What do my numerical test results mean?
Your numerical reasoning test score is unlikely to be simply the number of questions you answered correctly. More often than not, your test results will be calculated on the basis of how your performance compares with other people who have taken the same numerical test before.
This comparison group (or norm group) will be made up of people whose background, educational level or job is broadly representative of candidates who are taking the test for the employer who has asked you to complete the assessment. Typically this group will comprise over 100 people whose performance on the test will range from excellent to poor.
This comparison enables businesses and recruiters to understand how strong their candidate’s numerical ability is in relation to other people.
Getting feedback on your test results
Only trained test-users should give you feedback on your results. This ensures that the feedback you receive will be based on expert knowledge of the test and what its results mean. While the numerical test score itself is generally the bit of information with which candidates are most preoccupied with, the broader feedback process has much greater potential for helping you improve on your test results in future.
Typically the results of a test will be framed in terms of how well a candidate has performed vs other people. It is unlikely that you will be given a numerical score or pass grade as you would in an educational test. Instead the recruiter will describe your result in terms of how close it is to the average score. Below are a few examples of how numerical reasoning test scores are fed back to candidates.
- ‘Your numerical ability is well above average compared to a group of managers who have taken the test before.’
- Your numerical test result lies within the bottom 20% of other graduates who applied for the same role.’
- ‘Your numerical ability lies within the average range for call centre workers; it is typical of other people working in call centre roles.’
The recruiter will not feed back the number of questions you answered correctly because this is not how results of modern-day psychometric tests are interpreted.
When it comes to online tests, where the scoring is conducted by a computer, the recruiter is unlikely to know how many questions you answered right or wrong. In these cases a candidate’s results will be presented in terms of the comparison to other test takers.
Tips when receiving test feedback
- Be honest
The person providing your feedback may prompt you to describe your reactions to the test and ask how you feel your results will look. It will help with the quality of the discussion if you are honest with yourself and the feedback provider about your experiences of the test and your prediction of your performance. Openly sharing your experience of the test will enable the feedback provider to shape the feedback and help you identify aspects of your performance that could be improved upon next time. This can be useful to candidates to help shape their approach to tests in future.
- Don’t be defensive
The test-user will feed back your results using the kind of language described above; how your performance compares to other candidates. This means they may use terms such as ‘below average’ or ‘bottom 20%’ to describe your results. Receiving feedback that uses words we can easily interpret as negative can be an emotional process and it’s important to not get defensive. Try to put any defensive reactions to one side and use this as an opportunity to receive open and honest feedback. Do not argue about the outcome! If your test result is a surprise then you should try and use the feedback discussion as a chance to identify where you may have gone wrong so that you can improve yourself in future.
- Ask follow-up questions
You can ask the feedback provider or recruiter to describe what your test score means in relation to the job. If the test was used for recruitment purposes then the recruiter should be able to tell you what elements of the role would be affected by your test results. If the test was used as part of a development process then you could ask about the implications of the results in terms of your future development.
- Ask for advice
Whoever is providing feedback should be able to provide you with some advice and pointers for improving your future performance in similar tests.