What are aptitude tests?

Aptitude tests are among the most common tests used by employers to measure candidates’ abilities in relation to the job on offer. They are taken under exam conditions, often at the offices of the employer or recruitment agency but increasingly online at a time and location of the candidate’s convenience. They’re strictly timed and usually last between 30 minutes and an hour.

Aptitude tests are designed to measure a candidate’s speed and accuracy in processing verbal, numerical or logical information. They are not tests of general knowledge, specific professional skills or knowledge of the organisation or industry, but of logical reasoning and ability to think quickly under pressure.

Each question in the test usually consists of a paragraph of text, figures or a graph on a certain subject with multiple-choice answers. The questions often become more difficult the further you go through the test, and there are often more than you can comfortably complete in the allocated time. It is the number of correct answers which counts, so both speed and accuracy are crucial.

The three main categories are tests for verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and diagrammatic or spatial reasoning. The type of tests set should reflect the abilities needed in the post, and your score will be compared with the results of a past group of examinees, and either other applicants, current job-holders or some other group.

Besides their usefulness to employers, aptitude tests can have a positive effect for the jobseeker by providing a yardstick of strengths and weaknesses, which can help them shape their career plans or focus on improving their performance in problem areas.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.