Numerical Reasoning Tests

Numerical reasoning tests gauge how adept you are at dealing with a variety of different mathematical problems.

• What are numerical reasoning tests?

If you are applying for a job that requires any level of numerical skill, you will likely be asked to complete a numerical reasoning test as part of the recruitment process. These tests are a type of time-sensitive psychometric assessment that measures your ability to interpret, analyse and draw conclusions from numerical data.

Assessments will differ from standardised mathematical tests you may have taken when studying as they mimic real-life data scenarios to test how skilful you are at applying numerical understanding to realistic workplace challenges instead of a syllabus.

Your general mathematics will be put to the test with elements such as arithmetic, ratios, percentages and fractions. Although, for the majority of the assessment you will work with statistical information in the form of graphs, tables and charts. Your job is to extract key facts and figures, identify trends in the data and apply logic to reach a conclusion in answer to multiple-choice written questions.

With ever-increasing importance placed on utilising quality data to drive business decisions, numerical reasoning tests are likely to be used when hiring for almost any position - even outside of a numeracy-based sector.

• Why do employers use numerical reasoning tests?

Being able to accurately interpret data and insightfully draw conclusions or recommendations from that information is essential to a high-performance company. Individuals with these skills are exactly the people companies want to hire, however, it's difficult to know who they are when reviewing resumes alone.

Administering numerical reasoning tests is a fast and effective way for employers to understand what candidates hold promise to deliver these highly sought after abilities. The test is made up of a series of timed statistical questions, using real life scenarios related to the given role that is being applied for.

How you perform on the test will demonstrate what your numerical strengths are, your time management and ability to work accurately at speed. Employers will use the results of this test to shortlist the most suitable candidates for their role.

• How do numerical reasoning tests work?

There is no 'one size fits all' numerical reasoning test. The assessment will vary in duration and complexity, so candidates will always be tested at a corresponding difficulty to the job. There are several test providers for employers to choose from, all with minor variations on the assessment.

Regardless of the variables, there are parallels to be expected from any numerical reasoning test. We recommend familiarising yourself with practice tests ahead of the real thing so you're well prepared and score high.

Numerical reasoning tests last around 10-45 minutes and comprise of timed multiple-choice questions. You can expect to complete one question per minute, however, for more advanced positions a faster response may be required.

The tests are about more than just being good at maths, you'll need to be able to use logic to decipher true from false and test providers are known to place distractors within the data and answers. These are false pieces of information that look similar to the correct, placed within the test to disarm applicants, highlighting the most focussed.

• What skills does numerical reasoning test?

As expected, you will need to have good math skills to achieve a high score on a numerical reasoning test. Ahead of taking a test, we recommend brushing up on your percentages, averages, fractions, and general arithmetic as a starting point.

Once you've spent a little time revising your basic maths skills, we recommend completing as many numerical reasoning practice tests as possible. This will prepare you for the data interpretation and analysis questions you'll face, which make up the majority of the test.

Here, you'll also be required to demonstrate a level of logical reasoning to come to the correct conclusion.

• Key maths skills you'll need for numerical reasoning tests

As you'll be required to demonstrate the ability to work with percentages, fractions, ratios and averages, we have pulled together a few key formulas to help get your revision started.

Percentage Increase

Deduct the original number from the new number, divide the difference by the original number, and times by 100.

Example: find the percentage increase of 300 to 550

550 - 300 = 250

250 ÷ 300 = 0.83

0.83 x 100 = 83

Percentage Decrease

Minus the new number from the original number, divide the difference by the original number, and times by 100.

Example: find the percentage decrease of 800 to 320

800 - 320 = 480

480 ÷ 800 = 0.6

0.6 x 100 = 60

Add 100 to each given percentage, then transform it into decimals. Times the base figure by the first decimal, then multiply the resulting value by the second decimal.

Example: your phone bill is £50. It increases by 10% after 12 months, and a further 15% increase is applied six months later. What's the price of your phone bill after 18 months?

10 + 100 = 110, expressed as 1.10 as a decimal

15 + 100 = 115, expressed as 1.15 as a decimal

50 x 1.10 = 55

55 x 1.15 = 63.25

Converting Percentages into Fractions

Write the percentage as a portion of 100, then simplify that number is required.

Example: Convert 25% into a fraction

25/100 simplified to 1/4

Mean Averages

Add all the numbers together and divide the total by the amount of numbers presented.

Example: find the mean average of 6, 30, 16 and 44

6 + 30 + 16 + 44 = 96

96 ÷ 4 = 24

Start by making sure the denominators are the same. Add the two numerators together, then place them over the denominator. If necessary, simplify the fraction.

