In the following article, I will walk you through seven great, practical, and actionable tips to tackle any online test from the world’s top test providers.
An online test can be a very intimidating and stressful experience. Approaching it without proper preparation will seriously hurt your chances at landing your desired job. Preparing in a smart way, on the other hand, will significantly improve your performance and boost your score.
Let’s dive right in.
Tip No. 1: Calculator
Regardless of your desired job, you are probably going to face some sort of a numerical reasoning test during your online assessment. All test providers have versions of this type of test. They differ in style, format, and difficulty level, but a basic truth remains the same: You will have to make some calculations.
Before you start preparing for any numerical reasoning test, you have to ask yourself one crucial question: Are you allowed a calculator? Knowing this minor detail in advance could change your entire preparation strategy.
1. No calculator allowed: This is usually the case when you take the test in a monitored environment and are only allowed to use pen and paper. If this is the case, you must work on your mental calculation ability.
For starters, if you don’t know the 1-12 multiplication table by heart, start memorizing. You are also advised to learn some techniques for fast calculations, like percentages, multiplication of large numbers, and estimation.
2. Calculator allowed: This is good news, isn’t it? Well, not necessarily. If you don’t know how to work a calculator, it won’t be of any help.
If you know you can bring a calculator with you, make sure you go over its functions in advance. Practice how to use it fast enough so it will become an advantage instead of a liability.
Bear in mind that if you are allowed to use a calculator, that doesn’t mean you have to use it. In cases where time is short, mental calculations might prove faster than using a calculator. That leads me right to the second tip”
Tip No. 2: Time Management
Given infinite time, most online assessments can eventually be solved correctly. The problem starts when you are limited by a stressful time constraint.
In most cases, the time constraint is the greatest obstacle on your way to a high score. How do you tackle it? That depends on what kind of test you are facing.
The time limit can be anywhere from 90 seconds per question to as little as five seconds. Yes, only five seconds! This is exactly the case with the notorious Thomas International GIA Test, where you have to answer dozens of questions in only a couple of minutes.
Watch this video to get a closer look at the GIA test and it’s time constraint:
To beat the time limit on your online assessment, make sure you:
- Know exactly what the specific time limit of your upcoming test is.
- Practice under the exact same time constraint, so you get used to the rhythm.
- Practice not only the time constraint, but also the length of the test, so you build the proper stamina.
- Time your performance while you practice to understand just how long it takes you to solve each question separately.
But what happens if you just can’t manage to solve a question, or it takes longer than expected? Do you guess? Skip and come back in the end? Or take as long as you need to solve it? Depending on your test, you need to have a strategy.
Tip No. 3: Test Strategy
One of the secrets to succeeding on a test is to form a strategy before you dive in. A solid strategy will help you maximize your score by knowing how to react to every situation.
The most important thing you have to remember is that your goal is to get the highest score possible. This does not always mean you have to answer all the questions or even most of them. Your concern is getting as many right answers as you can.
In most cases, we know that all questions in the test are worth the same and that points are not deducted for wrong answers. In these cases, your best strategy is to skip the harder questions or just guess. Then, go back to them in the end if you have the time. This will allow you to accumulate more right answers.
And if your test is adaptive? Well, that’s a whole different story.
For example, let’s look at the adaptive test by Talent Q and its special format:
- The test is adaptive, which means that every right answer will be followed by a harder question, and every wrong answer will be followed by an easier question. To get the maximum score, you simply must tackle the harder questions, no way around it.
- Each question is timed separately. This means you can’t go back to check your answers in the end. Once you submit your answer or time runs out, there’s no turning back.
To find out more about the Talent Q test, watch this video:
Get specific preparation for the adaptive Talent Q test and learn how to solve the hardest questions possible.
To sum it up:
- Research the test you are about to take and make sure you understand its specific format. Is it adaptive, are you penalized for wrong answers, and is it timed per question?
- Prepare a strategy that is aligned with your specific test format. Your goal is to get the highest score possible, and your strategy should serve that purpose.
- Practice your strategy as much as you can so you know how to use it during the real test.
As we’ve seen already, time is a crucial element, and wasting it can badly impact your score. What else can you do to use your time properly?
Tip No. 4: Know the Rules in Advance
Most tests will use specific types of questions over and over again. If you know the types of questions used in your test, you can save a lot of time by simply skipping the instructions.
This is especially true with speed tests, where you have very little time to answer many questions. If you know in advance what you are facing, you don’t have to waste time and energy figuring it out as you go. This will let you concentrate your resources solely on solving the questions, which will improve your performance immensely.
A good example for that is the Thomas International GIA Test we discussed earlier, in which you only have five seconds per question. A good way to handle that kind of stress is to come ready. Know the instructions in advance.
