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Psychometric tests can come in many forms, depending on the skills required in the job. For example, more specialised aptitude tests are often required for senior management, military, police, medical, IT, engineering and science careers. However, the most common forms are numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning tests. These are typically presented in a multiple-choice format, with definite right and wrong answers, and they are usually timed.

There are Different Test Time Limits

There are generally three time limit categories however the important thing to remember is that even when there is a time limit, it will be the same for everybody.

Strict Time Limits
Some tests have very strict time limits, to ensure that people cannot complete all the questions in the test in the time available. These tests are designed to see how fast you can work. Usually the questions are not very difficult, but you have to work fast to do well.

Relaxed Time Limits
Other types of maximum performance tests have more relaxed time limits, or may have no time limit at all. For these tests the questions may be quite difficult, or sometimes start off easy and get progressively more difficult as you work through the test. In these tests the emphasis is on how many questions you can get right, rather than on how quickly you work.

Speed and Accuracy
In most cases, tests fall somewhere in between these two extremes. There will be a time limit, but this will be set to allow most people sufficient time to get to the end of the test. To be successful, you need to work through the test as quickly and as accurately as possible.

There are Different Test Modes

Online | Computer | Pen and Paper Tests
Although it is increasingly common for psychometric tests to be administered online, they can be administered through pen and paper or a computer at a recruitment centre or an employer's premises. These are called test modes and where possible you should practise in the mode that will be used by the employer or recruiter. (Although any practise is better than none)

If you are required to complete an unsupervised online test early on in the recruitment process, and you make it through the pre-selection stage, be prepared to repeat a supervised test. This step filters out any candidates who may have cheated on the first test. (Surely not!)

What do the Results Mean?

While there is a total score for the number of correct answers the results of ability tests are expressed in terms of percentiles, e.g. you have scored at the 65%ile. What this means is that compared to a representative sample who have completed the test in the past, you have scored in the top 35%, or conversely, you have done better than 65% of the population.

Many components in psychometric tests are based on acquired knowledge and skills therefore, those who received a better education are more likely to do well in the test. Also recent graduates are likely to perform better than people who completed their education a few years ago. However, all of them are likely to find a psychometric test much more difficult than those who recently experienced psychometric testing, as neither university nor schools prepare students for psychometric tests.

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