Psychometric tests: How to prepare (and pass)

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Psychometric tests can be a key part of an employer's graduate recruitment process - they can be tricky but they are not impossible. Here's how you can prepare to pass psychometric tests.

Psychometric tests for graduate jobs and graduate schemes can be a real pain for application hopefuls. Employers use these tests to learn more about your ability, motivations and competence. The tests tend to appear before the interview stage or during an assessment centre. Often there is no right or wrong answer but your approach to answering the questions helps the employer understand more about you.

Firstly let's take a look what exactly psychometric tests are, before we learn how to crack them.

Different types of graduate psychometric tests.

  • Numerical - Numerical tests, or numerical reasoning tests, can be tricky for graduates who haven't attempted maths since GCSEs. Typically, numerical reasoning tests will ask graduate applicants to review data and draw conclusions from the information, this could be in the form of a graph or table.
  • Verbal - Verbal reasoning tests, or verbal psychometrics, will often ask graduate candidates to review a text and be able to answer questions on it. Sounds simple, right? Well, obviously not, these texts can be dense and will vary in length while the answers you give will be scrutinised to learn more about your comprehension and ability to form an argument.
  • Situation - A situational test will often seem like the most precarious set of questions to answer. You will be placed in an imaginary situation, usually in the role you are applying for, and you will have to describe how you would deal with a series of "real life" events in your role. The answers will focus on how you prioritise, your organisation and ability to work under pressure.

Now, how do I pass graduate psychometric tests?

Unlike exams and tests in the past where you had a rough idea of the curriculum and what might come up, with psychometric tests you can go in blind.

We've got a range of interview reviews which might be able to tell you what other graduates experienced when they undertook tests at certain companies - but employers tend to vary these often so don't expect identical questions or formats.

Practice, practice, practice

The best way to prepare for psychometric tests is to practice before hand. Many employers give you the opportunity to get a feel for the sort of questions you will come up against. These practice tests won't be exactly the same but you'll get a feel for the format and especially the time pressure.

If the employer doesn't offer an option to practice beforehand, there are many free options available online for you to take practice tests. Each company will have a different format but half of the battle is managing your time.

Focused surroundings

You should treat psychometric tests like an exam and put yourself in an exam environment. The most important thing is a lack of distractions. Seal yourself off from the world for an hour to fully focus on the task at hand. Warn your housemates that you are about to sit these tests and turn your phone off.

Alongside this, ensure you've got some scrap-paper and a pen for notes, water to keep you hydrated and a proper computer set up, e.g. at a desk or table (not lounging on the sofa).

Test technique

By the time you come to sitting psychometric tests, you will have undertaken countless exams and you know there's a technique to being successful. Manage the time you spend on each question and mentally plan your approach for each section. It ensures you are not rushed and can take a methodical approach to each of the psychometric tests.

Unlike normal exams, you will not be able to jump around different questions to allot your time, but employers will give you plenty of explanation about how much you are expected to complete and in what time.

Graduate psychometric tests are just one of many processes different employers use to find their perfect candidate. Often they don't look for the brightest and brainiest, but let your natural intelligence shine through the tests and employers will likely progress you to the next stage