Example: 2/7 + 4/7

As the denominators are the same, 2 + 4 = 6

If your denominators are different, times one fraction by the required amount to have two equal denominators. You have to times the denominator and numerator to keep the correct value of the fraction.

Example: work out 4/6 + 2/12

To get a common denominator, multiply 4/6 by 2

4 x 2 = 8

6 x 2 = 12

Now work out 8/12 + 2/12

8 + 2 = 10

Subtracting Fractions

Minus one numerator from the other then place the answer over the denominator.

Example: work out 4/8 - 1/8

4 – 1 = 3

If the denominators are different, follow the same steps as above to find the common denominator.

Multiplying Fractions

Times the numerators, then times the denominators and write down as the new fraction.

Example: 2/6 x 4/7

2 x 4 = 8

6 x 7 = 42

Dividing Fractions

You can find the reciprocal of the dividing fraction by flipping it upside down and timesing the first fraction by this reciprocal.

Example: 2/5 ÷ 1/4

1/4 becomes 4/1

2 x 4 = 8

5 x 1 = 5

Expressing Mixed Fractions as Improper Fractions

Take the entire number of the mixed fraction and times by the denominator of the fractional part. Add the result to the numerator and place it above the existing denominator.

Example: convert 4 2/4 into an improper fraction

4 x 4 = 16

16 + 2 = 18

Effective test-taking strategies

Revision and practice tests will go a long way to helping you succeed in your numerical reasoning test, however, there are a few other strategies that will help you achieve the highest score possible.

Ensure you read the instructions carefully at the beginning of each test, as we've mentioned, every test is different.

Before you head into the timed questions, you'll likely be given a set of practice questions - take your time familiarising yourself with these and settle into the format before starting the timed questions.

Lastly, be aware of distractors placed throughout the test in the form of similar data or multiple-choice answers that are designed to identify if you have read the question properly. Remaining critical and focussed throughout will ensure you identify distractors quickly.

• Numerical Reasoning Tests Tips

Here are our top tips for achieving a high score on your numerical reasoning test.

1. Practice lots of tests

Practice really does make perfect! Using free practice tests is the best way to adjust to both the format and content of a numerical reasoning test. Analysing your results will also give you a deeper insight to where you may need to revise or practice more.

Revising your core mathematical skills is going to make you feel far more prepared and relaxed going into the real test environment.

3. Pace yourself

Though you're being timed, don't panic. Ensure you read the question carefully before moving on to interpret the data. Even if you have found the answer within half the allocated time, use the remaining to re-read the question and confirm you are happy with your answer.

4. Check if you can use a calculator

Depending on the test, you may be permitted to use a calculator. If you are, then make sure you use it! It will save a lot of time!

5. It's okay to guess

It's likely you won't be 100% certain of every single answer, in this case - use as much time and logic as you can to make an educated guess. Always answer the question, as you might guess right and gain a few points you wouldn't have had by skipping the question.

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Numerical Reasoning Tests FAQs

How are numerical reasoning tests scored?

Most numerical reasoning tests use raw or comparative scoring. Raw scores are when correct answers are displayed as a percentage ratio. Comparative scoring is when your personal score is directly compared to the scores of the other people who took the test.

What are numerical reasoning tests used for?

Numerical reasoning tests determine how well you score at a range of different mathematical problems. This in turn gives future employers another way of assessing how suited you are for a particular job role or company. The technology sector often uses these tests, in addition to interviews, to get a broader view of your strengths and weaknesses.

What do numerical reasoning tests involve?

Numerical reasoning tests cover a whole range of mathematical concepts. You could be asked to answer questions on fractions, ratios, percentages and equations, as well as show how you can interpret and analyse data sets, graphs and tables.

What do numerical reasoning tests measure?

The technology industry is competitive - it demands individuals who can work quickly and accurately, and who have a solid grounding in basic mathematical principles. So while you’re showing potential employers how adept you are at with numbers, you’re also giving them a clearer idea of how well you cope under pressure, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how well you’re likely to embed within their team or the wider company.

Where can I practice numerical reasoning tests?

Tech Tests has a huge number of practice numerical reasoning tests that you can try out. The website also has loads of useful tricks and and tips on how to get the best score you can on the big day.

Which employers use numerical reasoning tests?

A lot of jobs with technology at their heart require people who are comfortable with numbers. The numerical reasoning test is the best way for companies to ensure they employ people who will be able to deliver. Whether you want a job as a software developer or a systems analyst, taking a numerical reasoning test is a crucial step on the path to success.

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January 04, 2022

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