Numerical reasoning test

Free online careers resources – part 2 – numerical reasoning tests

Numerical reasoning tests

I work at universities on a casual basis, helping out with careers work during particularly busy periods. I have come across students who are gutted because they have failed the numerical reasoning test which forms part of the recruitment process for a graduate scheme place.  The test is often one of a battery of tests required by the employer – others may be verbal reasoning or abstract reasoning, for example.  These tests tend to come early on in the assessment process, as a filter for applications, usually stage one or two of a six-stage process.  To be knocked out of the recruitment stage right at the beginning is a huge disappointment – and a shock – particularly if you have a high-grade maths GCSE or A level maths – and you weren’t expecting it to be a problem.  Jobs in engineering, data science, manufacturing and operations, and some management consultancy and city roles, are examples of when numerical tests may be used. 

What is numerical reasoning?

Numerical reasoning involves evaluating situations and drawing conclusions from the data provided. Topics could include fractions, decimals, percentages, algebra, graphs, charts, equations, averages, ratios – to show you understand numbers, can interpret data, are accurate and can read graphs and charts. You are generally given a time limit, and this is deliberately tight, which make the test challenging.

Practise, practise, practise

Even if you are good at maths or are doing/have done a degree with a lot of maths content, don’t assume it will be a walk in the park.  The chances are that you are out of practice with this type of maths and you will be slow. The thing to do is practise, practise, practise.  Your brain will become accustomed to the types of questions and layouts in different sorts of tests, your speed and accuracy will improve, and you will gain in confidence – this will calm your nerves.


There are many free numerical reasoning tests online – here are some links to get you started.  In addition, have a look at the employer’s website as they may give you information about the tests they use, some tips and some practice questions.  Good luck!

Numerical reasoning test

Job test prep

Assessment day

Practice aptitude tests

I can create scenarios similar to those used in assessment centres to help you familiarise yourself with the activities and build your skills and confidence.  Because you will attend the assessment centre knowing what sort of things to expect, it means you will present yourself well and have a much better chance of being selected.  

The one-to-one sessions I offer can take place remotely now (and/or at my home office when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted).   Clients find that booking three separate one-hour sessions work best as this gives time to discuss personal strategies for excelling in different assessment centre activities (for example, aptitude tests, inbox exercises, group work, presentations, interviews), practise their approach, get feedback and review how effective they have been – and repeat!  If you find you cannot fit three sessions in, then fewer will most certainly still be of value.  Look forward to seeing you!