What is an Aptitude Test?

Congratulations, you’ve finally found the job advertisement of your dreams. If you’ve read through the step by step application process and discovered that aptitude testing is included in the list of recruitment steps, don’t panic. Regardless of your previous aptitude test results, you too can achieve a great score that will help you win that dream employment contract. To help you on your way, we’re going to discuss what an aptitude test is and how you can prepare to excel in your upcoming exam.

Why are aptitude tests used?

Aptitude tests are a common tool used by recruiters and employers alike to determine which candidate has the skillset as outlined in their position description. While many potential employees have similar backgrounds and educational experiences, they all come with different skill and competency levels. Employers use these tests to determine whether you possess the ability to do the job accurately and are a necessity in roles where employees are responsible for crucial decisions in the business as well as roles that could potentially influence the company’s reputation.

How are aptitude tests administered?

The most common time you’ll come across an aptitude test is during the final stages of the recruitment process, which is the time when an employer is looking to determine the best fitting candidate on their shortlist. The test delivery method depends entirely on the potential employer. Some employers prefer an on-site testing method, where you complete the test in a controlled environment. Other employers prefer to trust candidates, allowing them to do the test at home or in the workplace. Another strategy some companies use is a combination of on-site and remote testing, where the remote testing stage is completed as part of the screening process. If you’re asked to do a follow-up aptitude test, don’t fret. It simply means they want to check whether you possess more specific skills and abilities that relate more closely to the role.

What is the structure of an aptitude test?

These days, most aptitude tests are taken online. The most common structure is a multi-choice test, often divided up into two, three, or four stages depending on the number of skills the potential employer would like to examine. If you are taking it at a recruiter’s office or in the company itself, there will normally be a quiet, enclosed space free of distractions for you to use for a set number of minutes. The test itself displays a timer, which shows how much time you have left of the test, as well as the multiple-choice answers for you to choose from.

What are the different types of aptitude tests?

Aptitude tests are designed to gauge almost every professional skill and competency. Many employers choose to create their own custom test which examines competencies specific to the company, specific to the role, or both. Simply put, if you shine in your aptitude test, you’re more likely to be offered the job. Here are the 16 most common aptitude tests and what employers are looking for when they use them:

