Psstt… here are the answers to your exams

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Psstt… here are the answers to your exams

I am really sorry to have to be the person to break this to you. I honestly am. I have turned it over in my mind, lost sleep and had nightmares over the issue and I just have to tell you, otherwise I can't live with myself.

You're going to have to sit more exams.

Yes you might have thought you'd moved on from maths puzzles and comprehension exercises, but no. But now rather that needing to be good at these to get the qualifications to get a job, you need to actually do them to get a job.

I'm afraid these exams are yet another hoop for you to jump through in the uphill task of getting a graduate job. However, like a black market playground dealer, I'm here to give you the answers. Like the teacher who took a lax approach to exam security in search of that bonus, I am actively encouraging you to be as dastardly as possible in hope of getting over the line. Not only actively encouraging you, but helping you lift the veil to get through more exams.

The Lowdown

Exams, sometimes called Tests, Psychometric Tests, Verbal and Numerical Tests or variations there on for what's in vogue at the time in Recruitment Today. The setup is usually one of two scenarios, the first is that you will sit these tests at home in the comfort of your pyjamas and novelty mug. With the beauty of the internet, graduates do not even have to get up to take a step closer to employment.

The other scenario, and far more gruelling is an Assessment day. This is a full day of prodding, poking, examining and testing of you by your prospective employer. Here you will undertake a myriad of tests and tortures to see if you fit the bill and can be proceeded in the process.

A lot more daunting and a lot more stressful, meaning that you will be up against it and what's worse, you won't be doing it on your own. One of our fantastic Guest Bloggers, Sian Gardiner, has accurately and insightfully compared them to the Hunger Games, only with more blood and malice.

However these exams come about, you will have to be ready and winging it is the worst approach you can take. Similarly to exams of olde, while there is a broad curriculum to choose from, graduates can tailor their "revision" or approach to put themselves in the best position.

Assessment Centres or tests are not dished out from the off. Companies pay through the nose to access the software and materials to put graduates like you through the wringer on this one, so expect the tests to come about when the going gets tough. The tests allow a purely meritocratic approach to applications so if you're about to undertake them it is important you give it a good go.

The tests and assessment day melees traditionally cover three main areas, testing a range of capabilities and skills. But be warned, graduates could also face other testing areas enabled by technology. As m'colleague Ross Whistler has pointed out, technology is rapidly changing the ways in which graduates are processed and scouted for positions. However, many Luddite employers are slow to adopt these advancements.

The Number Crunchers

A staple of pre-employment of exams, Numerical Reasoning tests are one that graduates can nearly always expect to undertake. The numerical reasoning tests are, by a rule of thumb and by no means the word of law, harder that GCSE level maths but not as difficult as A Level maths. They will take work and without being John Nash or Alan Turing, you're not going to be able to breeze past them.

While the format of a Numerical Reasoning test may vary from issuer to organisation, it will send you back to GCSE scenario, to the dread of everybody who dropped Maths like hot shit as soon as they could. Expect the typical question and answer papers, pencils, pens, workings out, scrap paper and perhaps a calculator, and the fear filling statement of "You have 30 minutes, you may begin."

The tests, an excellent test run is provided by the University of Kent, will cover things like percentages, amounts, multiplications of data with added scenario value and much more. The good thing about Numerical Reasoning tests is that they are usually practical and real situations that require maths, not long division or the other hours wasted at school.

For example, the scenario might involve a group of friends setting up a sweet shop and require you to work out things like overheads, stock costs and forecast earnings based on small sample. The exam contents are not revolutionary but not are they work.

Unfortunately the only secret that I can let you in on is, especially for these, is that you need to practice, practice, practice. In my true commitment of thorough research, I have attempted some of the Numerical Reasoning tests available online and they are hard, so very hard.

A Verbal Warning

Verbal Reasoning tests are poorly named. They test less your ability to read and communicate, more your ability to think laterally. And here's the thing, I'll make no bones about it, they are also solid. As an English graduate I thought they'd be a doddle, a walk in the proverbial park with a piece of cake, but obviously not.

The trick to these types of tests without the obvious (How do you get to Carnegie Hall?), is not to tangle yourselves in knots, keep a clear head and be logical with your answers. The questions often try their upmost to lead you both down the garden path and astray. But a calm, cool and logical head will help focus you on what is being asked, not what is there.

Again, the University of Kent is outstanding with its resources for graduates on this matter. Giving more detail and advice that I would dare as well as a selection of example tests. But like the Numerical Tests, a quick google and you'll find enough practice tests to make you question your own existence.

Perhaps this is the key thing about the Verbal tests. Perhaps the point of the Verbal Reasoning tests to be so existential that you begin to question what's real and what the point of life is, because there is no other excuse for them to be so dastardly in their querying of a short paragraph.

They try everything, from the inclusion of statistics to oblique word choices to initial contradictions until you dig deeper. All of this forces you to really focus your attention on multiple things and can lead to a slippery slope into your own personal crises of existence.

Some of this may be hyperbolic, but the importance of preparation for these exams and tests cannot be understated. You need to be ready and the only way to do that is to really familiarise yourself with what's going to come up. The questions vary slightly and the numbers and scenarios change, but you can see the repetition and purpose of most questions after you've tried a fair few.

By James Howell