Psychometric tests

What are psychometric tests? 

The field of psychometrics looks at the measurement of psychological concepts such as knowledge, aptitude and personality. Tests are underpinned by rigorous research and development to ensure they are effective and reliable.

This type of measurement is interesting to employers because it can give them a greater insight into what you have to offer their organisation. They often use psychometric tests during preliminary screening or as part of an assessment centre. Sometimes the tests are gamified to make them more attractive to participants. See our advice on Gaming in recruitment (link) for more details.

Psychometric tests measure various aspects of mental performance, including:

1. specific aptitudes, such as your ability to work with words or numbers

2. skills, such as manual dexterity and an eye for detail 

3. personality traits, including your motivations, emotions and behaviours.

Employers commonly use the following types of test. Click on each one to explore them further 

Some educational institutions also use psychometric tests as part of the application process. Find out more about GRE/GMAT.

How can I prepare for psychometric tests?

Specific advice will be covered in each section, but there are general actions you can take to improve your performance across most of these test types. They include:

Practice

  • There are many websites that provide practice psychometric tests for free, including AssessmentDay, JobTestPrep, Cubiks, SHL Direct and Graduates First (you will need a password to access this resource via the LSE Careers subscription).
  • Another useful practice website is Practice Reasoning. It does require you to register, and regular emails will appear in your inbox, but they contain lots of useful links, hints and tips.  
  • Business psychologist Dr Mark Parkinson has compiled a long list of links to free tests, which you can access here.
  • Check on the recruiting employer’s website for practice tests. For example, PwC provides a range of practice assessments here.
  • You can also visit the LSE Careers resource centre to look through our book collection.

Many of these free practice sites give you your test score but no feedback on which ones you got wrong, correct answers etc., so use them primarily as an opportunity to practise your technique.

  • Practise under timed conditions - if your test is going to be timed (most of them are), this will give you a more realistic impression of the test process. Many candidates who fail, do so because of time pressures.
  • Identify the test provider that your recruiting employer uses. There are many different tests available and identifying the supplier should allow you to search for the most relevant practice tests.
  • Read the instructions carefully – as time is often limited, it is really important that you are clear about what you need to do and how long you have to complete the test.
  • Use your time wisely – many tests are designed not to be completed, but if you have any time left at the end don’t waste it. Use it to review answers you were less sure of. The more correct answers you get, the higher your score will be.

On the day of the test

Where will I complete the tests?

If the test forms part of an assessment centre, it is likely that you will sit it at the employer’s premises under formal test conditions.

If it is part of a preliminary assessment, you may be asked to go to a designated test centre or you may have to complete it online using your own equipment. If the latter is the case, make sure you:

1. have the appropriate technology needed, i.e. a reliable internet connection, a suitably updated operating system, etc.

2. can sit the test in a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted

3. enable your ‘do not disturb’ (or similar) function to ensure that you don’t get interrupted by calls, notifications etc.

4. charge your device fully.

If you do sit the test online, you may be asked to do another short test as part of the interview process, so the employer can be sure you didn’t get someone else to do it for you!

How can I perform better on the day?

  • If you are unsure of the correct answer, move on and come back to it if you have time at the end. The time you waste stuck on a single question might have been used to easily answer several more. If the test doesn’t allow you to skip a question, make an educated guess.
  • Keep an eye on the time limit – there may be a clock somewhere on the screen or take a watch. Knowing roughly how long you have for each section will help you to pace yourself.
  • Make sure you are using the right box for your answer. With multiple options, it can be easy to click on or mark the wrong one, so don’t lose concentration.
  • Be well rested and alert when you take the test!