Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests

Employers are using psychometric tests more frequently to assess candidates’ abilities and aptitudes in certain areas. The results are presented in a standardised way, which helps employers make accurate and objective comparisons between you and other candidates.

What are tests looking for?

Tests vary from one company to another and will usually be carefully constructed to test skills that are relevant to a particular job or working environment. They might assess one or more of the following:

  • numeracy
  • verbal reasoning
  • spatial or diagrammatic reasoning
  • logic
  • literacy

Many tests will include a selection of maths, English language and logic exercises to test your ability to work quickly and accurately.

How do they work?

Tests can be computer or paper based. You might sit them individually or in a group. You might also work one to one with a trained administrator.

There is usually no pass or fail mark as such, but selectors will have in mind a norm for the type of candidate (e.g. student or graduate) or job. Your mark will be assessed in relation to this norm.

  • Read or listen to instructions and questions carefully.
  • Keep an eye on the time, allowing for questions to get harder as the test progresses.
  • Use a simple and reliable calculator, if allowed.
  • Answer as many as possible without scarifying accuracy
  • Try eliminating wrong answers if you are having difficulty finding the right one.
  • Don’t spend too long on any one question. If you’re stuck, move on and return to the question later if you have time.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t answer all the questions.

Practicing for psychometric tests and assessment centres

Many students report that they find psychometric tests difficult and express concern about under-performance. It is widely believed that practice of this type of test improves general performance and this can go along way to boosting confidence levels. With this in mind, current students and graduates (up to 2 years after graduation) can now use  great resource to practice – go to Graduates First and click on the Register link at the top right-hand side of the page, then:

  • Students – register using your Cardiff University email address.
  • Graduates – you can use the resources for up to 2 years after graduation. If you haven’t already done so, please re-register with us as a graduate here and then email us at to say you want to use Graduates First. We will set you up manually as you no longer have a Cardiff email address.

The tests reflect the level of difficulty you are likely to encounter when applying for graduate or professional opportunities but the tests you take in the ‘real world’ are likely to be longer.  The tests available are:

  • Numerical reasoning (NRT)
  • Verbal reasoning (VRT)
  • Logical reasoning (LRT)
  • Work personality questionnaire (WPQ)
  • Question identifier tool (QIT) This identifies (based on your personality) the kind of questions that you might be asked at interview

Once you have completed each test, you will receive detailed feedback on your performance and can also download Q&A giving worked solutions to each question.

The tests are timed, for example the first numerical test gives you 15 minutes to work through 20 questions, so give yourself enough time without any interruptions. You can use a calculator/pen and paper so make sure that you have these ready before you start the tests.

You can also view useful video tutorials:

  • Prepare for your Competency Based Interview
  • How to increase your test scores
  • How to pass Numerical Reasoning Tests
  • What is a Situational Judgement Test
  • Passing SHL CEB’s OPQ
  • Occupational Personality Assessments
  • What pass marks do employers use on tests
  • How to pass Verbal Reasoning Tests
  • How to pass Logical Reasoning Tests
  • Percentages/Ratios/Currency Conversion

Other Practice Resources

Most of the following have free examples:

If you find you need to work on some of the basics (maths, for instance) – the Careers & Employability Centre has a range of test books to start you off (most available for loan to students).