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Psychometric tests

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Many graduate recruiters use psychometric tests and recent surveys show that this is a growing trend across large and small employers.

Testing is not just confined to the industries you might expect, such as finance or banking, but are common across all sectors and career fields. Tests are coming earlier in the recruitment process, sometimes right at the start.

Darryl - Psyc tests
As with any stage of a job application, preparation is essential. The Careers website has lots of great advice and practice tests to work through. It’s worth booking an appointment with an adviser; lots of the psychometric tests I’ve passed were a direct result of these appointments.

Darryl Giffts-Walker, Environmental Science graduate

Read Darryl's blog post

Why do employers use them?

Employers often use psychometric tests to provide a measurable, objective assessment of a candidate's suitability for a job or training scheme. 

They are efficient at being able to deal with large numbers of applicants and are easy to administer. Many organisations use psychometric testing as a way of screening candidates to get to a further stage of the recruitment process.

How do they work?

In virtually all cases, tests are now computerised. They are mostly delivered in multiple choice formats and are timed. Your results are usually compared with how others have done in previous tests. 


FREE practice tests for Nottingham students and graduates

Through Graduates First you can access a wide-range of resources:

  • 15 ability tests (numerical, verbal, logical, abstract, diagrammatic spatial reasoning)
  • Case study, in-tray and presentation exercises
  • Video interview tool for 11 different sectors (eg banking, finance, HR, law, marketing, retail sectors)
  • 8 game-based assessments
  • 2 Situational Judgement Tests (SJT)

There are also a number of additional resources on the platform including:

  • Workstyle Personality Questionnaire (assesses an individual's preferences in the work place)
  • Watson Glaser test (primarily used in the law industry)
  • 7 IBM IPAT tests (used in the IT industry)
  • CAPP tests (used in a variety of industries and sectors)
  • 7 checking tests (where number checking, word checking, spelling and grammar checking are important to the role)
  • Question Identifier Tool (which identifies types of questions that may come up at interview)

For each test, you are presented with a progress monitor as well as access to expert feedback reports.

There is also a useful insight videos section which links to further information about how each organisation approaches its recruitment process and the kinds of assessments you may face. Over 100 videos are profiled on the site.

In addition, an example recruitment process by a top employer will offer you a strong sense of the experience you can expect.


Types of psychometric tests

As technology develops, there is a wide variety of psychometric tests, but most will fall into one of the following categories:

Ability tests

Sometimes also referred to as aptitude tests, these often include numerical, verbal and sometimes diagrammatical reasoning, spatial reasoning or error checking tests. These are the most widely used tests by employers.

Personality tests

These are often about determining personality style or preference. There are no right or wrong answers. They typically address behaviour and distinguish between personality traits and types. Personality tests are being used more at the stage of the recruitment process to see if you 'fit' with the organisation's culture, values and so on.

Motivational tests

These are about your values, drive, energy and engagement. They may be used by an organisation to provide an understanding of what drives and motivates a person to perform effectively in work.

Situational judgement and work-style preferences 

These are often about assessing judgement skills and competencies in relation to challenging workplace scenarios.Tests may often involve ranking options or selecting the best to worst or the most important to least important options (for example, A to D or 1 to 5)

Careers Blog: What are situational judgement tests and how can I prepare for them?


Mechanical reasoning tests

These types of test tend to measure your knowledge of mechanical and physical concepts such as gears, pulleys, levers and circuits. Some of the questions may require basic knowledge of maths, fractions, ratios, percentages and averages.

Games-based assessment

A candidates aptitude and/or personality traits are assessed whilst playing online games designed with the role and organisation in mind.

Used by employers as an alternative to standard psychometric tests, they are easy to access and do not require any experience in playing games.

Find out more on our gamification or games-based assessments page including examples

What if I have a disability or other issue?

You may have a physical, sensory, cognitive, speech impairment, dyslexia or a broken arm. 

The first thing to do is let the organisation know as soon as possible about your needs. Employers will almost always make reasonable adjustments and, in some instances, be able to provide an alternative type of test or assessment method.

We can adjust the time available to you for taking practice tests on Graduates First – contact your faculty Careers team for more information.

For more information visit our applying with a disability page


10 top tips for approaching psychometrics tests

  1. Practise different types of tests using freely available resources like Graduates First
  2. Try to find out the types of tests being used for the job or organisation you are applying to – many will openly publish this kind of information
  3. Practise your weakest tests more!
  4. Practise under timed conditions
  5. Ensure you have a good internet connection – since many tests are now administered online
  6. Read questions carefully before making a choice, looking at any detail, options and instructions. The ideal answer may not be there, so what might be the best action to take?
  7. Keep to time – if you get stuck on a question, move on and aim to go back to it if you have time at the end
  8. Only use the information provided – don’t assume information that isn’t described
  9. For scenario based questions, think about what you should do, not what you would do
  10. Be prepared. Aim to complete any tests in a comfortable environment and where you won’t be disturbed 

How to improve your results

  • Self-belief is known to have an effect on scores
  • Avoid stereotyping yourself (‘I’m no good at numbers’, ‘I’m not as good as…’ ‘I’ll never get into…’)
  • Talk to others about their experience of taking tests – share the challenges they have had

More practice tests for you


Careers and Employability Service

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