Numerical Reasoning Tests
Numerical tests, sometimes known as numerical reasoning tests, are used during the application process at all major investment banks and accountancy & professional services firms, as well as some sales and managerial roles, or other professions that require a high level of numeracy. Test can be either written or taken online, and require you to answer questions based on facts and figures, normally with one correct option to pick for each question. Calculators are usually permitted for the written tests, although this is not always the case. Scrap paper to calculate workings is provided.
The tests are usually provided by a third party, with the most popular test suppliers being:
All of them are very similar and to practice for one is equivalent to practising for them all. Graduates who have not had a significant mathematical component to their degree will find the numerical tests challenging, and practice is advised.
Features of Numerical Tests
The tests are multiple choice, and you will have to select an answer from between 4 and 6 possible solutions. No mathematical/numerical skills are required beyond GCSE or high school level, though you will need to be competent working with numbers.
All numerical tests tend to involve the following:
- Between 45 seconds and two minutes on average to answer each question
- Interpretation of data from a table
- Interpretation of data from graphs and charts
- Percentages and proportions
- Currency conversions
- Critical reasoning
- Understanding of inflation & rebasing, 'real' prices.
Typically numerical reasoning tests will include the formats of graphs and tables, word problems (ie a passage of text that requires a calculation), or identifying the next number in a logical series.
Correct Exam Technique
The tests are timed, and typically there is time pressure. Most online tests are designed to be completed within the time allocated. Note that written tests, however, are often designed to be impossible within the time limits.
For a test of 30 questions and 30 minutes, spend no more than one minute on each question. Use a stopwatch to keep time. When your time is up for a question, move on. It is common for some questions to be answerable in 15 seconds whereas others can take much longer. Make sure you answer the easy questions first and collect those marks before allocating time to harder questions. It is common for many people to fail due to becoming stuck on a question and not having time to complete the easy questions that follow it.
All questions are multiple choice. The incorrect choices are made up from common mistakes to the problem, in order to distract you from the correct answer. Consequently, make sure you are very careful with your working.
When attending a written test at an assessment centre, make sure you bring a calculator you are familiar with, since otherwise you will be forced to use what is provided.
- Bring/use a stopwatch.
- Be prepared with scrap paper if doing an online test.
- Work swiftly but carefully- some answers are there to trick you.
- Calculate the maximum amount of time to be allocated to a question and stick to it using your stopwatch.
- If you have not done a mathematical degree, you must practise, or you will fail.
Books That Can Help
We've not yet found a perfect book, but this is one we like to recommend. Most people will need to practice, and in our opinion, this book will give you the best chance of succeeding. Click to check it out.
Practising Numerical Tests
We have the following practice tests for you to try. They are very similar to the real tests you will have to sit, and of similar difficulty. These tests are not timed, however you must be able to answer each question in one minute or less when you sit the real thing. You can take the tests as many times as you please, and you will be marked at the end. Unlike the real tests, you are not permitted to revisit questions you have already answered.
Here is a free sample test for you to get started with (you must be logged in to take this test):
If that was useful, you may also like to try our Aptitude Tests, which include 10 numerical reasoning tests and 8 verbal reasoning tests. These have been designed to simulate the questions typically used in online assessments. Although they do not contain any questions from the real tests, they are based upon them, and designed to provide practice to help you through. Each test is automatically marked at the end and you are given your percentile, which shows how you did in relation to everybody else who took the test.