Did somebody say... tests?
If you’ve been invited to an apprenticeship assessment centre, the likelihood is that you’ll have to face some tests. This is standard practice, and tests will fit in alongside other exercises you'll complete throughout the day to give the best picture of you to the potential employer.
Many of the large apprentice recruiters will ask you to complete an online test as part of your initial application, and it’s still quite popular to use tests during the apprenticeship assessment day too.
If you have to do tests at the apprenticeship assessment centre, they will usually be psychometric tests, written tests or practical tests.
Practical tests tend to be specific to apprenticeship application centres; they are usually for apprenticeships in sectors such as engineering and construction. For these ones, it helps to practise a little bit beforehand.
The main thing to remember is that these tests are nothing to worry about - if anything, they add another element to your application, and allow the employer to learn more about you!
Psychometric tests are pretty common and are used by all sorts of employers. They are designed to check that you have the basic aptitudes and qualities to be able to do the job well.
They might be a bit challenging, but they don’t require you to have previous knowledge, so you can’t really revise for them.
There are two general types of psychometric tests: those that test intelligence and those that measure behaviour or personality. At your apprenticeship assessment centre, you might have to complete one of the following tests:
Numerical reasoning: This is one of the most popular tests for employers, particularly for apprenticeships requiring numerical skill.
They probably won’t ask you to do high level maths (so don’t worry if you’re not a maths genius), but they will ask you to employ basic mathematical skills (like addition, multiplication, fractions, percentages and ratios) and interpret numerical data from tables, charts and graphs.
If your maths is a bit rusty, it’s well worth doing some online tests beforehand and brushing up on your basic maths skills.
Verbal reasoning: These kinds of tests usually involve answering questions on a passage of text. The question might take the form of a statement that you have to identify as true, false or neither depending on the information given in a passage of text.
It’s crucial that you base your answers strictly on the information given in the passage, not your own knowledge.
Another verbal test they might give you is a verbal comprehension test. They might give you a text to read and you’ll have to answer questions to show that you have understood it.
These usually relate to the type of things you might be reading as part of the apprenticeship, such as a technical manual or a briefing note.
Inductive reasoning (a.k.a. abstract reasoning): Sometimes referred to as an abstract reasoning test or diagrammatic style test, inductive reasoning tests are designed to test your logical problem-solving ability.
These tests are devised to present you with unfamiliar situations and see if you can find solutions. These tests are popularly used by technical, finance and engineering employers and those looking for employees who can think conceptually as well as analytically.
The most common format involves finding patterns in a series of shapes.
Situational judgement: This is another popular test for employers. In a situational judgement test, you’ll be presented with hypothetical situations that you might encounter during your apprenticeship and be asked how you might handle them.
These tests are used to examine your decision making skills.
Personality questions: Another test the employer might spring on you is a personality one. This isn’t a sum yourself up in a few words kind of test, ”I’m bubbly, chatty and love a good laugh”, or a Big Brother-style personality contest.
In fact, personality tests can be pretty boring, long and repetitive. They’ll usually be looking to see if you have the right kind of personality traits to thrive in the apprenticeship. You can find plenty of personality tests online to give you a sense of the kind of structure they might take.
Manual Dexterity (Mandex) Test or Practical Test…
Practical or Mandex tests are primarily used for technical or engineering apprenticeships that involve hands-on aspects. Practical tests might involve assembling a piece of machinery, or something equally dexterous.
They might use a practical test to assess your hand-eye coordination, practical thought process or mechanical reasoning. The practical test is pretty much always related to the kind of work you might do in your apprenticeship.
You might also be asked to complete a technical understanding and mechanical test, and, depending on the apprenticeship, you may have to undergo a basic science and maths test, which is usually a written exam.
Tips for tackling tests…
1. Keep an eye out for the time. Try to strike a balance between rushing and spending too long on each question.
2. It’s usually pretty hard to revise for these tests, but practicing a little beforehand might help, especially if you know that you struggle to time yourself in exams. There’s plenty of practice psychometric tests you can try online to help familiarise yourself with the format.
If you know you’ll be facing a manual dexterity test, then get used to handling tools.
3. Don’t panic. If you can’t answer a question, move on. You can always come back to it later. If you finish early, go back and check over all your answers.
4. Really pay attention to detail, and read every question carefully. It’s about balancing accuracy with speed. The same goes for practical tests.