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What Is A Psychometric Test And How Do Students Survive Psychometric Testing?

General Introduction To Psychometric Tests
If you are a graduate or you are just about to graduate, chances are, you will have begun to think about your graduate job hunt - indeed, you might even have already started in earnest dipped your toes into the application process for some careers.

In this article, we will look at the application process for graduate jobs; in particular, psychometric testing. These days, many of the larger companies that advertise their graduate schemes will have a set application process which will often involve attending an assessment centre (see our E4S article about assessment centres for graduate jobs) at some stage during your application and also taking part in a psychometric testing process.

What Is A Psychometric Test?
As well as helping you and your possible future employer for your graduate job know whether you are right for each other, psychometric tests are also used as a filter. As you are no doubt aware, competition for some types of graduate jobs can be very high and, for graduate recruitment, many employers - particularly those in the United Kingdom’s top companies - can receive thousands of applications for places on their graduate schemes. Psychometric testing is used as a filtering process so that employers can find out at an early stage whether particular candidates are suitable for their graduate roles.

Psychometric testing covers ability, aptitude and there will also be personality questionnaires.

Psychometric tests are very carefully researched by companies so that the testing process is not only completely tailored to that particular company but also so that employers know they are getting the most suitable graduates for the job, not just based on your abilities in the workplace but also your personality. When it comes to the personality questionnaires, these are designed so that both you and your future employer know whether you are going to thrive within a particular company’s culture.

Perhaps you have already spoken to graduates who have been through the psychometric testing process in the past, or perhaps you have spoken to careers advisors or your university lecturers. Whoever you have discussed psychometric tests with, or whatever previous tips and information you have read about graduate recruitment, all will tell you that it is a very good idea to hunt out some psychometric test examples before hand so that you can prepare yourself and give yourself an idea of what to expect when you are invited to an assessment centre, for example, as part of your application for graduate programmes.

Although psychometric testing is designed so that you are placed in direct competition with your fellow candidates who are also hoping for the same graduate jobs as you are, a bit of preparation beforehand with practice psychometric tests will put you on a level playing field with those who have also prepared. Doing psychometric tests online and also on paper means you are giving yourself the best possible chance of landing yourself a placement on graduate programmes.

You will be able to find a practice psychometric test online via various websites and universities and don't forget to also make use of your local careers service. They should also have practice psychometric test questions for you to get some practice in.

Advantages Of Psychometric Tests
Those two words - psychometric tests - tend to strike fear into every student and graduate who comes across them but hopefully, by the time you have finished reading this article, you will feel more relaxed about them and know that that psychometric testing is not there especially to make your job application process a miserable one.

Employers are increasingly using assessment centres and psychometric testing as part of the application process. Those employers who do use them really value the psychometric test system because they get a broader picture of you as a person and a fuller idea of your capabilities on top of what you have achieved academically.

Psychometric tests are there for your benefit as well as for the benefit of your potential future employer - they want to know you are the right person for their job...but you also need to know whether that graduate job is actually suited to your abilities and your personality. A psychometrics test is designed to offer solutions for both of these issues.

Another advantage of the psychometric test process is the fact that, in effect, you get more than one bite at the cherry. For example, you might mess up in one part of the testing process but really shine in another section. Yes, that might mean you don't land the place you wanted on the graduate programme, but you could be offered a graduate job in a slightly different field within the company because your strengths are more matched to that area.

When Will I Do A Psychometric Test?
Well, the answer to that question is, you could be asked to do psychometric tests at any stage during the application process for graduate jobs.
  • As soon as you hit the ‘apply now’ button. If you apply for graduate jobs online, many companies will ask you to complete an online questionnaire to see şf you and the company are a good match for each other before you get down to the nitty gritty of filling in application forms and attending interviews and assessment centres, for example. If you don't get through this initial personality questionnaire, it does not mean you have failed. Look upon it as a bonus because it simply means you and the company are not suited.This initial psychometric test means both you and the employer have saved yourselves time and energy by not pursuing an application for a job that wouldn't have suited you.
  • Early in the application process. You could be asked to do psychometric tests early in the application process for graduate jobs. This could be after you have completed the application form and the employer likes what they have seen. If you are asked to take part in psychometric testing early in the application process, you could be asked to do another one later on as your application progresses. This could be at assessment centres for example and it is to compare the results from your initial test.
  • At assessment centres. Many of the bigger graduate employers are now using assessment centres as part of their application process and if you haven't done one previously, this is the place where you will be asked to take part in a series of psychometric tests. as we said above, even if you have already done a psychometric test in the early stages of your application, you could still be asked to do them here, too.
  • Whenever you like! Yes, as we said above, if you want to do a free psychometric test, there are lots of them out there that you can use to practice with so that you know what to expect when the time comes where you are asked to do one. Practice psychometric tests can improve your speed so that you can complete more questions on the actual day. And don't forget, psychometric testing is also there for your benefit, too. If you are a student or graduate and you are not sure which career path to take, why not do a psychometric test sample so that you can ascertain your own strengths and weaknesses. this could give you an idea of the types of graduate career that would suit you in the future and you can tailor your applications to those types of jobs.
How Do I Best Prepare Myself For A Psychometric Test?
Do Psychometric Test Examples
How do you prepare for anything? Practise, practise and practise some more. Psychometric test practice is essential if you are serious about landing graduate jobs. As well as familiarising yourself with the types of questions being asked, doing practice psychometric tests will also allow you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses (you might surprise yourself) and also give you an idea of what employers might be looking for when it comes to taking part in the real thing.

