11 Tips for Achieving Top Scores in Graduate Reasoning Tests
Updated 23 June 2021
Graduating from university is no mean feat. You have furthered your knowledge, widened your career options and made yourself more marketable in the job world. However, it is not a golden ticket to a free job.
Among other psychometric tests, employers used Graduate Reasoning Tests such as the GR1 to evaluate potential candidates for their graduate recruitment programs. You may already be familiar with some psychometric tests from university or graduate school, but it will serve you well to learn more specifically about Graduate Reasoning Tests.
What Are Graduate Reasoning Tests?
Graduate tests are generally used to filter out at an early stage those who are not suitable for a program. Rather than judging your education and what you have achieved, they are looking for your suitability for the role in the way you think.
Because competition for graduate program spots can be high, employers use graduate tests to quickly pare down applicants.
While you could be tested at any stage during the process, graduate reasoning tests usually happen:
- Right after you submit your application
- As an add-on to your interview
- Right before or after your interview
These psychometric tests are standardized, impersonal and objective; they aim to create a level playing field for all test takers. Everyone taking the tests gets the same questions and employers like that they are a fair way to assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, regardless of specific experiences or education.
The tests aim to measure your capabilities, aptitude for the job and whether your personality fits in their organization. They are also looking at how you handle the pressure of the graduate tests to see how you will handle pressure in the job or program.
Tips for Achieving Top Scores
There are many ways you can do well on graduate tests.
Because the tests are looking at how you think and react more than your concrete knowledge, practicing cognitive skills, that allow you to put your knowledge into use but are not specific to certain fields, is more important than revising facts.
Here are 11 tips for doing well in graduate reasoning tests.
1. Understand the Most Common Types of Test
Five types of tests could be used by graduate employers:
- Verbal reasoning
- Numerical reasoning
- Abstract reasoning
- Critical thinking
- Personality behavioral tests
Verbal reasoning tests look at an applicant’s ability to understand and dissect verbal content and evaluate written information to form a decision, as well as gauging their knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary.
Candidates are often given a passage to read then answer questions on. The questions are generally answered as true, false or inconclusive.
Verbal reasoning tests can also assess any of the following:
- The ability to evaluate arguments and statements
- Vocabulary, identifying words that have been used wrongly, or testing on similar words
- Comprehension and analysis, drawing logical conclusions based on the text provided
- The ability to extract and summarize key points from written information
While basic math is an essential skill everyone should have, nevertheless you may want to brush up on your work with a calculator and go over basic math functions.
If you are applying to work in financial services, your test may be a bit different. You may be tested on specific financial calculations you would need to do the job.
Numerical reasoning tests typically use a multiple-choice format and have a time limit. You may encounter questions on:
- Numerical and statistical data, such as graphs, charts and tables
- Word problems, which involve translating sentences into a numerical problem to be solved
- Sequences, where you need to work out the relationship between numbers.
You may need to demonstrate skills in calculating the following in your numerical testing:
Critical thinking involves understanding multiple perspectives and biases. These tests judge how an applicant would react to a real situation, likely one they would face on the job. The best thing to do is read the scenario carefully, avoid making assumptions about it and answer as calmly and honestly as you can.
To pass this sort of test, you will need to be able to analyze information such as patterns, information and data to derive the rules they are based on.
These tests are used by companies to discover which applicants will be a good fit in their company, considering work culture and work ethic. There are no incorrect answers to a personality test, although some personalities fit better in certain workplaces than others.
Your test scores may be cross-referenced with other employees and managers to assess your suitability and fit.
2. Find Out What Test Your Prospective Employer Is Likely to Use
If your recruiter does not specify which type of test will be used, you may be able to find out from their website or try searching in this selection of companies to see what tests they use.
It is good to note that different companies may use different test formats as well as providers. Just because you did well in an area with one recruiter does not necessarily mean it will be the same at another, as the different formats can make things harder or easier for you.
If you can, speak with someone who has already done the tests at your potential employer and hopefully they can give some tips on what tests to look at.
3. Understand What Your Employer Is Looking For
Knowing what your potential employer is looking for is a big part of the battle. Make sure you read the job description carefully to understand what they are looking for in an employee.
Look carefully for clues about specifics about the role, what your duties may be and even what the work culture may be like.
If the job description is quite formal, then the workplace is likely quite formal as well. If the description is more relaxed and warmer, the workplace may be as well.
You may also want to speak to others who have interviewed at the same place to get a feel for what they have experienced.
