A few final tips – Overcoming your fear of the Psychometric Boogeyman…

Psychometric testing… Not much fun. If you need to complete psychometric testing for a role, I can offer the following tips.

1. Preparation is everything. It has probably been a fair while since you have sat any kind of test. Being under time pressure, and having to work quickly is something that you may have forgotten how to manage. Replicating the conditions that you will experience being tested beforehand will help you handle the stress.

2. Have a strategy for answering. Practicing the tests will ensure that you get used to working to the clock. What things do you need to work out the tests? A pad and paper, a calculator etc. I found, through doing multiple tests that I worked best working through a question and pointing to the screen at the information as I required it. Sounds a bit silly? Whilst I looked a bit strange running my fingers over the screen, my test results improved. Something about the way my brain processes information?

3. Have a strategy to keep to time. Most tests are timed. There are greater penalties for not answering enough questions rather than getting one wrong. Do not get stuck on a question in the test. Practice identifying questions you are going to struggle with quickly and move on. Don’t overinvest time in a hard question early in the questions. Most of the tests are designed to be very difficult to complete in the given time – so aim to answer as many as possible rather than getting them all right. Accuracy is critical, but if you have an inner perfectionist who finds it hard to let go, you are going to need to silence that inner voice!.

Work out how you are going to keep time. I used my iphone. Before you start the test, it should tell you how many questions and how much time. Divide the time by the number of questions and write down “Marker” questions. For example, if there are 60 questions, and you have 60 minutes, you should be answering 20 questions every 20 minutes. Dividing into thirds worked best for me. So as my timer ticked over to 20 and then 40 minutes, I would know if I was keeping up by completing 20 and 40 questions respectively. Practice this way…

4. Three Things you are going to need to know. 

  • Percentages. Every kind of percentage calculation. The people who write these tests must think that this is all we do at work! The questions will often require multiple calculations to arrive at an answer. If you cannot instantly identify the correct method for calculation quickly you will not succeed.
  • Algebra. Don’t avoid this. You will get some questions that need you to use long forgotten algebra skillz. Solving simultaneous equations etc is critical to a lot of questions.
  • Some verbal reasoning questions will purposefully be around polarising subjects. Forget your personal viewpoint and focus on the information.

5. Useful links to help.

The best free tests I could find online are here : http://www.shldirect.com/practice_tests.html
SHL Direct’s test questions are pretty good.

I used this paid site as well :
http://www.psychometricinstitute.com.au/
which I would rate as “OK”.

The best way I found to work out what skills I needed to relearn :

  1. Do an online test completely “real time” to see where you are at.
  2. Be horrified at how many questions you get wrong!
  3. Go back and print screen on all the questions without the answer. What you want is a copy of each question that you can work on offline.
  4. Answer each question slowly and carefully offline – this is to identify what you do and don’t know in terms of having the mental toolkit to answer the question. You will work out pretty quickly what you need to refresh your brain on – percentage and algebra most likely! This is the perfect way to relearn the skills you need to succeed.
  5. Go back to the website and pop in all your answers “real time” to see how many you got right. If you got any wrong, get help. Ask a super brainiac mate for a hand on methodology. Learn it.
  6. Re-do the test/s in real time. Hopefully you now have all your answering methodology down pat, so you are just practicing now to do it quickly.
  7. Re-do the tests many times. The more you do them, the better you will perform in the “real deal”. A footy coach said to me once “you play the same way you train.” If you take it easy at training, you are probably going to do the same thing on game day.

Do as many different kinds of tests that you can find. There was one particular kind of test that I failed miserably at to start with. I was just terrible. The third time I did the test, my brain suddenly recognised what to look for and I went from getting a very small percentage right to virtually 100% correct in an instant.

I have heard of very smart and intelligent people not performing in psychometric testing because they had not prepared. Second time round, after some decent prepping though, they aced them. I am not sure of the value of psychometric testing and how closely it correlates with successful appointments – the fact that you can “learn” the skills that are being tested and improve your results substantially suggests that psychometric testing tests your ability to answer psychometric questions. But, if you want the job, you have to play by the rules that are defined by someone else. Be smart and prepare your self as best you can for the job you want!

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