Identify And Work On Your Weaknesses
And it's not just a case of simply identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Doing sample psychometric test questions means you can then go off and work on those weaknesses so that you can answer the questions more quickly and accurately in the future. Nobody is expecting you to be an expert in every area and the other candidates will also have weaker areas, too - and so there is no need to over worry about those weak spots, getting yourself in a panic. But a bit of extra practice will do wonders for your confidence and, ultimately, your scores.

Don't get over-confident with a generic psychometric test example
The key thing with doing a practice psychometric test is not to get over confident with them. Doing practice psychometric test questions will give you a basic idea but always remember that companies will have their tests carefully tailored. Your sample tests are generic ones to give you practice.

Exercise your brain outside of psychometric testing
As well as doing psychometric test questions, when you are applying for graduate jobs, there are lots of other daily activities you can do to keep your brain alert and active so that you can perform well when it comes to the day of the tests.
  • Time yourself doing word and number puzzles.
  • Do cryptic crosswords as well as quick crosswords so that you are looking for answers in different ways.
  • Brush up on your GCSE maths - both numeracy skills and pulling information from graphs and charts. Depending on the field you have studied at university, your brain might be a bit rusty in these areas so it’s time to give it a bit of oil and get it functioning again.
  • If writing and literacy are not your strength because you've chosen a scientific or engineering path, for example, do some basic grammar practice and get those phonemes correct.
  • You will have a basic idea of what were your strengths and weaknesses at school - basic study books and fun online games and materials will wake up that side of your brain that you might not have exercised for a while.
Speak to graduates who have been through previous psychometric tests
Speaking to other graduates will give you an idea of what to expect when it comes to your own psychometric test exercises. This can be especially useful if they have applied for similar types of graduate jobs to you because the tests could be similar, too. Fellow students and graduates can also give you useful tips on what not to do as well as tips for success.

What Are The Different Types of Psychometric Tests?
So, we know that the psychometric test is there to give employers a broader picture of your capabilities and of your personality and it is much more accurate than if you were rhyming off a few well rehearsed answers in interview. Now let’s look at how the psychometric test is divided up and brought together to form that fuller picture:

Ability / Aptitude:
The first type of psychometric test we will look at is ‘Ability’ or ‘Aptitude.’

Some sections of these types of psychometric tests are the ones where there are right and wrong answers so, obviously, the aim is to get as many correct as you possibly can. The tests are timed so when you are doing practice psychometric tests, aim to get a balance between both accuracy and speed. Don’t worry if you don’t complete these tests as they are often designed to make completion almost impossible. The aim is just to answer as much as you can in the time provided.

Rather than a ‘pass mark’ for success on these psychometric tests, your results from these tests are compared to a demographic chosen by your employer. So they might be placed against results gained by the general public, people of the same education level as yourself, or they might be compared against the results of people who have taken the test, previously.

The Ability / Aptitude psychometric test includes:

Numerical reasoning tests

This is where your brushing up of your GCSE match will come in useful because these tests will assess how you interpret data and extract information from charts, graphs and statistics.

Depending on the type of graduate job you are applying for, there could also be a basic arithmetic test, too, and this is one of the sections where there are right and wrong answers.

Verbal reasoning tests and non-verbal reasoning tests

The verbal reasoning test will look at your comprehension skills and how you interpret a given piece of information.

