The golden rules of psychometric
Psychometric tests, which are designed to measure an individual’s aptitude for numerical and verbal reasoning, have become widely popular with employers (including the Civil Service) as a method to select candidates from thousands of applications. Usually, you will be allowed to take the test in the comfort of your own home, and at whatever time you prefer.
However, it is essential to treat these tests as you would an academic exam, as this stage has often proves to be the stumbing block. It would therefore be advisable to bear the following tips in mind:
1) Preparation is the key. This may seem obvious, but employers will expect you to know the format of the tests and to have done a few practice questions yourself. Test-runs are widely available on the internet – www.wikijob.co.uk is an excellent resource.
2) Before starting the test, make sure that you have the necessary equipment: a calculator that you are familiar with, a lot of scrap paper for rough work, and a glass of water. Create your own exam conditions by turning off your mobile and tell your housemates that you do not want to be disturbed.
3) At the start of each test, look at how many questions there are and figure out how much time to spend on each, to make sure you don’t run out of time (the test window will automatically close when the time limit is reached).
4) As the numerical test will involve working out percentages from charts or graphs, it might be helpful to know how to use the memory functions on your calculator. This is not absolutely necessary, but it will help you save time during the test.
5) Aim for accuracy, not speed. For the verbal reasoning test, you will be required to read a short passage, and answer 3-4 questions on it. Don’t rush and make sure you fully comprehend the meaning of the passage.
6) For the numerical test, do not panic if you are unable to finish all the questions in time. From my personal experience, I only completed three quarters of the questions, but was still invited to the next stage of the application process.
7) Don’t be sneaky and ask your friends to help you, or unplug the broadband connection in the middle of the test so you can request to do it again (as some applicants have done in the past!). Employers have their advanced methods of finding out whether you have cheated or not, so don’t put your integrity at risk.
You should expect to hear of the result within 2-3 working days. If you have been unsuccessful, don’t feel overly discouraged: treat this as a learning experience. If you pass the test and are invited to the next round, well done – and start preparing for that assessment centre!