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How to ace your psychometric test

James Davis

Many employers are using these to test candidates, so what do they involve and how can you improve your chances of success?

Psychometric tests are highly varied exercises in reasoning, mathematics, emotional intelligence, identifying personality traits and aptitude for various tasks. They’re used in testing candidates from industries around the world, from banking and finance to military service. They help recruiters make unbiased decisions based on each employer’s goals and aspirations for their employees. This helps them be reliable indicators of performance. Given the trust organisations put in them, it makes sense you’d want to blaze through them! It’s an ideal way to make an impression and help secure the best jobs. So, here’s some advice to help you prepare for and take a psychometric test. You can apply this to just about any field.

Be as honest as possible

Some tests contain questions designed to discover more about the applicant’s character in unique ways. For instance, you may be asked if you’ve ever told a white lie before. The most ironic way to botch this one is to lie about it! Everybody has done this before, so why not own up to it? You don’t even have to make an excuse. In fact, nothing says more about a strong character than someone who simply goes, “you know what? I have. I’m not proud of it, even though I felt it was necessary at the time.” No ‘buts’. Just let them have it. If you feel like it’s appropriate, you can add something else and tell them something along the lines of, “I make every effort to be honest,” but even that’s not entirely necessary. The trick with these sorts of questions is there isn’t one. Honesty is the best policy.

Use all the time you’ve got

Especially on the aptitude portions. The trick is flicking through the whole test (if you’re given the chance) and identifying the trickiest questions first. You don’t want to be left stuck on the most difficult problems with hardly any time remaining after all. If it’s necessary to work backwards, do so.

It also pays to use every second of time you’re given. If you finish early, great. That’s time to check your work, re-check your work and then check your checking! Plenty of students figure once they’ve done the test, they’re finished. This is silly; you’re given the amount of time you get for a reason. That reason is to make absolutely sure everything’s OK. Even if you feel certain what you’ve written is totally fine, it shows diligence and respect for the test to sit there for its completion. If not for the results, do it for the optics.

Don’t get bogged down

If you’re in a test that doesn’t allow you to skip ahead, or skip questions to begin with, you’ve really got to take a stoic approach. Many students panic when they see something they don’t know, but not knowing isn’t a crime. If you don’t know the method for working it out, just be content with your current abilities and formulate an answer. Doesn’t matter if it’s correct, as silly as that sounds. After all, what’s the point of stressing over a question you simply have no reliable method of answering? This really is just a mindset thing. All we can do is the best with what we’ve got.

Take advantage of every break

Some testers will give you optional breaks between segments of the test. It’s possible to do it all in one sitting, but take it from us: don’t! Breaks allow you to refocus, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Extended periods of concentration can be harmful. While some recommend a five minute break every 30 minutes (Pomodoro technique), others insist on a 17 minute break every 52. You likely aren’t going to get a hefty 17 minute break, so break it up as and when possible. Your brain gasping for air will thank us later!

Be consistent

Some of these tests are sneaky, and will ask near-identical questions. This ties in well with the honesty thing; if you’re asked an almost identical question and give completely different answers, that’s an indication you’re illogical, hiding something or any number of negative reads. Sadistic! Even when being perfectly honest, it pays to remember how you answered previous questions.

Prepare!

You’d think this is one of those tests you don’t need to prepare for. Think again! Psychometric tests are as much about how you answer as what you actually say. Simply look for some generic test questions online, grab a begrudging friend as they saunter out of their next lecture and ask them to help you out. As they’re your friend, it’ll be tough to remain serious, but that’s even better practice. You want to get better at being serious while also calm in situations where you’d otherwise feel nervous, giggly or some combination thereof. As you answer questions, speak with an authoritative but conversational manner. If you want to go the extra mile and practice thinking on your feet, this is how you do it.

You should now have a much better idea of how to prepare for your psychometric test. Wherever you’re taking one, we wish you all the best. Stay calm, cool and collected, and you’ll be OK.