The non-verbal reasoning test is another type of test which is timed and again, there are multiple choice questions with right and wrong answers. These tests look at how you spot patterns and sequences so they are likely to crop up if you are applying for graduate jobs in the fields of engineering or the sciences for example.

And remember, you haven't necessarily failed if you run out of the allotted time given to complete the test.

Logical reasoning tests

Logical reasoning tests might see you being presented with a passage of writing and you will be asked to proofread it to see if you can spot grammatical errors, omitted words and incorrect spellings.

Also, if technology and innovation is your field and you are hoping to land graduate jobs with a focus on this, then the type of psychometric test likely to crop up for you is a test designed around logical reasoning.

For this type of psychometric test the assessors will be analysing how you arrive at certain conclusions when given problems and challenges to work through. This conclusion might not necessarily be the same as everyone else’s conclusion, but if the employer is looking for innovative thinking for their graduate programmes, this could mean success for you. Assesses how you get to a conclusion when given basic information to work through. Given information or rules to apply to arrive at a conclusion.

Aptitude / Ability Tests summary

In psychometric testing, aptitude tests are designed to provide you with situations like you are going to come up against in your daily work life with that company. You might never have been faced with these tasks before and so the assessor will be looking at your ability to learn new skills related to the job you will be doing.

Ability and aptitude tests are often multiple choice in exam conditions. Some aptitude tests might be done on paper but these days, as you might expect, more and more are being done via computer programs.

Critical thinking and situational judgement tests:

This type of psychometric test is designed to assess your natural response to given situations. So, this is where you shouldn't be looking at your fellow candidates and seeing them as your competition. As much as possible, you need to be yourself.

This part of the test is sometimes done online before you get deeper into the official application process. From the information presented to you, as well as the company deciding whether you are a good fit for their graduate jobs, you can also decide whether the job is a good fit for you. The test might be designed as a fun game or quiz and shouldn’t be seen as a failure if you don’t succeed in the game.

Actually, what you need to do in these situations is see the fact that you couldn't do the quiz as a reality jolt - you've just saved yourself a lot of time by not pursuing a graduate job that wouldn’t have suited you in the long run. Likewise, the company offering the graduate programmes has saved time and money by not continuing with your application despite the fact that you might have all the relevant qualifications.

So, this type of psychometric testing is designed to measure your suitability for particular graduate jobs rather than your ability. There is no success or failure at this level. Just remember, you will get more from your role if you are finding it stimulating and rewarding so assessors can either see that you are very suited to a particular graduate job, not suited at all - or, they might even think you could be better placed in a different area of the company.

If you want to test this out before you apply for jobs then try a free situational judgement test (SJT) here.


Especially in the ‘Personality’ are of psychometric testing, there is nothing to gain by trying to compete with your fellow candidates. Again, this is an area where you really need to be yourself.

The ‘Personality’ psychometric test will be tailored the the graduate job you are applying for and will assesses your behaviour and preferred way of going about things in given situations. Employers will look for certain characteristics for particular jobs.

These tests are usually in the form of questionnaires and are not timed. Employers will get an idea of how you deal with other people in given situations and how motivated you are, for example; how you go about things in your own way. Whilst it might be tempting to try to second guess what type of answers the employers might be looking for, this is not a good tactic because you could be way off track. Answer the questions as honestly as you can - some questions might ask you to rate yourself in certain situations - and again, if you don’t get through, look upon it as a lucky escape rather than a failure.

Try a free personality test here.

Some Quick Psychometric Test Survival Tips
So, as a summary, let's go through some some quick psychometric test survival tips.

  • Try not to see psychometric testing as a thing of dread. It's helpful for you as well as your potential employer.
  • Answer all questions as straightforwardly and honestly as you can. If you don't get through, would you really want a job that doesn't suit you, anyway?
  • For the tests with right and wrong answers, do your preparation beforehand. There are psychometric tests online that you can practice with as well as those you can make use of at your careers centre.
  • If you are invited to an assessment centre and psychometric tests are part of the day, make sure you know exactly where the assessment centre is and how long it is going to take you to get there. So a dummy run if need be so you know if there are roadworks or one-way systems that might delay you.
  • Wear a watch! Don't rely on your phone for the time. Keep an eye on the time for the timed psychometric tests.
  • If you do finish a psychometric test early and there are right and wrong answers, check through your answers again to make sure you haven't made careless mistakes.
  • Read all instructions carefully so that you are completely sure about what the psychometric test is asking you to do.
  • And finally, if you are sent any literature or other information before you take part in the psychometric testing process, make sure you have read and absorbed it all in advance.
  • Good luck!

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