Selection tests

Student at desk

Employer selection tests typically consist of numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning tests. Situational judgement tests are increasing in popularity and are used as an initial screening method for the biggest graduate scheme employers.

Types of Selection Tests

The main types of psychometric assessment used in the selection process are identified below:

Verbal Reasoning Tests

Verbal reasoning tests are used to find out how well a candidate can identify logic within a passage of text. Candidates are typically provided with a passage, or several passages, of text based information and are required to evaluate whether or not a set of statements pertaining to the passage are:

True - The statement is true following the logic of the information or opinions contained in the passage,

False - The statement is false following the logic of the information or opinions contained in the passage or,

Cannot Say - You are not able to determine whether the statement is true or false without further information.

Numerical Reasoning Tests

Most numerical tests are very similar, usually following a multiple choice format where you have select an answer from a number of possible solutions.

The questions are based around the interpretation of data from table, graphs and charts, and then using basic arithmetical techniques (percentages; fractions; ratios; additions, subtractions etc) to arrive at the correct answer.

For both online and written tests, calculators are normally allowed and you are usually provided with scrap paper to do your rough working.

Diagrammatic Tests

These tests are designed to assess your logical reasoning ability. They usually comprise of around 30 multiple choice questions and are administered under exam conditions.

The questions typically involve a series of shapes or diagrammatic figures in a sequence or pattern. Your task is to analyse the sequence and determine which of the 'answer shapes or figures' would come next.

Situational Judgement Tests

Situational Judgement Tests usually consist of a series of work based scenarios relevant to the job position you have applied for. Scenarios may range from ethical dilemmas to difficulties with colleagues or clients. Employers use these tests to help determine if candidates possess the qualities required to be successful in the job role applied for. In each of the scenarios one or more of the competences from the original job description, and/or person specification, is likely to be tested.

Occupational Personality Questionnaires

These are not in fact tests as such but questionnaires designed to give the employer an inventory or profile of your values and the way in which you react in given situations. This could include how you relate to others, your values and motivations or your style of working. Employers use them to assess whether you have the right type of personality for the job and company.

They are usually untimed and there are no right or wrong answers. You can’t really prepare for them, just answer the questions honestly. They usually check you are being consistent by asking similar questions in different ways so don’t get caught out or try to guess what they are looking for. After all, it’s not in your interest to end up in a job that doesn’t suit you!

You will often get the chance to discuss the resulting personality profile with the employer and the outcome may be followed up in a subsequent interview.

Note: You may come across other specific tests depending on the types of job you are applying for, such as Computer Programming or Mechanical Engineering.

How to maximise your performance


  • Consult the practice tests below and use the reference books held in the Careers Advisory Service (SR 1.13) to familiarise yourself with what the tests involve. Ask about the practice test sessions we run.
  • Brush up on you arithmetic – percentages, ratios, square roots, etc. (you may not be allowed to use a calculator in the tests).
  • Do logic puzzlesand practice number based problems.
  • Get a good nights sleep – tiredness can adversely affect performance.
  • Do the online based tests when you feel at your most alert.
  • IMPORTANT: Let the employer know in advance if you have a disability which might make taking the test more difficult.

Doing the Tests

  • Read carefully any instructions given
  • Contact the comapny if you don’t understand what you’ve to do
  • Read each question carefully before answering
  • Work as quickly and accurately as you can.
  • You might want to skip those questions you find too difficult
  • Don’t double or triple check each answer. You can go back over them at the end if you have time
Practice Tests

Numerical, verbal & abstract reasoning

  • TargetJobs: Psychometric Tests – a useful overview and links to free practice tests
  • Graduate Benchmarkgives students free access to practise (and then take) the three most-used standard tests in the graduate recruitment process. Students can then compare their results against their peers in their uni, their year group, their discipline or even nationally
  • Prospects: Psychometric Tests – provides a range of aptitude tests and personality and career development assessment examples
  • Assessment Day Practice Aptitude Tests – includes numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, inductive reasoning, psychometric tests and assessment centres
  • SHL Direct – examples of verbal, numerical and diagrammatic tests plus practice tests and feedback from one of the largest UK test publishers
  • Cubiks: Practice Tests – take free five-minute verbal and numerical reasoning tests (answers given, no feedback). Click on Cubiks online – Ability tests to access them
  • Morrisby – contains advice and sample abstract, verbal, numerical, perceptual, shape and mechanical test questions
  • JobTestPrep –  good selection of free practice tests
  • Korn Ferry - Give yourself the best chance of success by trying one of our practice assessments to test your verbal, numerical, logical and checking abilities.
  • Kent University Careers Service: Verbal Tests – wide range of practice resources and links
  • PracticeAptitudeTests - test practice and resources platform which students can use for free
  • Psych Testing – information from the British Psychological Society on tests and test usage
  • TalentLens: Practice Tests – numerical reasoning and critical thinking tests
  • Mensa – not aptitude tests as such, but the pages might get you used to thinking quickly in test situations
  • Test Partnership - Candidate preparation section with access to free tests.
  • Numerical Reasoning Tests app – practice questions on your mobile

Case Study Exercises

Basic numeracy

Situational Judgement & Critical Thinking tests

Sector-specific tests

Equal opportunities

  • Psych Testing – contains a Guide to testing people with disabilities (use the search facility) with links to other organisations which can provide advice in this area

Key information