Psychometric testing

During your working life, you are likely to encounter some form of psychometric or selection testing. These tests are often used by larger employers to help them select suitable candidates. They are formal assessments designed to measure your aptitude for particular types of task. The tests used will vary according to the abilities that are required for the job in question. They can also be used to assess your personality and motivation – getting the person with the right personal qualities is very important to most employers.

As well as helping employers select the best employees for the job, psychometric tests can help you:

  • make an informed career choice
  • identify obvious skills and abilities
  • identify hidden skills and abilities
  • highlight career options that you have not considered
  • provide an insight into your personality
  • provide an insight into aspects of work

Psychometric tests can give you an informed perspective on your strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to focus on new skills you need to acquire and other changes you need to make in order to further your career.

Types of test

Aptitude tests

Aptitude tests measure your ability for particular types of activity or ways of thinking. The results of aptitude tests can be used to check your score against others already working in a particular occupational area. The result is not about passing or failing but about identifying your strengths and weaknesses – and therefore your suitability for a particular job. Tests are usually in the form of multiple choice questions and will always be timed. If you are dyslexic or if English is not your first language you should inform the person organising the tests as soon as possible.

The main areas covered by these tests are:

  • manual dexterity and speed – accuracy and speed in performing manual tasks
  • mechanical ability – grasp of mechanical principles
  • clerical – capacity for clerical tasks such as sorting and filing
  • numerical – understanding and working with numbers
  • verbal – use, understanding of and reasoning with words
  • reasoning – applying logic to solve problems
  • abstract reasoning – solving logical problems of an abstract nature
  • diagrammatic – applying logic through the use of abstract diagrams and symbols
  • spatial awareness – measured through visualisation and manipulation of shapes


  • Take time to read through and fully understand instructions – ask if you are unclear about anything.
  • Work methodically.
  • Manage your time sensibly – work out how long you have got to answer each question.
  • Work quickly, but do not sacrifice accuracy for the sake of speed.
  • Do not spend too much time on a question you cannot answer or on checking – move on to the next.
  • Remember that questions may get harder further on in the test – do not spend too much time on the early questions.
  • Find out if marks are taken away for wrong answers – if so, avoid guessing if you do not know the answer.
  • Stay as calm as possible.