Aptitude Tests 101: What They Are & How They Work

In this chapter of our beginner's guide, we will get down to business and understand what exactly aptitude tests are. Take a brief look at the most common aptitude tests, including numeracy and literacy tests, along with verbal and logical reasoning assessments. Having a clear understanding of the different natures and styles of each form of test can greatly enhance your ability to succeed in them and how to prepare. Given the different styles, we show you various straightforward ways in which to solve them. 

What is an Aptitude Test?


An aptitude test is any type of assessment that evaluates the talent/ability/potential to perform a certain task, with no prior knowledge and/or training. To simplify this definition, think about the following examples: A True/False/Cannot say Verbal Reasoning test could help a legal firm evaluate the ability of a lawyer to draw conclusions from legal documents. A concentration test could help a rail operator evaluate a driver's ability to keep focused while being involved in the monotonous work of driving a train.

Numerical Tests

What is an Aptitude Test?One of the most common forms of psychometric tests is number based. Mathematics is crucial in everyday life and in almost all professions. This is why they are such a common feature in psychometric testing. There are two distinct levels of numerical tests: numeracy tests and numerical reasoning tests.

Numerical literacy and basic arithmetic operations: the 4 operations, basic calculations and use of a calculator. For more information, visit our basic numeracy page.

Numerical reasoning: Applying interpretation and analysis skills to reach conclusions. are used in jobs dealing with higher level numerical data. For more information, visit our numerical reasoning page.

Verbal Tests

Verbal reasoning tests are language based tests tailored to see how well the applicant can read and analyse a text or apply logical thinking on text based riddles. Verbal testing is typically found in the form of text analysis and linguistically based questions.

Text Analysis - In most cases, the test includes a passage followed by 3-4 related questions. The questions require basic reading comprehension or the ability to draw logical conclusions based on the information provided in the text. The questions are usually multiple choice, with true/false/cannot say being one of the most popular types.

Linguistically based questions - Included in this category are word analogies and odd one-out questions where quick analysis of words and their meanings is vital. These questions are shorter and require a background knowledge of the vocabulary at hand. For more information, visit our verbal reasoning page.

Language/Literacy Skills Tests

While verbal reasoning is language based, language aptitude or literacy skills tests are an assessment of your level of language and your ability to communicate clearly to others through writing. These are focused on the applicant’s knowledge in areas such as spelling, grammar, sentence structure and the general ability to use language proficiently. More information on language aptitude tests can be found here.

Deductive Reasoning Tests

These tests are designed to assess your logical thinking. Deduction questions may examine your ability to apply a set of rules ("theory") onto a specific example. Deductive reasoning tests can fall into three categories- verbal, numerical and nonverbal. While these categories utilise the same skills, non-verbal reasoning uses shapes and patterns to display information while verbal uses words and numerical uses numbers. Please see here for more on deductive reasoning.

Abstract Reasoning Tests

Abstract reasoning is a broad category that includes tests which ask you to draw logical conclusions based on information expressed through shapes, patterns and words. The major abstract reasoning tests used and discussed below are inductive, deductive and diagrammatic reasoning.

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning involves using specific information to make general conclusions. Tests in this area often include a series of shapes or matrices where you need to decide which answer comes next in the series or which one is missing to complete the series. For examples of this type of test, please see our inductive reasoning page.

Diagrammatic Reasoning

Diagrammatic involves drawing logical conclusions based on visual representations. This type of test uses letters, numbers and shapes to express information. You need to decipher the rules of the diagram in order to answer the questions. To learn more about this test and its complexities, please visit our diagrammatic reasoning page.

Technical Tests

These are centred on assessing the candidate’s ability for a wide array of technical jobs e.g. technicians, plant operators, engineers etc. Included in this category are spatial and mechanical reasoning, error checking and concentration tests. These tests do not, in most cases, require prior knowledge of technical concepts, but rather indicate your aptitude for technical skills.

Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning, awareness and orientation are all different names for the same test which assesses your ability to examine and navigate two and three dimensional spaces. These tests use images and diagrams depicting mirror reflections, cubes, perspectives and two dimensional shape organization in the questions. For more information and examples of spatial reasoning tests, visit our spatial reasoning page.

Mechanical/Electrical Reasoning

Mechanical and electrical reasoning tests either evaluate basic understanding of physics concepts, based on GCSE/high-school knowledge, or the aptitude/intuition to understand such concepts. For more information, visit our mechanical reasoning test page.

Error Checking

Error checking tests are commonly found in recruitment processes as they are an indication of your attention to detail and error spotting skills. The tests normally involve a list of numeric and alphanumeric data and you need to spot the inconsistencies in the data itself. To see more examples of this type of test and to learn more, see our error checking page.

Concentration Tests

Concentration tests are used at a range of job levels where high level of concentration is necessary to perform specific tasks. These are simple to look at but the speed and accuracy required make these difficult to focus on, not to mention how you are shown the same or similar information over and over again. Find out more about concentration tests on our dedicated page.







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