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Numerical Reasoning Tests: The Ultimate Guide (Includes Free Practice Numerical Reasoning Test and 8 Top Tips For Success)

This guide includes practice numerical reasoning tests and will tell you how to succeed in clear step-by-step detail. You’ll also find expert tips and secret techniques that will boost your chances of success. Let’s get started!

Four useful starting-point resources

  • You can listen to my podcast on numerical reasoning success here.
  • You can practise numerical reasoning tests used by employers here and here.
  • You can find my verbal reasoning success guide here and my logical reasoning guide here.
  • Lastly, you can find my Ultimate Interview & Assessment Day Guide here – it’s filled with useful advice and resources that will help you succeed on the big day.

‘What is a numerical reasoning test?’

A numerical reasoning test is a form of psychometric aptitude testing that is widely used by corporate employers in interviews and assessment centres. If you’re applying for a role at a big corporate employer, it’s highly likely there will be some form of numerical testing.

practice-numerical-reasoning-tests

‘So the test is basically measuring my maths ability?’

Broadly, yes. Your ability to interpret and manipulate mathematical data is the main area of assessment, but the test also gives employers insight into your overall intelligence, judgement and business acumen.

‘What should I expect during a numerical reasoning test?’

You will be required to answer questions by interpreting figures and data that are (usually) presented in statistical tables & graphs.

For each question you are given a number of options to choose from, but it’s important to remember that one, and only one, of the options is correct in each case.

‘Are all numerical reasoning tests the same?’

No. They all assess very similar criteria, but there are variations in the tests themselves. Find out beforehand who your numerical reasoning test was created by (SHL, Saville, Talent Q, Kenexa etc) and to give yourself the best chance of success you should practice numerical reasoning tests created by that company. Your prospective employer’s HR department, or the agency who is representing you will be able to give you this information. (Don’t feel ‘pushy’ for requesting this, it’s a fair and reasonable question for you to pose!)

‘Can you show me a practice numerical reasoning test example?’

Sure, here’s a couple of practice numerical reasoning test questions from a real assessment centre test:

Numerical-Reasoning-Psychometric-Test

Question 1 – Which newspaper was read by a higher percentage of females than males in Year 3?

      • The Tribune
      • The Herald
      • Daily News
      • Daily Echo
      • The Daily Chronicle

Question 2 – What was the combined readership of the Daily Chronicle, the Daily Echo and The Tribune in Year 1?

      • 10.6
      • 8.4
      • 9.5
      • 12.2
      • 7.8

Here’s another example from a practice numerical reasoning test: 

Practice-Numerical-Reasoning-Test

Question 3 – In Year 3, how much more than Italy did Germany spend on computer imports?

      • 650 million
      • 700 million
      • 750 million
      • 800 million
      • 850 million

Question 4 – If the amount spent on computer imports into the UK in Year 5 was 20% lower than in Year 4, what was spent in Year 5?

      • 1,080 million
      • 1,120 million
      • 1,160 million
      • 1,220 million
      • 1,300 million

If you want to see more example questions with detailed explanations & score reports go here.

‘Great, I’m ready to take a free practice numerical reasoning test now!’

Hold on soldier! Before you practice your numerical reasoning test let’s look at some proven ways to succeed.

7 Expert Tips For Numerical Reasoning Test Success

1) Study the information at least TWICE

It is absolutely vital that you fully understand the information you’re being presented with before you begin answering questions. Small assumptions can catch you out, don’t forget this test is also checking your eye for detail.

2) Stay calm

Nothing will damage your performance more than losing your focus during the test. Numerical reasoning tests are timed and some people find this applies an element of pressure that makes it very hard for them to concentrate.

Two articles of mine that will be a huge help to you here are:

3) Manage your time carefully

Most numerical reasoning tests last for around 20 minutes. As with most assessment centre activities it’s vital that you manage your time carefully. You should always scan ahead and see how many questions you need to complete in the time you have available.

As a rough rule of thumb, you should spend about 90 seconds on each question. If you are really stuck on a question don’t waste time trying to figure it out. During the 5 minutes you spend pondering one tricky question you could correctly answer 3-4 others and secure a much higher overall score in your numerical reasoning test . 

