The key to passing numerical reasoning tests is to understand the format of the tests and why employers use them in their recruitment process. By practising as many numerical reasoning tests, and indeed other aptitude tests, as possible before your interview, you will improve your speed, accuracy and confidence.
Understanding numerical reasoning tests
Numerical reasoning tests show your ability to deal with numbers quickly and accurately. Questions are normally based on business scenarios and might include ratios, percentages, number sequences, graphs or currency conversions. Employers can use the tests to quantify your numerical skills. The tests are tricky especially because of the time limit, answering one question per minute means you will need to work swiftly but accurately.
What is the format of the test?
The test will be taken under exam conditions and questions are likely to be multiple choice. There will be a definite answer to the questions, unlike other aptitude tests such as verbal reasoning. Because of the time pressure, many candidates find these tests challenging, even if you have studied a mathematical subject at university or school, which is why it is important to practice as many tests as possible. The tests will be looking to check your ability on a range of mathematical concepts such as fractions, ratios and estimations.
Questions will require you to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division as well as percentages to find the correct answer. They may also include graphs and tables which you will need to interpret.
How can I prepare?
The best way to prepare for numerical reasoning tests is to practice as many tests as possible. Make sure you practice in exam-like conditions, using a stopwatch to time yourself, giving yourself one minute per question. If you are finding one question difficult, don't dwell on it - move onto the next! Ask your employer what format they provide the test in and then you can practice in the same way. For example, are you allowed to use a calculator? It is important to review your answers straight after the test and make sure you focus on any areas you are struggling with. Most tests don't use negative marking but it is worth checking the instructions before you begin.
Why do employers use these tests?
Employers use these tests to see your ability to use basic math formulas and how you analyse data under pressure. They can use these tests to measure your potential work performance. Unsurprisingly these tests are mostly used in roles where data analysis will be important in your day to day work. For example, investment banking, management consulting, tax, data or management roles. It is useful for employers to see how comfortable you are with numbers and they can use these tests as a screening process before deciding who to invite to interview or as part of the wider selection process.