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Ability tests and how to pass them

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Published: 7 January 2021

Person taking a test

A common exam employers give potential employees these days is the ability or aptitude test – a way of looking at how a candidate would react in given situations.

It’s used to measure your ability to perform the role and can be tricky to prepare for because you can’t revise for them.

They test your natural ability far more than what you’re learning. But there are ways to prepare for them to give yourself a better chance at passing.

1) Practice makes perfect

The absolute best thing you can do to get ready for an ability test is to practice.

Take as many online aptitude tests as you can in the lead up to the real thing and do them under exam conditions.

It’ll help you get used to the test, the kinds of questions you’ll be asked and the time restrictions.

Assessment Day has loads of practice tests to have a go at.

2) Know what you’re getting into

Find out what kind of ability test you will be taking before you sit it to avoid any surprises.

There are many different options, ranging from simple numerical tests and verbal reasoning to logic and critical thinking.

Each will have its own style of questions so make sure you study hard and know what to expect.

3) Work out where you need to improve

The point of practice tests is to know the areas that you’re not as strong in. Those are the ones you should be focusing your time and attention on.

Everyone has at least one area they find more challenging than others. Identifying your weaker spots is the best way of developing your skills.

4) Avoid distractions

The very last thing you want in the middle of a test is to feel hungry or need to go to the toilet.

Although you might see these as less important than the test itself, you’ll want as few things distracting you as possible.

Low blood sugar in particular can have a serious effect on your concentration, so make sure you eat something to give yourself an energy boost.

5) Avoid distractions

You’re likely to not be the only candidate at an on-site ability test.

It’s very easy to lose focus, watching what the other potential employees are doing, especially if you’re worrying they’re further ahead than you.

Work hard at ignoring that and focus instead entirely on what you’re doing – that’s the only way to make sure you do your best.

6) Move on

Getting stuck on a question in the moment is not the end of the world. A lot of time can be wasted trying to work out the answer to a question and worrying you don’t know what to write.

If that happens to you, simply move on to the next point. It’s rare for anyone to answer every single question and often you’ll be able to go back over your answers.

The extra time may be what you need to have worked out the questions you have gotten stuck on.

7) Read everything

You’ve probably heard this before, but reading the questions carefully is one of the most important things you can do.

It’s easy to panic and assume you understand what you’re being asked in the rush of the exam situation.

But that can lead to mistakes you don’t need to make.

Some ability tests also ask you to give more than one answer, so you’d be losing unnecessary points by misreading and making assumptions.

8) Feedback is amazing

Just like in your assignments, getting information about how you did and what you can do to improve is the best way of succeeding.

Even if you didn’t pass the aptitude test this time, you’re likely to be taking more in the future so finding out what you need to work on is key.

Applying for a job straight after university can be intimidating, but with practice and preparation your abilities will shine through.

Learn more about jobs skills on the Digital Literacy Skills section of the Library website.

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