Cognitive assessments have right and wrong answers and are given under controlled exam-like conditions with strict time limits. The various facets of ability that are assessed by modern ability and aptitude tests may include verbal, numerical, diagrammatic, mechanical, and spatial reasoning.
Here are some tips:
- Use the internet sites for practice. Three websites run by major test publishers offer advice to candidates and example questions. These are: shlgroup.com, ase-solutions.co.uk and psychometric-success.com;
- There are a number of paperbacks available from good book sellers (particularly the Kogan Page series) which provide further practice questions;
- Reach the test location in good time, well rested and in a positive frame of mind;
- When the test instructions are read out to you make sure that you clearly understand them. Ask as many questions as you need to;
- The test will have some practice questions at the start. Make sure you understand these thoroughly before the test itself begins;
- Put your watch in front of you, jot down the finish time, and work with 'quiet urgency'. Keep aware of the time as you work through the questions. You will not be given a five minute warning by the test administrator before the end of the test;
- If you get stuck on a question, don't spend too long on it, but move on to the next one. However, don't abandon a question prematurely, if with a few extra seconds you might have solved it. You have to get the balance right and achieve a rhythm where you don't get bogged down. On the other hand don't skim over questions in a too superficial way;
- Resist the temptation to check each answer thoroughly until you are absolutely convinced it is right; you will waste too much time if you do;
- If you aren't sure of an answer, bear in mind that you won't have time to come back to it later, so put down your best guess and move on. However, avoid wild guessing – in some tests marks are often taken off for wrong answers;
- Don't be put off by other candidates. Try to ignore what they are doing and not be distracted by them;
- Finally, try not to be overawed by the formal nature of the test, or to be panicked by the time pressure.