Prepare for Accountancy Firm Aptitude Tests

Accountancy careers are some of the most lucrative and hard to get worldwide. Many well-known firms look for the market's top accountants. Given the high competition, scoring high enough on the assessments and standing out from the crowd may seem impossible.

Being a top-of-the-class candidate used to be about flawlessly controlling numbers and calculations, but not anymore. Nowadays, accounting firms will put you through large sets of additional assessments. This is why overcoming the harsh competition will require thorough studying and preparation methods.

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Accountancy Assessment Tests

In today's global economy, the competition for accounting roles is much fiercer. Considering the technological advances in data analysis, assessments for new employees have become increasingly challenging in recent years.

Not only will you be tested on much more than old-school numerical reasoning, but in most cases, you will also face personality tests, job simulations, case studies, assessment centres, and several interviews, some of which are pre-recorded, meaning you will not even meet an interviewer.

Below, you will find sample questions for the most common test types you will face in the recruitment process.

If you already know which assessments you will have to take, go ahead and pick your desired accounting firm from the list below.

Accounting Sample Questions

Numerical Reasoning Tests

Traditionally, numerical problems are common among accounting aptitude tests. The primary challenge of these questions is quick reading while also comprehending advanced arithmetic problems. While some questions may include only a single source of information, others, like Cappfinity's (EY, KPMG), may include several.

Let's have a look at an easy question, containing only one data source. You will need to analyze the given data and reach a conclusion about which of the multiple-choice answers is the correct one.

Numerical Reasoning Sample Question

You are reviewing the latest data collected from three factories regarding the manufacturing of the company's best-selling product.

Based on the data provided, which factory is the most efficient?

Factory  #

Working Time (days) Total Units
Factory 1 17 1513 137
Factory 2 13 957 56
Factory 3 14 1241 95






View Explanation

The correct answer is C.

First, you must understand the question and how it translates to the data provided by the table. You are presented with data regarding three factories and asked which factory is the most efficient — which factory provides the most units in the least amount of time.

To calculate a factory's efficiency, subtract defective units produced from the total units produced, and divide the result by the working time. The result will be the number of the factory's units produced per day.

  • Factory 1: 1,513 - 137 = 1,376 working units. 1376/17 = 80.94 per day.
  • Factory 2: 957 - 56 = 901 working units. 901/13 = 69.31 units per day.
  • Factory 3: 1,241 - 95 = 1,146 working units. 1,146/14 = 81.86 units per day.

The calculation shows that Factory 3 is the most efficient one, for it produces the largest amount of non-defective units every day.

Although challenging, this is considered an intermediate question, as you only face one table. Numerical Reasoning questions may include various tables and graphs that will demand data integration between them or sorting relevant info. Most firms will include different variations of numerical questions, so investing time in numerical reasoning preparation is vital.

Gamified Tests

Many great accounting firms have decided to put aside classic reasoning assessments and evaluate their candidates' cognitive aptitudes with gamified tests. From behavioral tendencies through learning abilities and logical reasoning, you may not even know which ability is measured by the game you are facing. While thankful at first, many candidates soon realize that these so-called games are highly tricky and complicated, putting them out of balance and missing on their job opportunities. The most famous of these are PwC's Arctic Shores and Schroders's Aon/Cut-e games.

Let's have a look at one of the many type of gamified questions, straight out of our Schroders's preparation pack:

This type of test is called SwitchChallenge, made by Aon. It evaluates your deductive logical reasoning and understanding of principles and patterns in an effort to apply them to problem-solving.

Two or three rows of symbols will be presented, with a sequence of digit operators being the link between their different arrangements.
Your task is to find the correct operator responsible for the transformation.
You have 6 minutes to complete as many of these tasks.


Gamified Test Sample Question

Which operator is needed to convert the input sequence into the output sequence?

Schroders switch challenge example





View Explanation

In this question, there are two rows of symbols and a missing operator.

The operator changes the order of the symbols that appear in the upper row to a new order in the lower row.