4) Practise as much as possible before your real test

Numerical reasoning is the easiest assessment centre activity to prepare for because the preparation is so clear-cut. If you put the time in to prepare for this test you will pass, that’s not something you can say with such certainty for other assessment exercises. Practise, practise, practise!

PRO TIP: You can practise numerical reasoning tests used by employers here and here (these tests aren’t free, but they are a must for candidates who want to do absolutely everything to guarantee success).

Buy some numerical reasoning books from Amazon to brush up on your maths, here’s a good selection to get you started.

Listen to my podcast on numerical reasoning test success, a companion to this article, by clicking here.

Be sure to check out my Ultimate Interview & Assessment Day Guide – it’s filled with useful advice and resources that will help you.

5) If possible use your own calculator 

Using your own calculator that you’re comfortable with and fully understand how to use will save you valuable seconds in a numerical reasoning test. A scientific calculator with the ability to use macros is ideal, but in the absence of this just use a big calculator with a clear screen and large buttons. Simplicity and ease-of-use are the key here; don’t lose sight of the fact you’re being timed against other candidates!

assessment day

6) Make no assumptions

Don’t factor in real-life data that you know proves or disproves an element of a question. You absolutely must take the numerical reasoning test literally – if it isn’t included in the data you’re shown then you can’t include it in your decision-making process for the question.

7) Focus only on the sought data

The answer to most questions will be in only a sub-section of the data you are shown. (You can often disregard 80% of the data that’s presented.) The key is knowing where to look and this is part of the test; your data-selection skills are being measured as well as your core mathematic ability.

8) Fully understand how to calculate percentages

Do you fully understand percentages? It’s surprising how many people think they do, but don’t. It’s important that you know this because it forms a large part of every numerical reasoning test.

As a quick test: Do you know how to strip a retrospective percentage increase out? (Eg for after-sales tax, such as VAT?)

For example, if I bought £72.14 of fuel for my car and needed to calculate how much that would be without VAT what would I do? Would I calculate 17.5% of £72.14 (£12.62) and deduct it from the total? This would give me a pre-VAT figure of £59.52. This would be incorrect. 

This is the most common mistake made by candidates in a numerical reasoning test. Why is it wrong? Because the calculation took a 17.5% measure of the after-tax figure.

The correct way to strip out the VAT increase (or any after-the-fact percentage increase) is to divide the original number by, in this example, 1.175. (The 1.175 represents the 17.5% VAT, but you could use 1.52 to represent 52% or 1.255 to represent 25.5% etc.) So in this example the original after-tax amount was £72.14 which when divided by 1.175 gives us the correct figure of £61.40.

Here’s two simple videos that will help you further:

Numerical reasoning test: How to calculate a percentage increase

Numerical reasoning test: How to calculate a percentage decrease

‘Ok, I’m ready to practice numerical reasoning tests.’

Great, let’s do it! Why not get yourself a drink of water and clear your head for 5 minutes before you begin? Both practice numerical reasoning tests below have a 15 minute time limit – try and ensure you’re free from distraction (put your phone on ‘silent’, etc) so you can focus wholly on the test and get an accurate result.

Numercial Reasoning Practice Test

How did it go? Well I hope? If not maybe you should try another:

Numerical Reasoning Practice Test

What tools or resources will I need for my numerical reasoning test?

The Casio MX8 calculator is a business workhorse and sells for around £4 on Amazon UK. The Canon LS-827 is similarly priced on Amazon USA.

Trust me, having a large basic calculator with a clear display and big buttons is a real help when you’re doing a timed numerical reasoning test and under pressure to outpace the other candidates who are your competition. (It may sounds pedantic, but these things are often very close. If you’re serious about doing well in this test then you’ll appreciate that literally every second counts.)

Three good books that will help you succeed

1) ‘Now you’ve been shortlisted: Your guide to being successful at interviews and assessment centres’ Amazon (UK) | Amazon (USA)

2) “You’re Hired! Psychometric Tests: Proven tactics to help you pass” Amazon (UK) | Amazon (USA)

3) “Practice & Pass: Numeracy tests” Amazon (UK) | Amazon (USA)

More articles of mine that will help you

I’ve written tons of other articles that will help you succeed at your interview or assessment centre:

Good luck!

I hope you enjoyed this free numerical reasoning success guide? I’d love to hear your feedback and to learn how your numerical reasoning test goes, so please do get in touch and let me know. Thanks and good luck!

assessment centre