Aptitude test guide

What is an aptitude test and what does it measure?

Designed to measure your work-related perception, judgement and reasoning, aptitude tests operate on the prinicple that there is only one correct answer to each test question, and that everyone can correctly solve all the test questions. The only difference between people is in how quickly they can correctly complete the test (i.e. answer all the test questions), which is why these tests are always timed. The time allowed for the test is based on that required by 1 - 5% of thepopulation to correctly solve all the test questions.

What do aptitude tests measure?
These tests measure what psychologists refer to as your fluid and crystallised intelligence. The theory of fluid and crystallised intelligence suggests that people’s intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. It’s more commonly known as the ability to ‘quickly think on your feet’ and is considered to be independent of learning, past experience, and education. Some examples include coming up with problem-solving strategies, the ability to quickly learn new skills, the ability to quickly integrate new information, strategic thinking, etc. The abstract reasoning component of the aptitude test measures your fluid intelligence.

The second component of intelligence that the aptitude test measures is crystallised intelligence. Crystallised intelligence is the ability to take from past experiences and learning and apply this knowledge or experieince to a situation. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences, and becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.


Employers, obviously, will only be interested in your ability to apply your learning to work-related situations. Work situations that require crystallised intelligence include comprehending written reports and instructions, producing  reports, using numbers as a tool to make effective decisions, etc. There are many aptitude tests that measure different aspects of crystallised intelligence. The most common are verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, spatial reasoning and mechanical reasoning.


Popular aptitude tests

Abstract reasoning test

Abstract reasoning is also known as conceptual reasoning.  A non-verbal test, which uses shapes rather than words or text to measure someone’s fluid intelligence, this test is unique in its design. Each question includes a series of shapes with common logical rules. The number of correct answers (i.e. correct identification of the shapes’ logical rules) achieved within the allotted  time gives a measure of your fluid intelligence. Read more about the abstract reasoning test

Verbal reasoning test

This is a timed test designed to measure your or verbal reasoning skills (verbal analytical skills). These skills include the ability to logically derive conclusions from written facts or data and quickly identify critical issues from written material such as reports. If, for example, you can read a document and quickly identify the most important content, then there is a good chance that you have high verbal reasoning skills. Read more about the verbal reasoning test

Numerical Reasoning Test

This test measures your  numerical reasoning skills(or numerical analytical skills). These skills are very different to your mathematical ability which is not measured by this test. These skills include the capacity to quickly identify critical issues from numerical data such as graphs and tables. It also includes the ability to use work-related numerical data such as performance figures or financial outcomes to make effective decisions. Read more about the numerical reasoning test

The following aptitude tests are less commonly used but also measure your crystallised intelligence:

Spatial reasoning

Spatial reasoning is the ability to visually manipulate objects and has specific industry and role related applications. This test is used to measure your ability to, for example, efficiently organise a warehouse or any other type of space. It may also used to measure your ability to identify hazards in the workplace or to solve technical problems.

Mechanical reasoning

This timed test measures your ability to quickly comprehend mechanical concepts and solve mechanical problems. Read more about the mechanical reasoning test