The digits of the operator represent the symbol according to its position in the upper row before the operator changed it.

To solve this question, you should look at the first symbol of the lower row. Search the position of that symbol in the upper row.

This position is the first digit of the operator.

The correct answer is (C).

How did you do? As difficult as these questions can initially be, they get progressively more challenging the more items you solve. That's why knowing the type of tasks you are up against is vital so you can have proper practice.

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Verbal Reasoning Tests

Another common type of assessment for accounting roles is verbal reasoning. The goal is to assess verbal and written communication skills along with test analysis speed. A good example is the EY verbal reasoning test, which includes paragraphs with different tasks, such as sorting and summarizing statements in order of fitness. Let's have a look at one type of these verbal reasoning questions, taken from Talent-Q (RSM, PA consulting) tests:

Verbal Reasoning Sample Question

Drug Offences

Across Europe, the three most common ways of punishing a person for a drug possession offence are a warning, fine and suspended prison sentence. With the exception of a few countries, community work orders are very rarely used to sanction this offence. Those convicted of supply offences are likely to receive a prison sentence, though many of these are suspended sentences, and few receive the long sentences that are often brought up in public debates. Considerable differences between countries exist regarding how strongly they draw the line between users as individuals needing treatment or counselling and traffickers as criminals. An individual country's criminal justice system recognizes some people as sick and thus tries to divert them to treatment, following one of its primary aims of deterrence, and channels others towards punishment.

Although it is widely felt that users should not go to prison for offences against drug laws, some still do, usually a small percentage of those who appear before a court. Further research would be needed to understand why: whether they are addicts who have no money for a fine, are in breach of probation, or are recidivists for whom treatment has not proven successful. 

The passage suggests which one of the following criticisms directed at the justice system?







View Explanation

The last section of the passage offers us a glimpse of the author's thoughts: 'although it is widely felt that users should not go to prison for offences against drug laws, some still do.. further research would be needed to understand why'. It appears that the author does not believe users should be considered criminals and feels they are wrongly incarcerated — answer E is correct. Other answer options are either not mentioned in the passage or are indicated but are not criticism.

How did you do? Did you manage to answer correctly, or was it confusing?

As said, you will find different variations of these questions when applying for the major accounting firms. The best preparation method will be to start with solving several verbal reasoning tests and then move up to the more advanced questions.

Situational Judgement Reasoning Tests

Situational judgement assessments have become a popular tool in the screening process of many accounting firms worldwide, including BDO, KPMG and Mazars. On many cases, they will be accompanied by personality tests, but not always.

How did SJT questions become so popular?

The working environment of accountants is highly fast-paced. This is due to dealing with tight deadlines and the moment-to-moment need to arrange complicated and sensitive data. Accounting firms want to know if their employees can withstand such a rush while staying a good team player and maintaining good work ethics.

This is why these questions are usually in the spirit of the firm's core values and expected strengths. The "right" answer is the one aligning with the recruiting firm's DNA.

Let's look at one of these questions, taken from our Deloitte preparation.

Situational Judgement Sample Question

Our supervisor, Jill, has presented you with the opportunity to assume a higher level of responsibility within the team. This comes as a surprise, especially since there are others with more experience who could also fill the role.

How do you respond?

Please RANK the following responses on a scale of 1 to 5 — with 1 being what you are most likely to do and 5 being what you are least likely to do.

A. Caught off guard by the offer, you nevertheless embrace the challenge and commit to excelling in the new role.

B. You see the invitation as a chance to demonstrate your capability in ensuring the project's goals are achieved and willingly step up to the plate.

C. You propose a team-oriented strategy where duties are distributed, believing that a collective effort is most effective for success.

D. You're motivated by opportunities that allow you to have a direct impact on project results, and therefore, you eagerly accept the new responsibilities without hesitation

E. Considering the project's significance, you suggest that it might be more appropriate for someone with more tenure in the team to take on the leadership role.

