How to Prepare for an Aptitude Test? 6 Tips

Find your exact test, be skeptical of test promises, accuracy, and more. Best methods to make the most out of your preparation plan.

23 February, 2021 / Jhonathan Smith

The following article provides you with the 6 best tips and methods to maximize your preparation process when facing an aptitude test or a cognitive ability test.

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Tip #1 – Find Your Test (If You Can)

If you have been invited to take an aptitude test, the best thing you could possibly do to maximize your chances of passing it is to know EXACTLY which test it is.

Here are several ways to do it:

  • Contact your employer – many employers are very transparent about their tests.
  • Forums and social networks – very good place to gather intel from past test-takers. Even if that information isn’t complete, it usually provides good leads.
  • Check your test invitation – does it mention any specific names? Which URLs does it link to?

You will not always be able to learn your actual test from the information you get, but as aptitude test experts, we are often able to “read between the lines” and help you with that – so feel free to contact us!

Tip #2 – Be Skeptical of Prep Promises

Unfortunately, many websites have made it their business to create one single generic product and to sell it as a magic solution for each and every test on the market, without even being transparent about it.

Googling things like “Company A Aptitude Test” is likely to land you on at least half a dozen such pages, yielding little to no information on the better scenario, and blatantly misleading information on the worse one.

If you have come across any website that allegedly prepares you for a particular test, make sure it at least corresponds with what you already know from Tip #1.

Here’s a rule of thumb – if the webpage is only a bucket list of general terms such as “numerical reasoning”, “verbal reasoning” etc. with nothing unique about the specific employer or test, it’s probably not going to help very much.

Tip #3 – Accuracy

Assuming that you have found your exact test in Tip #1, and considering the warning in Tip #2, do your best to pick the most accurate and authentic preparation you can.

Accuracy does not only relate to the test content, but also to its design, structure, time constraints, etc.

The best preparation is achieved by replicating the actual test experience as closely as possible.

Tip #4 – Become Familiar with the TEST

Why is the word ‘test’ in all-caps?

Because there is more to a test than just its content, and most test-prep resources out there put all the emphasis on the test content, and say nearly nothing about the test’s appearance, interface, special features, etc.

Not convinced?

Just consider how the answers to the following questions will impact your preparation and in-test behavior:

  • Am I allowed a calculator?
  • Can I skip questions and get back to them later?
  • How many answer options does each question have?
  • Is the test progressive? (harder questions in the end)
  • Is the test adaptive? (matches the test level to the test-taker’s level)

When preparing, get as much information as you can on the test interface and rules, as they will have major impact on your preparation methods and overall performance.

Tip #4 – Read the Explanations (Even If You Got the Answer Right)

After solving a question correctly, many candidates deem it unnecessary to take a look at the explanation.

However, that is rather counterproductive, as you may lose valuable information that could help you during the test, like more efficient solving methods, quick-solving tips, general recommendations for this type of question, etc.

Read the explanations for all questions, as they may contain valuable information.

Tip #5 – Time Management

Effective time management is one of the most crucial elements for success in nearly any test.

But, as a matter of fact, time management has two aspects:

  • Micro time management – Solve individual questions faster.
  • Macro time management – Allocate time effectively throughout the test.

Here are some questions to answer when practicing, to make sure you are making the most of your preparation:

Micro Time Management

  • How important is the time factor in this test? (e.g., in the CCAT test it is highly important, whereas in the Watson Glaser test it is of minor importance).
  • What are some effective shortcut techniques I can use to cut down on solving time? (e.g., estimation, elimination).

Macro Time Management

  • Should I spend more time on the first test questions or save it for the end?
  • Are points reduced for wrong answers?
  • Am I allowed to skip questions and get back to them later? If so, how can I best use this to my advantage?

When practicing for an aptitude test, take both micro and macro time management into account, and practice them proactively and purposefully.

Tip #6 – Preparation Is More Than Practice

That is one thing most test-prep websites will not tell you.

Practice is definitely, hands down the MOST important element in preparation, but it’s not the only one.

There is a lot you can do to prepare other than practicing, but the specifics heavily depend on the test features and what aids you are allowed to bring with you to the test.

Here are several examples:

  • Talent-Q Elements – a list of questions and relevant tabs
  • Dev10 Aptitude Test – a set of predefined Excel tables
  • SmartPredict Digit Challenge – an extended multiplication table
  • Mechanical Aptitude Tests – a list of fundamental physical principles
  • Etc

However – one word of caution.

Test providers will sometimes require candidates to retest in a supervised setting, if there is suspicion that they’ve cheated. So, while you may practice with any aid you’d like, don’t use anything during the actual test that you wouldn’t use if it were proctored!

Throughout our website, whenever possible, we try to give you additional preparation methods, other than practice. You can also contact us with the specific test name and allowed aids, and we’ll think it through together!

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