitude – your natural ability to do something
- personality – things like your typical ways of thinking, motivations, interests, values and beliefs
You’ll see tests of things like:
- verbal reasoning – your ability to understand written information
- numerical reasoning – how you think using numbers
- abstract or spatial reasoning – your ability to understand patterns, logical rules or work with shapes
- personality - questions about how you behave that have no right or wrong answers and are used to predict how you might act in a work situation
- situational judgement tests - set a scene and ask what you would do in that situation
Psychometric testing for people with a disability
If you have a disability that might affect your test performance, you can ask for reasonable adjustments, so that the testing process is fair. This can include things like:
- being able to use screen reading software
- increasing the time allowed to complete the test
Get in touch with the employer as soon as you are asked to take a test, to make sure these adjustments are made.
How to prepare for a psychometric test
You do not have to revise before a psychometric test, though it helps to get some practice. This will give you a chance to:
- get familiar with the types of questions you’re likely to be asked
- overcome your nerves
- work out how much time you’re likely to have on each question so you can pace yourself
- learn tips to make sure you perform at your best
You can find free practice tests on sites like:
- The Psychometric Test Project
- The British Psychological Society
- Practice aptitude tests
- SHL practice tests
If you’re at university or a recent graduate, check whether your university careers service is able to give you free access to any test materials. They may also run workshops or mock assessment centres to help you prepare.
Check the website of the company you are applying to, as they may have practice tests. Careers sites for professions like law, medicine and finance may have more specific practice materials used in these sectors. There are also lots of books available that offer tips and advice.
Learn from your mistakes
Go over your answers to find out where you are weakest. You can improve by doing more of the kinds of questions you find most difficult. If sites provide feedback on your performance this can help you to focus on areas to work on.
Going over maths skills like fractions, percentages and ratios can be useful for numerical reasoning tests.
Tips for taking psychometric tests
- sit somewhere quiet with no distractions and try to stay calm
- have a pen, paper and calculator to hand
- do the tests on a laptop or PC and use headphones if you have them
- make sure you have a reliable internet connection
- log on with plenty of time ahead, close down all other windows and maximise the test window
- check the timings – some tests will actually tell you how long you have for each question, for others you may have to work it out
- read the instructions carefully and do the practice questions before you start
- do not use the back button in your browser as it may end the test without saving your answers
- if you can’t answer a question don’t stick on it and lose time– take a guess and move on
- if you answer a question and have time before the next one appears, use the time to calm yourself with a couple of deep breaths