Aptitude Tests Guide - Free Example Questions

6 July 2020
10 minute

Companies are all competing for the best candidates, but finding the best talent can feel like one of the greatest challenges for a business. This is where aptitude testing can be a valuable addition to your recruitment process. Understanding the benefit these assessments can offer not only when hiring new recruits but also for internal promotion and succession planning can greatly improve the investment your company makes.

Through this expert guide from Thomas International, we will provide insight into why aptitude testing for employers is so sought after and how including them in your HR strategy will strengthen your business in the long term. Designed to provide an objective evaluation of a person, aptitude assessment can help you hire the right talent for your business. We’ve included several valuable resources to help you better understand what conducting aptitude tests involves, what they measure and how they are scored. We’ve also included a number of free aptitude test sample questions to illustrate what candidates may expect when taking these kinds of tests.

General Intelligence Assessment Report

What are aptitude tests?

Aptitude tests are a form of cognition based assessment designed to evaluate the ability of a person to succeed at a particular task. They involve an assessment of skill and ability without prior knowledge and can be undertaken across a number of formats including problem-solving, numerical, verbal and logical reasoning, and pattern recognition among others. They involve a series of multiple-choice questions with only a single correct answer and results are compared to a group average.

Aptitude tests have become increasingly popular throughout the recruitment process over the past decade as a method of limiting bias and finding the most suitable candidates for a role. Understanding a person’s abilities related to problem-solving, numeracy and comprehension can shed light on a person’s suitability for particular roles within an organisation based on their skillset. They have become used more widely throughout recruitment to improve the hiring process by finding the best fit for a role using objective measures in addition to the interview process. This provides a level playing field for candidates to be assessed fairly.

What are the different types of aptitude tests?

There are various types of assessments that fall under the umbrella of aptitude testing. They measure a variety of different abilities and skills that are relevant to a particular role or position. Different assessments are also more or less relevant depending on the role you are hiring for and the industry you operate within. Below we explore a range of aptitude tests that measure everything from cognitive ability and general intelligence to more specific skills and abilities, such as mechanical reasoning. 

Numerical reasoning tests

One of the core sections of psychological assessments, numerical reasoning evaluates a candidate’s numerical aptitude and strength. Tests measure performance with tasks based on number problems and assess basic capabilities as well as the ability to interpret and analyse data. They can vary between simple arithmetic such as addition and subtraction to interpreting numerical data such as graphs and tables.

Verbal reasoning tests

Another core component of general intelligence assessments involves verbal reasoning. Designed to assess comprehension and the ability to understand written passages, they commonly use questions that involve true, false or cannot say responses based on the interpretation of the written content. These tests can identify people who jump to conclusions or misinterpret information.

Diagrammatic reasoning tests

Yet another core section of aptitude testing involves diagrammatic reasoning which tests a candidate’s ability related to logical reasoning and problem-solving. They are sometimes referred to as abstract or inductive reasoning assessments and usually involve sequences, patterns and sometimes numbers. They help to assess the ability to recognise rules of a pattern or sequence and apply that knowledge to identify the appropriate answer.

Situational judgement tests

Unlike the aptitude assessments that are related to general intelligence, situational judgement tests are focused on assessing how you handle particular situations in the workplace. They usually provide a series of hypothetical scenarios where the candidate responds with how they would react in the situation. They help determine a person’s temperament and whether an individual’s values and behaviour align with your business.

E-tray or intray exercises

E-tray or intray exercises are used to understand how a person handles prioritisation of tasks, competing demands and information overload. These types of assessments are more common for junior or graduate positions where candidates may have very little workplace experience.

Inductive reasoning tests

Inductive reasoning tests fall within the same category as diagrammatic reasoning tests and assess problem-solving skills. They deal with the ability to process new information flexibility and find solutions.

Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability testing is a comprehensive term that covers several aspects of general intelligence assessment. Rather than simply focusing on one single ability, they provide a broad assessment of a person’s capabilities and may cover some or all of the following: numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, problem-solving skills and memory. Scoring on these tests may be conducted as an overall score across all sections or may analyse the results from each individual section to determine strengths or weaknesses in particular areas.

Mechanical reasoning tests

Mechanical reasoning tests are applied for candidates who require higher levels of technical ability. They apply a series of questions related to mechanical concepts to understand how well an applicant performs in a practical environment. Mechanical aptitude is assessed commonly in roles within engineering and science, emergency services and the army. Concepts covered within these assessments can include electrical circuits, pulleys, gravity, friction, acceleration and energy.

Watson Glaser tests

Commonly used with candidates within the legal sector, Watson Glaser tests are an aptitude test designed to assess critical thinking skills. Questions tend to involve arguments and propositions, the ability to draw conclusions with the information provided and how to recognise assumptions.

Abstract reasoning tests

Abstract reasoning tests are very similar to inductive reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests. They are developed to interpret a person’s problem-solving abilities and questions involve understanding sequences and pattern recognition.

