What to Expect from Aptitude and Ability Tests

What to Expect from Aptitude and Ability Tests

Some employers ask prospective employees to take an aptitude test.

These aptitude and ability tests are specifically designed to test an individual’s ability to think and display their logical reasoning.

They typically consist of some multiple choice questions and the individual will answer them under standard exam conditions. Something like 30 questions in 30 minutes is common.

The results will then be compared to that of other in a controlled group. Enabling the examiner to make a judgement on your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

There are a lot of tests and resources available online now. Whether you are taking the actual test, or doing some practice questions. The main advantage being that you can get immediate results.

Some are still carried out with paper and pen too. Then presents its own extra challenge if you don’t write often. But either way is fine, the questions will be the same.

Aptitude tests are often also called speed tests, or power tests. Speed tests are sometimes slightly different, with emphasis on the individual’s ability to answer a lot of questions correctly.

Speed tests are more commonly used in industries that require the employee to think or act quickly with a high degree of accuracy. Like data entry, clerical, and administrative work.

Power tests are designed to test a different skill set. They have a smaller number of questions that are more complex to answer. Power tests are used more for testing applicants for managerial and higher skilled roles.

There are a wealth of aptitude and ability tests available online. So if you know, or think you have a test coming up you can practice.

Some tests are limited to one type of question. Like verbal ability, reasoning, problem solving, or numeric ability for example. While other tests cover all types of questions.

What to Expect from Aptitude and Ability Tests

Verbal Ability

These will have questions that cover spelling, grammar, interpretation, and a person’s ability to understand and follow written instructions.

You will typically always have some verbal ability questions in general aptitude tests. Having a clear and good understanding of written communication is key to most job roles.

Numeric Ability

Micro topics covered in these tests include all kinds of math calculations, working out numeric sequences, and troubleshooting.

There will often be some graphs and statistics presented in management level tests. General tests cover some of these areas due to the importance of numerical literacy.

Abstract Reasoning

These questions are designed to measure a candidate’s ability to recognize and reason with logical processes. This means finding the most logical and economical solution.

Abstract reasoning is widely believed to be the best measure of a person’s ability to learn and retain new information. Making it a staple in all general aptitude tests.

Spatial Ability

With spatial ability, the questions are designed to test a person’s ability to manipulate shapes. This means looking at 3D and 2D objects, and making note of differences.

These questions do not usually appear in general tests unless specifically required for the job role.

Mechanical Reasoning

Questions designed to test a person’s knowledge of mechanical and physical processes. Often seen in tests for entry into the military, police force, fire services, and specific mechanical positions.

Fault Diagnosis

These questions are designed to test a person’s ability to find, solve, and repair faults in mechanical and electronic systems.

As modern processes rely on mechanical and electrical systems more than ever before. These tests are becoming more utilized, and some questions may appear in general tests.

Data Checking

Speed and accuracy of data inputting and checking is vital to some companies. The difference between an employee delivering 40 words per minute and 70 words per minute can be thousands of dollars.

These questions will always come up when measuring someone’s aptitude and intelligence for a clerical and administrative job.

Work Sample

These questions are tailored towards carrying out samples of the work that would be required in the job role. This is a good way of measuring a person’s ability to complete the work.

These tests will have to be prepared and will not appear as part of general tests. They will generally include using a software package, holding a presentation, or some word processing tasks.

Preparation Is the Key

A candidate for a job will often be given some time to prepare for an aptitude and skills test. This time should be used wisely, scoring highly on the test will give you a much better chance of being accepted.

Here are some things you can do before sitting an aptitude test:

  • Try and find out what kind of questions/test you will be sitting.
  • Work through some sample questions online.
  • Brush up on the skills necessary for the position.
  • Practice staying calm and collected.

If you are given time to study up before hand, use it. Give yourself every opportunity to do as well as you possibly can in the test.

It’s not just a case of common sense. Some of these questions require a sharp and fresh mind. Being used to problem solving or data entry will help you on the day.


If you have an upcoming aptitude test, remember not to over think it. Stay calm, and do you’re best.

The results are not necessarily a reflection on your abilities or intelligence. Too many people take exams to heart, it’s not the intended result.

Aptitude tests are a great way to gauge a persons skill set, ability to think on their feet, problem solve, and to get an idea of their suitability for a job role.

But it’s not an exact science.

Good luck!

1 thought on “What to Expect from Aptitude and Ability Tests”

  1. Shammy Peterson

    It caught my attention when you said that aptitude tests are designed to test the way an individual thinks. As you said, this allows an examiner to make a judgment on your abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. I would imagine how the hiring process can benefit from this type of test since they can easily narrow down qualified candidates. This would allow them if an applicant’s skills match what the position requires in the job.

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