View Explanation

A. Caught off guard by the offer, you nevertheless embrace the challenge and commit to excelling in the new role. (no. 3)

B. You see the invitation as a chance to demonstrate your capability in ensuring the project's goals are achieved and willingly step up to the plate. (no. 1)

C. You propose a team-oriented strategy where duties are distributed, believing that a collective effort is most effective for success. (no. 4)

D. You're motivated by opportunities that allow you to have a direct impact on project results, and therefore, you eagerly accept the new responsibilities without hesitation. (no. 2)

E. Considering the project's significance, you suggest that it might be more appropriate for someone with more tenure in the team to take on the leadership role. (no. 5)

These questions appear to be innocent, giving the recruitment team a chance to get to know the real you. However, it is not always in your best interest to make authentic decisions based on your personality and behaviour. Even a small deviation from the core values and strength that may be perceived in your mental response, as portrayed by your ranking of answers, might be the end of your recruitment process. That's why you need to understand what the firm is looking for and act accordingly.

What Other Accountancy Assessments Test Are There?

The numerical, verbal and SJT reasoning tests are just the tip of the iceberg for most of the major accounting firms. As you have seen, you may also face game challenges like PwC's Arctic Shores and Schroders's Aon/Cut-e gamified tests and many other assessments. These include:

Personality Tests — These tests question your motivation, work style and how you relate to the people around you.

Critical Thinking Tests — These tests evaluate your ability to assess situations while considering various factors, such as perspectives, facts, opinions, and assumptions.

Logical Reasoning Tests — The SwitchChallnge test you took is just one of many different logical reasoning assessments you may face. These focus on your ability to identify patterns.

In-tray tests — These tests examine how you prioritise and manage tasks.

This again emphasizes the need for thorough studying methods and practice programs.

If you are planning to apply to one or more of the Big-4 accounting firms, which are known for utilizing many different types of tests, make sure to check our Big-4 Tests Bundle.

Recruitment Process for Accounting Roles

While each firm has its own recruitment process, most of them share these common stages:

Online application — submitting an online application which typically includes your CV, academic transcript and cover letter.

Online aptitude tests — taking a series of online aptitude tests, including different reasoning sections according to the firm's preferences and a job simulation.

Job simulations — used mostly by Big 4 firms, it is a series of tests mimicking different aspects of the job you applied to. These will usually include case studies, virtual job tryouts and role-playing.

Pre-recorded interviews — these may play a part in job simulations or be used as stand-alone. They will include interview questions and word-related scenarios.

Interviews — may be held on the phone or in person and done by an HR recruiter or one of the firm's partners, depending on the firm and the stage of recruitment. The number of interviews in the recruitment process may vary between firms and applicants, depending on the interviewer's evaluation. The goals of these interviews are similar – questioning your strengths and motivations for applying to the firm and challenging you with different work-related scenarios.

Assessment Centre — many firms will require your participation in an assessment centre. These usually include presentations, group exercises and case studies.

Receiving a job offer — the final exciting part of the recruitment process. If you successfully complete the different stages, you will receive a job offer.

Prepare for Any Accounting Test

During your application for accounting and consulting firms, you'll be required to take several different tests. Our Premium Membership will help prepare you for all of them:

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Explore More Accounting and Consulting Firms Across the UK

Check the links below to learn more about top firms' applications and selection processes:

Most banks, like Schroder and UBS, also hold many great opportunities for accounting roles.
Broaden your horizon! Get to know the different assessments banks will have you face. 

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We at JobTestPrep find the assessment tests world highly diverse and fascinating. If you are looking to deepen your knowledge in the aptitude tests world, or you want some extra practice before your test, we've got you covered!

Check out these fantastic free practice tests (all are completely free):

Free Aptitude Test | Free Psychometric Test | Free Numerical Reasoning Test | Free Verbal Reasoning Test | Free Cognitive Test | Free Critical Thinking Test | Free Abstract Reasoning Test | Free Spatial Reasoning Tets | Free Personality Test | Free Inductive Test