4. Practice With the Right Practice Material
Practicing ahead of time is always a good idea. To make your practice worthwhile, aim to find practice tests that are:
a) Specific to your industry
b) Specific to your employer
c) Realistic and reputable
Some employers may provide some practice aptitude tests. If your employer does not provide a practice test, Psychometric Success has many free practice graduate reasoning tests online that you can try.
You can also practice using JobTestPrep's free tests.
Most tests are done on computers, so be sure that your practice tests are as well.
Find the right tests for the industry you are looking at, but do not leave anything out either. Just because you are looking for a job in finance does not mean you should ignore verbal reasoning.
Look at as many tests available for practice as possible. For example:
5. Identify and Improve Your Weak Areas
As you practice, it may become clear that there are some areas you need to work on. Make a note of those areas or specific questions you struggle with, to go back to later.
For example, if numerical reasoning is slowing you down, then you may need to work at answering your mathematical questions quicker.
6. Learn Effective Time Management
Graduate reasoning tests are often timed and include different sections that may each have their own time limit, so having a good grasp of time management is important.
If you are only given a certain amount of time to answer questions, you need to be good at reading and comprehending the information quickly to answer and move on.
If you know ahead of time how many questions there are and how much time is given, you can then work out how much time you should spend on each question. It can be as little as 30 seconds.
If time management is not a strong point yet, it can be improved by working on practice tests in a timed environment to gain speed.
7. Practice Under Test Conditions
Anyone can write a test given unlimited time while relaxing on their couch. To do well, and not be thrown off on the day of the test, it is a good idea to practice in the conditions in which you will do the test.
Set yourself up at a desk or table, with a timer set for the same allotted time in the real test.
Working under a time limit will give you a feel for the real thing and will help you keep your mind focused on the task at hand.
Put your phone on silent, your home phone off the hook and make sure you are either alone or others know not to interrupt you.
Ensure that you have good internet that is not slow or cutting out as that will affect your timing. This is particularly important for tests that look at reaction times as well as the number of correct answers.
8. Broaden Your Vocabulary
A broader vocabulary is good for many reasons. It will be beneficial in the reading comprehension sections and will help you to interpret and comprehend the material you are asked to read.
Read a wide variety of materials before the test to get used to different styles and formats, as well as the various types of subject matter.
Keep up to date on both relevant industry news as well as terminology used in your career. Work on word puzzles to pass some time and be on the lookout everywhere for misspelled words. The more you notice them, the more you will learn new words as you look up the correct spellings.
9. Practice Your Arithmetic
Everyone thinks they know basic math, but it is always a good idea to brush up where you can.
Review your basic math skills and do some activities to get reacquainted such as the numerical tests available here.
Try working on math puzzles such as Sudoku, or even doing simple multiplication and division while out shopping for groceries.
Reintroduce yourself to a calculator and make sure you know what all the function buttons do. Also, ensure you practice mental arithmetic as well in case the test does not allow calculators.
10. Develop Critical Thinking Habits
Try putting yourself in different workplace scenarios and then working out what you would do. This can be an exercise best done with a friend who can provide you with feedback on your answers.
Even in everyday life as you see situations happen, ask yourself what you would do in that situation. This will broaden your group of scenario expertise and thinking.
Also start to consider the biases of any media that you consume, becoming aware of different perspectives to begin engaging critically with information.
11. Develop Healthy Habits
Developing healthy habits will help you have the optimum cognitive ability as well as staying calm under pressure.
- Get enough sleep, both while practicing and the night before your tests.
- Eat healthily; do not load up on sugar that can cause you to crash.
- Make sure you have all your materials on the day. Make sure your calculator has fresh batteries and that you have a pen, pencil and scratch paper. You may even want a watch or clock to keep an eye on the time.
- Turn off your phone. Nothing can interrupt your concentration more than notifications going off on your phone; even on silent mode, a flashing screen is a distraction.
- Check your internet connection. If you are doing the test at home, make sure the internet is working well with no glitches.
- Stay calm, even if faced with a tough question. Practice relaxation techniques, such as counted breathing (breathing in for four, hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four, repeat).
- Stay well hydrated as it will help you think.
- Keep an eye on the time and know when you need to move on to another question or section.
Taking note of these tips should help you out on the big day.
Graduate reasoning tests can be difficult, but with practice, they can be completed well.
If graduate programs are your goal then the tips in this article should help you out.
Practicing is key in all areas. Familiarize yourself with the tests and work on the areas that you need to brush up on.
Remain calm and focused and you will do well.