Aptitude tests

Get to grips with the selection tests you might have to take when you apply for a job.

What's an aptitude test?

Image shows multiple choice selection boxes on a form.

Aptitude tests and psychometric tests help employers find out more about you. Some check whether you have the right practical skills for a job. Others help them see if you’ll fit in with their team.

They give the employer an idea of how you’d behave and whether you're a good candidate.

Not all employers use an aptitude test. They’re common for some Modern Apprenticeships and graduate recruitment programmes. They’re also popular with construction, engineering, energy and mechanics employers.

Types of aptitude tests

The type of test depends on the employer, and what they want to find out. Common types of test include:

Practical assessments

These test whether you have the practical skills for the job. For example, you might have to work with a mock customer to show your communication and service skills. Or, you could be asked to demonstrate your technical skills by using equipment or software you’ll need to use on the job.

Numerical reasoning

These test your ability to deal with numbers. Questions could be about percentages, graphs, currency or arithmetic.

Verbal reasoning

These test whether you can understand and interpret information. You might have to read a paragraph and answer a question about it.

Non-verbal reasoning or diagrammatic

Instead of written information, you're asked questions about a series of images. This tests your understanding and problem solving skills.

Personality tests

These give an employer an idea of whether you'd suit the job and their workplace. For example, questions about what you like to do.

Situational judgement

This tests how you’d approach different scenarios which might take place at work. The questions will be about issues and how you'd resolve them.

Online or in person?

Many employers will ask you to complete an online aptitude test. If that’s the case, make sure that your internet connection is reliable.

Check exactly which test you need to complete and what links and logins you need. The employer should have given you this information, but if you’re unsure just ask. When the time comes to take the test, make sure that no-one is going to interrupt you.

Turn off your phone and other distractions like the TV or radio.

Alternatively, you could be given a time and place to go and take your test. Sometimes tests take place as part of an assessment centre. This means you might take part in several activities over the course of a day or a few hours – including interviews, tests, and group exercises. Find out more about assessment centres in our interview advice

If you're going in somewhere to take your test, make a good impression. Look smart, and arrive in plenty of time. Remember that your behaviour could be being watched at all times. So be professional and friendly, and focus on the task at hand. 

Five tips to help you pass

Follow these tips and be prepared to take on your test. 

Practise

Ask if they can provide a practice aptitude test. If not, you can find free practice tests online. Try it out so you know what to expect.

Don’t overthink

Read the instructions carefully and do what you’re asked to.

Be honest

With personality or situational judgement tests, don’t try to figure out what an employer wants you to say. Say what you think.

Focus

Don’t let yourself get distracted – you probably don’t have time. Focus on each question in turn.

Keep calm

If a question is too tricky, don’t spend too long struggling on it. Move on to the next one – if you have time, you can go back. 

 

Example questions

We've prepared some examples to show you the kind of questions you might get in different kinds of tests. 

Q1. Which of the following is most like you?

  • Strong and determined
  • Enthusiastic and friendly
  • Caring and sharing
  • Questioning and careful

This is an example of a question you might get on a personality test. There’s no ‘correct’ answer – you should pick the one you feel most reflects you.

Q2. You’ve been given a task by your supervisor which needs to be done quickly. They’ve given you a brief, but when you start you realise you don’t quite understand some of the instructions. Do you:

  • Get on with the work as best you can – you don’t want to waste time
  • Do some research on your own. You think you can find information to help you understand what you’re doing better
  • Ask your supervisor for more information and talk through the parts which are confusing you
  • Ask someone else to help you

This is an example of question you might get in a situational judgement test. The employer is trying to find out how you might act in the workplace. They might ask you to rank the answers depending on what you think is most effective. They can match your answers to what they’d like you to do in real life.

Q3. Read the paragraph, then decide whether the following statement is true or false: 

The first tweet ever sent on Twitter was ‘just setting up my twttr’ on March 21, 2006. More than 300 billion tweets have been sent since then and more than 500 million users are signed up. That includes more than 20 million fake user accounts.

Statement: Every Twitter user has tweeted at least 10 times. 

  • True
  • False
  • Can’t say from this information

This is an example of a verbal reasoning question. An employer wants to see that you can understand the information and think through what it’s telling you. So for this example, despite knowing that there have been 300 billion tweets and 500 million users, you can’t say for sure that each user has tweeted 10 times. So, your answer has to reflect that you can't say from this information.

Practice aptitude tests

You can find practice tests for lots of different types of aptitude tests online. Try the useful links below.