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Are you taking a numerical reasoning test as part of your job application or assessment? If you are, you are almost definitely going to encounter questions that deal with your ability to work with ratios. In this article we will explain what they are, their function as well as provide numerical tips and explanations helping you answer maths test questions that contain them.

In order to create a pizza for 6 people, 300 grams of cheese must be used. How much cheese would be necessary to make a pizza that would have sufficient cheese for 8 people?

In order to answer this question there are a number of different steps that need to be completed. The best way to work out this question is to calculate the amount of cheese each serving is getting. Once we have this we will have to correct ratio, here being 1:50. The 1 on the left side of the ratio represents the number of people and the 50 represents the amount of cheese. All we now need to do is multiply each side of the ratio by the number desired, in this case being 8, to get the correct answer.

Using fractions and decimals is a very useful way of evaluating ratios in numerical tests. This is because in a sense, a ratio is merely a different way expressing a fraction. For example we think of one quarter as ¼. This could be represented easily as a fraction as 0.25 but also in terms of ratios as 1:4. This is very important as when you are working out future calculations it is easier to simply do the same to both sides of the ratio in order to arrive at the correct answer.

Learning how to calculate ratios from other number data is also very important to the understanding of ratios. For example:

There a 7 shirts and 4 pairs of trousers in my cupboard. Calculate the ratio of shirts to clothes.

Here you are asked to perform two sets of calculations; first of all the total number of cloths (7+4=11) and then to work out the ratio of shirts to cloths. In this example, as there are seven shirts out of a total of 11 items of clothing the answer is 7:11.

When calculating a ratio there is an important point to bear in mind; are you being asked about the ratio units or are you being asked about the relationship between the two sides of the ratio. In the above example, we are asked to work out the relationship to the total number of clothes. To do this, we need to work out the total number of items in the closet. This is done by calculating the ratio units, 7+4. We then use that figure to craft the ratio. If however, you are asked to show the relationship between the two items we don’t need to know the total number of clothes and it is simply represented as 7:4 shirts: trousers.

When working with ratios it is very important to remember that it is always the item in the question that comes first is the beginning of the ratio, seven shirts to 11 items of clothing, NOT the other way round. If this ratio is expressed in the opposite direction it would mean that there are 11 shirts to 7 items of clothing, obviously nonsensical and definitely wrong.

Looking for a little more info? Check out our sample questions below.

What is the approximate ratio of 9 to 56?

**A.** 1:5

**B.** 1:6

**C.** 1:7

**D.** 1:8

**B** (1:6)

We need to find which of the options displays the same ratio as 9:56.

As the left side of all of the options is 1, we can simply divide both sides of 9:56 by 9, thus arriving at the ratio of 1:6.2

Since we are asked to find the **approximate **ratio, we need to choose the option that is the closest to the actual result.

6.2 is closer to 6 than it is to 7. Thus, the approximate ratio is 1:6.

A dance group consists of 22 dancers.

The ratio of men to women in the group is 5:6.

How many of the dancers are women?

**A.** 6

**B. **8

**C. **10

**D. **12

The correct answer is **D **(12)

If there are 5 men for every 6 women, it means that there are 5+6=11 dancers in total in each "set" of dancers. It follows that 5/11 of the dancers are men, and 6/11 of the dancers are women. To find out how many dancers are women, we need to multiply the number of dancers by 6/11:

22*(6/11) = (22/11)*6 = 2*6 = 12.

The ratio of smokers to non-smokers in the population is 3:17.

What is the ratio of smokers to the entire population?

**A.** 14:0.17

**B. **17:1

**C. **15:1

**D. **85:1

The correct answer is **C **(15:1)

The population is composed of smokers and non-smokers. Based on the information provided in the question, we can say that for every 20 people, 3 are smokers and 17 are non-smokers. Thus, the ratio of smokers to the entire population is 3:20.

Unfortunately, this is not one of the answer choices. We therefore need to figure out which of the options displays the same ratio as 3:20.

Based on rough estimation, we can eliminate options A and D as they present a ratio close to 1:1, while we are looking for a ratio of about 1:7.

Since both remaining options present a ratio of x to 1, it is best to divide both sides of the ratio by 20, thus arriving at the following x to 1 ratio - 0.15:1.

We have come to a basic understanding of how ratios work and gone through a few examples that you could face as part of a numerical reasoning test. Practising these questions and gaining confidence to calculate them in a short amount of time is the only key to success. Many of the top financial and consulting companies include numerical reasoning tests in their recruiting process, and a strong understanding of ratios is an essential part of the preparation for these tests. JobTestPrep provides company-specific PrepPacks, such as the Macquarie psychometric assessment preparation, practice tests that mimic the style of specific test providers, e.g. Cubiks test preparation, and an extensive range of all-inclusive practice numerical reasoning tests that you can take under timed conditions, with or without a calculator, or as a practice session.

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