Numeracy tests


What are numerical reasoning tests?

Numerical reasoning tests require you to understand numbers, interpret data and read charts and graphs. You will typically be asked to decide: Which of the options is correct, if any? Can the answer be deduced from the data presented?

Most numerical tests are pitched at GCSE (high school) level. For some jobs in the city you may be required to demonstrate an understanding similar to A Level maths.  

Topics you might face include fractions, decimals, percentages, elementary algebra, powers, coordinates & graphs, the straight line, simple linear equations, simultaneous equations, quadratic equations, approximations, averages, ratios, progressions or tables.

In some numerical tests you can use a calculator, in others you cannot. You will be given a time limit and must complete your test within that time. Time limits are intentionally tight and are often the most challenging aspect of the assessment.

How can I prepare for numerical reasoning tests?

There are many ways to practise numerical reasoning tests, for example:

  • Login to GraduatesFirst to access three numerical reasoning tests via the LSE Careers subscription. Unlike many of the free online resources, this one will give you a personalised report and worked solutions to questions – use this to work out where you need to improve.
  • A quick Google search will provide a list of free online practice tests. Try the following: AssessmentDay, NumericalReasoningTest.org or JobTestPrep
  • Check the recruiting employer’s website, they might have some further advice or offer practice tests.

Make sure you do the practice tests under timed test conditions. Most people who score badly on numerical reasoning tests do so because they run out of time.

If you need to improve on certain mathematical areas, the following sites provide support:

  • GCSE Bitesize – A school level website, covering the maths you need in numerical tests.
  • National numeracy challenge – Use this site to check your numeracy and set targets to work towards. The focus is on maths needed for everyday life.
  • MathCentre – A series of numeracy leaflets created by De Montfort University, which outline the basics, e.g. percentages, ratios, table and graph interpretation, currency and foreign exchange, shares and dividends, and much more.
  • Books in the LSE Careers resource centre, for example, Mike Bryon’s How to pass graduate psychometric tests.

Other top tips include:

  • create a study group with your friends so you can encourage and learn from each other
  • complete Sudoku and brain training exercises
  • use maths in your everyday life – add up your shopping, interpret data in the press, etc. 

How can I perform better on the day?

  • Begin by making sure you understand the question properly. Read and digest the data provided and make the most of any example questions.
Estimate to save time. A quick calculation of the approximate answer should allow you to eliminate some of the multiple-choice options that are obviously wrong. 

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