Hints and Tips

Preparing for Online Tests

Normally when you are invited to complete the tests, you will have a couple of days at least to complete them, and you may also be given some practice or guidance sheets to help familiarise yourself with the format.  Do not think that you have to complete then there and then.  Be mindful of the deadline, but take the opportunity to familiarise yourself with them.

The key thing is practice. Familiarity with the format and time frame of a cognitive ability test will help you, especially if you’ve not completed them before, or have not done them for a while. Get used to the style of question and start timing yourself as they will be completed against the clock in order to provide an additional challenge.

The most commonly used types of cognitive ability tests are verbal and numerical reasoning.  Below are some tips to help you to prepare for them.

Improving your Verbal Abilities

  • Look the meaning of words and think if alternative words with the same meaning.
  • Review grammar rules
  • Discuss associations between words or types of words with a friend.
  • Improve vocabulary by completing crosswords, word games, etc.
  • Read newspapers, articles in the Internet, books and journals to improve ability to understand and interpret written material.

 Improving your Numerical Abilities

  • Work with numerical data or materials.
  • Complete calculations with and without a calculator.
  • Look at tables, graphs and charts and interpret their meaning in words.
  • ‘Eyeball’ data by looking for patterns and predicting future trends.
  • Read financial reports in newspapers and journals.


The following general tips may also help you to prepare:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before the assessment.
  • Make sure you are wearing any glasses, contact lenses or hearing aids you may require.
  • The time you take to complete a question can affect your overall score significantly; so keep that in mind and, once you’ve started a question; try not to linger. Have a stopwatch or timer handy.  On some tests they are visible, on others they are not.  It helps you to keep track of how you are doing.
  • Be prepared with scrap paper if doing an online test – you are allowed to use it
  • Work swiftly but carefully- some answers are there to trick you.
  • Having said that, it’s worth reading a question twice – or even three times – if you feel confused. Try to avoid guessing your answers. Although it’s tempting to guess when you’re faced with a difficult multiple-choice question under pressure, it’s far better to take a bit longer to answer and know that you’ve followed a clear and logical thought process, rather than to answer too quickly and get it wrong.
  • If you can, calculate the maximum amount of time to be allocated to a question and stick to it using your timer.
  • Try to avoid using any general knowledge when answering questions. Everything you need to answer the question should be included in the information given.