The test is divided into sections, and the beginning of each one includes instructions. After you start answering the questions, you will not see the instructions again.
This is what a question might look like on the test:
Seems innocent enough, doesn’t it?
These are the instructions presented at the beginning of the section:
In each question, you will be presented with three numbers. Identify the lowest and highest numbers, and then calculate their differences from the third, middle number.
Your task is to choose the number which is furthest from the middle number (either the lowest or the highest number).
Each question has three possible answer choices. Only one answer is correct.
Now, imagine you encounter these instructions for the first time on the real test. Not a pretty picture.
Knowing what you are expected to do in advance gives you a huge advantage.
Another good example is the Watson Glaser Test, which is used mainly in the legal professions and managerial roles. It has a unique set of rules that you will not encounter anywhere else.
For more information about the Watson Glaser test, watch this video:
For example, in one of the sections of the test, you are presented with a text, followed by a statement. Your job is to decide if the statement is true or false.
The problem is that the answer can also be “probably true” or “probably false.” This is very confusing, as it is something you will not see anywhere else.
How would you go about determining whether something were probably true or probably false? Learn the rules in advance, and you will have an answer ready.
Learn how to figure out whether a statement is probably true or false and improve your Watson Glaser Test score.
As we’ve seen, there are tests with unique formats and questions. On the other hand, there are also question types that you will see across different tests.
Tip No. 5: Tables and Graphs
Tables and graphs are popular question formats found on many numerical reasoning tests. Master these, and you are guaranteed a few easy points.
A good example of these questions can be found in tests by SHL, maybe the most popular test provider. These questions will present you with a table or graph filled with a lot of details. Then, you will be asked to extract some information using the given data. Usually, you will need to use additional simple calculations to get the answer.
Let’s see an example:
By how much does the overall value of extracted silver per employee exceed that of copper?
- Cannot say
In most cases, you will have an overload of data. Most of it is not needed and only adds confusion.
To approach these kinds of questions, follow a few simple steps:
- Look only at the headlines so you understand what the table is all about.
- Look out for the units, usually stated in the headlines. The most common mistakes happen when test-takers are rushing through without paying attention to crucial details.
- Read the question two times if you have to. The question will state which data you need to extract from the table or graph.
- Go back to the data and look only for what you were asked about.
- Make the proper calculation and get the right answer.
This workflow will make sure you cut your answering time immensely, as it forces you to focus on only the small amount of data you actually need.
Try it for yourself. Follow the steps and answer the sample question.
You will see that you will easily and quickly come to the right answer: (4) $554.
Watch this video to get a deeper understanding of the SHL tests:
Familiarize yourself with other typical questions you might encounter on the SHL test.
Another example of well-known tables and graphs questions can be found on the Cut-E tests. Similar to what we’ve just seen, you will be presented with a fully loaded table or graph. The only difference is that, here, you will have to analyze a statement about the data and decide whether it is true, false, or that you cannot say.
It may look and feel like a new type of question, but you will see the question will be very easy to handle if you follow the same workflow.
For more information about the Cut-E tests, watch this video:
Practice tables and graphs questions to improve your Cut-E test score.
Tables and graphs are important, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more ground to cover.
Tip No. 6: Don’t Settle for the Official Practice Questions
Every test provider will offer you a chance to prepare with a few practice questions. Almost every provider has a practice page on its website, and some of them even give you a few practice questions just before the actual test.
This is great, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s enough. Remember, there are a lot of question types and formats. The practice questions offered by the test provider will cover only a small portion, and you will find yourself surprised and confused come test day if you rely only on these practice questions. Do the extra research and gather as much information as possible — which leads us to our final tip.
Tip No. 7: Know Your Weak Spots
Doing proper research is not only about knowing the test format and question style. A big part of it entails knowing yourself.
While you’re practicing and preparing, make sure to take note of the areas you are not comfortable with. Smart preparation means dividing your energy and resources in a smart way. If your verbal reasoning is top notch but your numerical reasoning is quite mediocre, you need to spend more time practicing numerical reasoning questions.
The only way to understand your weak spots is to practice as much as you can, as broadly as you can, and keep track of your performance. This will ensure you maximize your abilities, and your score will skyrocket.
Online assessments can be intimidating and confusing. In order to master them and get a great score, you have to get organized and form a smart preparation strategy.
The seven golden rules are a good place to start:
- Calculator: Yes or no?
- Time Management: Master the time constraint.
- Test Strategy: Know how to approach your specific test.
- Know the rules of the test in advance.
- Master tables and graphs questions.
- Don’t settle for the official practice questions.
- Know your weaknesses so you can work on them and improve your performance.
Research. Practice. Ace the test. Good luck!
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