  1. Cognitive Aptitude Test
    The cognitive aptitude test is similar to an IQ test, in that it measures a candidate’s verbal, numerical, spatial, and abstract reasoning skills. A high score on this test demonstrates that you are a well-rounded employee with the skill set to solve workplace problems accurately, use information efficiently, learn new work-related skills quickly, and think in a critical way, which is important if you are aiming for an executive position.
  2. Numerical Aptitude Test
    The numerical aptitude test focuses exclusively on the candidate’s mathematical competency. This test is crucial for workers looking to gain employment in numbers dominated fields, such as finance, sales, banking, trade, or any other role where financial accuracy is of the highest importance. A high score on this test shows you can solve complex mathematical problems, use graphs and data efficiently, and think logically about numbers-based information.
  3. Verbal Aptitude Test
    Communication skills are a sought-after skill, which is why verbal aptitude is a common component of many customized multi-subject aptitude tests. While this test is important for professionals across every industry, it is especially important for workers whose role is dominated by word-specific tasks, such as editing, writing, as well as executives, CEOs, and managers. A high score demonstrates your ability to solve verbal problems, shows you have a functioning knowledge of correct grammar and spelling conventions, and that you’re able to comprehend and relay complex passages of text.
  4. Abstract Reasoning Test
    The abstract reasoning test demonstrates your ability to analyze information, discover patterns, logical rules, and apply this to solve problems in the workplace. These are the kinds of patterns you may recall from IQ tests, which ask you to find the next step or the missing piece in a series of images. A high score on this test tells your potential employer that you are a highly-functioning problem solver that can think on your feet and performs well regardless of what you face.
  5. Spatial Ability Test
    The spatial ability test demonstrates your ability to mentally visualize 2D and 3D objects, which shows you have the potential to perform in engineering, chemistry, aviation, the arts, architecture, and other related positions where detailed visualization is an asset. A high score on this test confirms you have the ability to visualize from sketches and can form clear, accurate images in your mind.
  6. Mechanical Aptitude Test
    If you are applying for a mechanical role, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to take an aptitude test in addition to other tests, such as the cognitive aptitude test. This test examines your basic general knowledge of mechanisms, physical laws, and problem-solving. A high score on this test demonstrates you know the fundamentals of mechanical related skills, that you have the capacity to apply your current knowledge to new situations, which makes you a good candidate for the role.
  7. Clerical Ability Test
    The clerical ability test is specifically designed for clerks, receptionists, secretaries, and other administrative workers. It confirms that applicants have the skills they say they do and it is used to determine which candidates are more highly skilled in practice compared to others. A high score on this test confirms you have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform well in a clerical setting.
  8. Critical Thinking Test
    Most critical thinking tests are based on the Watson Glaser Aptitude test. Through a series of statements, candidates must choose whether the statement is true, probably true, insufficient data, probably false, or false. This aptitude test is most commonly used in legal practices or in businesses which deal with a large amount of legal information. A high score on this test demonstrates you have excellent critical thinking skills which predict you will perform well in a related task.
  9. Typing Aptitude Test
    Typing is a fundamental skill across nearly every industry, which is why an aptitude test has been designed to allow employees to compare candidates by speed and accuracy. While this suitable for data entry workers, it’s suitable for any workplace where typing is a core task. A high score on this test demonstrates you type at a productive rate and your output is flawless, which shows you pay attention to detail while also working effectively.
  10. Microsoft Suite Tests
    Microsoft suite tests utilize simulations to check and confirm your skills in action in comparison to other candidates. Depending on the employer’s requirements, this can include Word, Excel, or both. A high score demonstrates you have the ability to do the tasks required in your day to day job and will increase the chance you’ll come out the other side with a fresh new employment contract.
  11. Perceptual Speed
    If the role you are applying for requires you to deal with large volumes of data, then you might be asked to complete a perceptual speed aptitude test. Tasks vary depending on the role you are applying for – the most common situation is, that you will be asked to work on tasks similar to those in the day to day role. A high score on this test demonstrates you can produce large quantities of work in an error-free manner.
  12. Situational Judgment Tests
    The situational judgment test is commonly requested when recruitment for roles which require candidates to act in an appropriate manner with little prior notice. Various real-world situations require the applicant to select the most appropriate response or course of action that they would take if they take the role. A high result in this aptitude test tells employers you are very situationally aware and can behave in an appropriate manner that is in line with the company or organization’s values, philosophy, policy, or code of conduct.
  13. In-tray Aptitude Test
    The in-tray aptitude test is a simulation used to test your ability to respond in real time to a business scenario. A part of this task involves prioritizing your workflow and then justifying why you chose that specific order. A high score on this test shows employers you are an experienced worker with the ability to self-manage your tasks in an efficient manner and that you have the reasoning to back up your actions and decisions.
  14. Error Checking Tests
    Error checking tests determine how well a candidate can identify errors in data as well as their commitment to producing correct information. This skill is important in any role which is required to manage data, such as invoice processing, secretarial work, editing, data management, and customer support roles. A high score on this test indicates that you pay attention to detail, work with accuracy, and have the ability to identify issues before they cause problems.

Practice makes perfect

Most aptitude test takers are simply out of practice. If you think back to when you graduated high school, college, or graduate school, you would have been in the right environment to do well on a test. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while and you’re considering taking an aptitude test, then be aware that your score might not be a true reflection of your ability. The best thing you can do is practice until you are producing a score that reflects your true ability, value, potential, and capacity in your future dream role. To find out how you are performing right now, why not take our free quick aptitude test to discover your very own score?

Woman happy because she passed her aptitude test
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