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Improving your Score

One of the questions we get asked a lot at Careers and Placements is: How do I improve my score at psychometric tests?

 

What are psychometric tests?

There are a number of different kinds of tests used by employers as part of the recruitment process. The most popular tend to be verbal and numerical reasoning tests. These are typically used in an early stage of recruitment for graduate training schemes.

It is important to practice these tests prior to the recruitment process to ensure you are familiar with the layout and style of question you will be asked. Not only will these make you better prepared but it should help increase your speed when it comes to the actual test.

 

Man with numbers image

 

Tests are typically marked on both speed and accuracy. For instance a test that has 100 questions; if a candidate attempted 70 questions of which they got 65 correct they will be given 2 marks. The first 65 correct answers out of a possible 100, the second looks at accuracy 65 out of 70 attempted so the accuracy score here would be high. One mistake many candidates make is running out of time and ticking any box just to answer more questions which will impact on the accuracy mark. It is important to have a balance of both speed and accuracy. Also remember that these tests are made to be deliberately challenging and it is not unusual to not complete all of the questions in the time allocated.

How can you improve your score?

Firstly you need to establish your accuracy level. There is no point increasing speed if you have some of your skills missing. Find a paper based test that you can take, there are some available through the jobs and careers pages of StudyNet or you can buy books on Amazon that contain lots of paper based questions. Although it is more common to take tests in an online format this is a good starting point – the questions and skills being tested remain the same but you can remove the time pressure. If you take 2 hours to answer all of the questions on a test that you should only have 30 minutes to complete but you get them all right you know that is now your speed you need to work on. If you spend this much time but still have errors you need to address these skills areas before moving on. With a paper based test as you can mark them yourself you will be able to see which questions you have not been correct on – something not possible in the electronic versions. Although this is a little longer a process it really enables you to address any skill gaps especially with numerical reasoning tests. If you identify a skill gap websites such as GCSE Bitesize can be a really useful tool as a reminder for how to approach certain calculations.

Once you are sure you are getting questions right…

It is time to move on to practising as many online tests as possible to increase your speed. Be careful as a lot of tests online aren’t at the level of difficulty that you may expect from a graduate employer. We give access to Kenexa tests through the Jobs and Careers pages of StudyNet. These are frequently updated to ensure a similar standard to those used by employers. You should also look at the practice tests offered by SHL as this is a preferred test administrator for many graduate roles. A list of practice tests online is accessible through CareerHub.

Once you have addressed both you speed and accuracy you should see an improvement in your scores. Remember you are being assessed against a graduate population so ideally you want to be scoring in the top 30% of graduates. This means that the test will have previously been administered to a large group of graduates, the averages of their scores will have been taken and you need to score on a par with the top 30% of those graduates. If you are finding a test difficult it is likely that the other graduates have too, so don’t give up and keep trying to work through the test quickly but accurately.

It is also worth remembering that not every role asks for tests to be taken, not even every graduate scheme, so do some research on different companies as there are a lot of opportunities and not all ask for psychometric tests.

 

Helen Meyer photograph

Helen Meyer is a Careers Advisor in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

 

photo credit: rbbaird

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