Spatial awareness tests

Used to understand a candidate’s ability to consider 3D objects based on limited information. They can also relate to maps and directions, showing a person can understand the data provided and apply that knowledge. These skills are highly valued in some science-based roles as well as in architecture, design and surveying.

Error checking tests

Common among evaluating candidates for clerical, research and administrative roles, error checking tests assess a person’s ability to detect errors. They determine how well someone can identify mistakes within large amounts of written information and are highly reliable indicators of how a person will perform with those same tasks within their role.

How to carry out aptitude testing

Aptitude testing may involve a handwritten (paper and pencil) assessment or, more commonly now, be held online. Aptitude tests are designed to measure a number of factors and may be a general cognitive ability assessment that has a broad range of topics or subject-specific focused questions. They are all designed to create an objective way of assessing candidates by using the same criteria for all.

Aptitude tests can include some variation between subject-specific tests, but almost all questions use a multiple-choice format. The level of difficulty often increases from easy and straight-forward to more difficult and challenging as the candidate progresses through the test. While the format remains multiple-choice, the answers to each option will often include several answers that are wrong and some that are intentionally misleading to truly test the test taker’s abilities to interpret the data.

Aptitude tests are carried out with time limits either for the entire test or for each section. This supports measuring speed and accuracy. Tests commonly take around one hour and average approximately one question for 1-2 minutes. These can vary depending on the test provider and what the assessment is measuring such as numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical reasoning and spatial reasoning.

Thomas International can support your businesses when introducing aptitude tests into your recruitment process. Drawing on our expertise and experience, we have developed assessments designed to help businesses find their best fit when hiring.

Scoring and marking aptitude tests

There are a few elements that are applied when reviewing the results of aptitude tests. The first references the raw score which is the sum of all responses. The next consideration is the attempted figure which applies to how many questions the candidate tried to answer. The final reference for an individual score is the percentage accuracy which is how many questions were answered correctly against those actually attempted.

These scores are not particularly valuable in themselves. To be valuable to employers data needs to indicate how a person compares against others. This is where percentile scores are applied i.e. if a score is in the 72nd percentile then 72% of people who were tested scored lower.

The precision score may also be taken into account indicating the speed and accuracy with which you answered.

Free aptitude test sample questions

To help you better understand the style of questioning and measurement applied to the various sections and types of aptitude tests, we have included some free aptitude test questions below.

Numerical reasoning test question

National Surveyors Blog Image v2

Between which two months was there the smallest proportional increase or decrease in the mileage of Surveyor 1 in comparison to the previous month?

A) Months 1 and 2
B) Months 2 and 3
C) Months 3 and 4
D) Months 4 and 5
E) Cannot say

Verbal reasoning test question

If the first two statements above are true, is the third statement true?

A) Mr. Brown's rabbits are grey.
B) All grey creatures are kind.
C) Mr. Brown's rabbits are unkind.

Diagrammatic reasoning test question

Which set does the Figure belong to?

A) Set A
B) Set B
C) Neither set A nor set B

Diagramatic test question

Situational judgement test question

You manage a team of 10 people. Your employees are competent and cooperative. However, you noticed that lately they tend to take long coffee breaks and work rates seem slower. You are happy there is a good atmosphere in the office, but feel uncomfortable about the effect it is having on your employees' work.

What would be the best response?

A) Announce that from now on, any employee who wants to take a break should speak to you first.
B) Decide that at any given time only one employee can take a coffee break.
C) Discuss the situation with the team and ask for their cooperation.
D) Announce deadlines for each task the team gets, and reprimand employees who don’t finish their tasks on time.

Inductive reasoning test question

Look at the sequence of images. Then pick the image that goes with Z the same way that Y goes with X.

Induction Reasoning Blog Image v2

Mechanical reasoning test questions

Which fisherman has to pull his fishing rod harder in order to lift the caught fish?

Mechanicla Reasoning Test

A) 1
B) 2
C) Both have to apply equal force
D) There is not sufficient data

Abstract reasoning test question

Look at the two sets of shapes. Then determine whether a test shape belongs in Set A, Set B or neither.

abstract reasoning test image
The following test shape belongs to:
abstract example image

A) Set A
B) Set B
C) Neither

Spatial awareness test question

When put together properly, the top three puzzle pieces will create one of the following shapes (A-E).

Note that a side marked X has to touch X and a side marked Y has to touch Y. Choose the correct answer.

Spatial Awareness Question

Error checking test question

Which is the correct version of Landec Limited's status?

Error checking test question

Thomas aptitude assessment

At Thomas International, we empower businesses to recruit, retain and develop the right people for each role. Our selection of aptitude tests deliver psychologically proven results supported by more than 35 years of experience and expertise.

Incorporating our range of psychometric assessments, you can quickly determine whether someone will be the right fit for your business. Delivering objective and meaningful data, you can make informed decisions throughout the recruitment process to achieve higher results time and time again.

Thomas International is registered with the British Psychological Society and audited against technical criteria established by the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations.

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