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Ability Test Advice

How to do well in a Cognitive Ability Test




Ability Test basics

In recruitment, ability tests (aka aptitude tests, cognitive ability test) give recruiters a standardised way of assessing a candidate’s performance in various work related tasks.

Ability tests give employers a good indication of a candidate’s ability to perform in a specific role and measure their potential to do the job, rather than just focusing on academic ability.

The results of an ability test are usually combined with other psychometric information such as personality questionnaire profiles or the results of situational judgement tests you may have taken.

Ability tests are a great way for recruiters to gain an insight into how well a candidate can process information whilst sticking to a time limit. When used alongside other psychometrics, they can provide employers with a well-rounded picture of how an individual may perform in the workplace.





The idea of taking an Ability Test can often seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here’s some of our top tips and tricks to help you put your best foot forward: 

  • Ability tests will usually be timed and typically take around 10 - 20 minutes (on average) to complete so managing your time is key.

  • Know when to move on if you're struggling to answer a question.

  • Ability tests usually only have one correct answer for each question.

  • Questions in an ability test are designed to measure your ability in a particular area.

  • Make sure you read each question twice so you don't miss any key information.

  • Questions often get tougher as the test goes on.

  • As ability tests are timed you will need to make sure you read the questions carefully (at least twice) and then answer as quickly as possible

  • You can improve your chances of doing well by trying a few practice questions before you sit the test for real. This will help you become more familiar with the format of the tests so you have a better idea of what to expect.

  • Get a good night's sleep before the day of the test.

  • Practice, practice, practice! Before doing the real thing, try to do as many practice tests as you can (lots of free practice tests can be found with a quick Google search) as this will help you both perform better and feel more confident going into it.


Ability Test advice



What does an Ability Test measure?

Ability tests help recruiters with measuring candidate ability in a particular area. These areas typically cover verbal ability, numerical ability, abstract ability and checking ability, a  measure of your attention to detail.

Numerical ability tests assess your ability to work with basic arithmetic, percentages, averages and ratios, while verbal ability test measure your ability to interpret written information.

Abstract, inductive or diagrammatic reasoning tests measure an individual’s general intellect and ability to work with new concepts or ideas. Abstract reasoning tests are non-verbal and adopt a multiple choice format under timed conditions. Abstract Reasoning Tests present candidates with a series of shapes or patterns and they must interpret these to predict what comes next or which diagram is the odd one out.


How do I prepare for an ability test?

The best way to improve your ability in something is to brush up on your knowledge and then take a few practice tests so you become familiar with the format, and the type of questions being asked.


Where can I take a practice ability test?

There are a number of free practice ability tests available online a short Google search away.


How much time will I have to complete my ability test?

Time limits for ability tests vary depending on the test type, level and number of questions.

The instructions for an ability test will clearly state the time limit for the test along with the total number of questions. Once you select the ‘Start test’ button, the test and timer will then begin.


What happens if I lose my internet connection during my ability test?

Whilst we recommend sitting ability tests on a device with secure and reliable internet, sometimes things go wrong anyway. Don’t worry though - if you experience technical issues during a test, you’ll be able to request a test reset that allows you to start the ability test again.


Will I be able to see the results of my ability test?

Different organisations have different methods to their recruitment process.

Therefore, if you would like more information about your ability test results, it’s a good idea to contact the organisation (and your recruiter if applicable) and ask for more information.

This can be a good habit to get into as it shows that you are keen on receiving feedback and interested in the role on offer.