The Curse of the Psychometric Test

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bornagainboffin
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Dear all,

This is my first post, and I felt that to vent my frustrations here may, somehow, benefit me or provide me with some solutions.

So I'm a mature student, and after totally screwing up my education in the past and working in dead end jobs for years, I decided to sacrifice a few years to secure a decent education. I have spent the past 6 years completing 5 GCSE's, 3 A Levels and a degree. Now I have the opportunity to look into these pretty amazing graduate schemes that will pave the way to excellent careers, but now I am encountering these blasted psychometric tests, and I'm failing on them!

I don't get it, after 6 years of exams, papers and tests, I am now required to sit more exams? I'm finding them extremely debilitating, particularly the enigmatic maths tests. Maths was never a strong point for me, but walking away with a B in GCSE Maths is still my proudest achievement. Since then I've pursued a more literary educational route. Now these tests are coming up, asking me to find specific percentages within other vague percentages, and I'm feeling a bit silly again.

Are there any prospective graduate schemes that don't have such tests?

Is there any literature that can prepare you for these tests?

Thanks in advance.
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Nymthae
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(Original post by bornagainboffin)
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The majority of grad schemes use them in my experience. It's a handy way of benchmarking applicants against each other directly, as your education doesn't necessarily do that. You'll get a job without them, but if you're interested in getting on a scheme i'd persevere.

The tests can vary in their aim, but it's quite common that most of them make it very difficult to complete everything in the time allowed so there is a balance between speed and accuracy at play.

a) revise the sort of things they commonly ask (percentages, percentage increase or decrease, and so on) to make sure you are very clear on what you need to do when they ask for it. I found I perform reasonably well on the tests, and the way I "feel" like i'm approaching it is the time I have for the question is going on skimming the information, and picking out what I need. The actual process of doing it is relatively ingrained/automatic.

b) practice tests. There are loads of them online, and if you're in contact with your university careers still they will probably have some paid tests they have access to for current students and graduates (~ graduated within the last 3-5 years). I always do a couple of practice tests right before doing an actual one. The careers service might have some other advice, always worth checking.

c) don't panic. If you do get really stuck on a question and feel like you've used too much time (i.e. glance at the timer here and there) just guess and move on. Obviously, if you feel like that with every question you need to go back and revise/practice, but I sometimes end up with stuff where i've either misread the question in haste, made an error somewhere, or just struggling to see what I need. Some practice tests will break it down for you actually, and you'll see whether you're correct but too slow, or quick but too inaccurate.

You only have to look around online to see a lot of people find them difficult, so you're not alone, and there's no need to feel silly you can do it, but it will take time getting used to and building your rhythm up. Similarly there are free tests available for the logical reasoning and verbal ones, if you need to polish those up a bit. I find some of the logical reasoning ones are very hard (~2-3 things happening at once), but in doing them it really highlights the simplicity of others. The logical tests with explanations of why X is the right answer were very useful to help me get into the mindset.
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INTit
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(Original post by Nymthae)
The majority of grad schemes use them in my experience. It's a handy way of benchmarking applicants against each other directly, as your education doesn't necessarily do that. You'll get a job without them, but if you're interested in getting on a scheme i'd persevere.

The tests can vary in their aim, but it's quite common that most of them make it very difficult to complete everything in the time allowed so there is a balance between speed and accuracy at play.

a) revise the sort of things they commonly ask (percentages, percentage increase or decrease, and so on) to make sure you are very clear on what you need to do when they ask for it. I found I perform reasonably well on the tests, and the way I "feel" like i'm approaching it is the time I have for the question is going on skimming the information, and picking out what I need. The actual process of doing it is relatively ingrained/automatic.

b) practice tests. There are loads of them online, and if you're in contact with your university careers still they will probably have some paid tests they have access to for current students and graduates (~ graduated within the last 3-5 years). I always do a couple of practice tests right before doing an actual one. The careers service might have some other advice, always worth checking.

c) don't panic. If you do get really stuck on a question and feel like you've used too much time (i.e. glance at the timer here and there) just guess and move on. Obviously, if you feel like that with every question you need to go back and revise/practice, but I sometimes end up with stuff where i've either misread the question in haste, made an error somewhere, or just struggling to see what I need. Some practice tests will break it down for you actually, and you'll see whether you're correct but too slow, or quick but too inaccurate.

You only have to look around online to see a lot of people find them difficult, so you're not alone, and there's no need to feel silly you can do it, but it will take time getting used to and building your rhythm up. Similarly there are free tests available for the logical reasoning and verbal ones, if you need to polish those up a bit. I find some of the logical reasoning ones are very hard (~2-3 things happening at once), but in doing them it really highlights the simplicity of others. The logical tests with explanations of why X is the right answer were very useful to help me get into the mindset.
I wouldn't bother. The number of hoops they make you jump through on those grad schemes is horrendous. In my experience waste of time, money and is demoralising.

Online test, phone interview, assessment centre(psychometric tests, group exercises,interviews) and your odds of getting the job at the end are very small.

Once you been through that torture a few times you'll start applying for smaller company's who want grads and will interview you in a sane manner.
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Nymthae
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(Original post by INTit)
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Completely agree about the process. It's brutal. Right now the way I look at it is someone has to get a place, and you might as well try. I don't know if part of it is my "want" to do something - because actual jobs aren't very viable for a while (i.e. who is going to wait 8 months for me at this point). If you're a strong candidate on paper it's not too difficult to get through the early stages, it's just the days that are ridiculous.
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Smack
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(Original post by bornagainboffin)
Are there any prospective graduate schemes that don't have such tests?
I applied for quite a few technical ones that didn't have such tests; but that's unfortunately not helpful to yourself. In reality, the ability to do things such as percentages is extremely useful to a huge range of jobs, so I would persevere with it and try your best.

Is there any literature that can prepare you for these tests?.
Yes, lots online.
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Duck and Cover
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(Original post by INTit)

Once you been through that torture a few times you'll start applying for smaller company's who want grads and will interview you in a sane manner.
Agreed!! I only applied for one grad scheme when I realised that, for me personally, the above method was the way forward
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ResultsDday
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I was in my final year last year and put a lot of time and effort into filling out applications for graduate schemes. Brought a practice test pack online and whilst I was fine with verbal tests, I always failed the numerical tests. Like you, maths was never a strong point for me.

Having now graduated, I've avoided applying to grad schemes. I'd just applied to graduate roles (there are a lot out there). The good thing with these is that whilst the interview process often involves some kind of test, none of them are as ridiculous as these psychometric tests for graduate schemes. And you also get feedback from the interview panel most of the time if you're unsuccessful. You won't get this with graduate schemes due to the high number of people they interview.

So if you're really struggling with these tests, look into graduate jobs rather than schemes. Whilst I'm sure you can get your head around the tests, it takes a lot of effort when there's a very small chance you'll recieve a job offer at the end of it.
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bornagainboffin
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Many thanks to everyone for your views.

I will take on board what everyone has said, but I think as the last two comments advised, I will look more into grad jobs.

Again, thanks
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Amosetana
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Here in Australia you now have to do them even if you want a basic job such as work in a supermarket even if it is checkout or trolley collection. I have two bachelor's (Bachelor of International Relations and a Bachelor of Public Administration) and Master's (Laws and International Relations) but am a trolley collector at a supermarket as i keep falling psychometric tests. Even if i went on for a Phd i would still be a trolley collector as i fail psychometric tests. Oh hot my job as trolley collector before psychometric tests came in
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