Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test – Comprehensive Preparation Guide with Sample Questions for Practice
It may be quick, but it’s deadly. The CCAT, or Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test, is a quickfire way for employers to test the skills of new potential employees. You have to be on your toes to complete the timed test with ease. But while this is daunting, it is perfectly possible.
And with some practice to get used to the style of the questions first, you will be on the road to landing a new role in no time. In this article, we will go through everything you need to know to pass the CCAT test with flying colours. We will go through what to expect, sample questions, a practice structure, and common mistakes. You got this!
Table of Contents
What Is the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test?
So what exactly is the CCAT? It is a pre-employment test that is designed to test the aptitude of a candidate. The CCAT is usually used for roles that involve problem-solving and critical thinking. There are 50 questions that are asked with a time limit of 15 minutes. The test will include three different categories of questions; spatial (abstract) reasoning, math and logic, and verbal.
The categories and questions are specifically designed to measure your aptitude and skills for thinking on your feet, solving problems, and thinking critically. They will help the employer determine how you learn and how you may react in different situations within the role.
You do not need any previous knowledge beforehand, but familiarising yourself with the format and undertaking practice tests can certainly help boost your score.
What Types of Questions Can I Expect on the CCAT?
There are three different categories of questions that will come up on the CCAT; spatial (abstract) reasoning, math and logic, and verbal. Within these categories, there are typical question types that you are likely to face. It is best to familiarise yourself with all these question types so that there are no surprises going in.
Spatial or Abstract Reasoning
At around 22% of the test, the spatial or abstract reasoning questions are designed to evaluate how well you can think about objects in three dimensions. You may be asked to look at abstract forms like shapes and draw conclusions using limited information. The questions can involve identifying rules and patterns in sequences. The types of questions you may find in this category are:
- Next in series
- Odd one out
The mathematics section of the test will be around 34% of the whole thing. This will be testing basic mathematical calculation skills, numerical literacy, and the ability to solve mathematical problems under pressure.
You may be shown data in the form of a table or graph which you will need to analyze as well as draw conclusions. Or you might need to figure out the calculation needed to solve a problem, and then perform it. The types of math questions you may find in the CCAT are:
- Tables and graphs
- Word problems
- Number or letter series
Logic questions may make up around 10% of your CCAT test. They evaluate your capacity to use logical reasoning to determine the correct answer to a question or draw conclusions from given information or facts. The types of questions in the category of logic can include:
- Seating Arrangements
- Error checking
34% of the test will consist of verbal reasoning questions. These usually have to do with how well you comprehend and understand words, grammar, vocabulary, and meanings. It may evaluate your comprehension of a text and ability to pick out relevant information and key points. The types of questions you can find in this section are:
- Sentence completion
Sample Questions for the CCAT
So now let’s dive into a look at some specific sample questions in detail. We will take a look at one question under each of the main question types.
First, let’s take a look at an example maths question. It will help give you an idea of what kind of question to expect as well as the most efficient way to tackle it. Remember that it is the time limit on this test that makes it so tricky. It is of vital importance to not just answer questions correctly, but to answer in the fastest time possible.
A train travels its route from start to finish in 5 hours. Half of the way it travels at A mph and the remainder it travels at 3A mph. How long will it take the train to complete the whole route if it proceeds at a constant speed of 3A mph?
Option 1) 3 hours
Option 2) 2.5 hours
Option 3) 1.25 hours
Option 4) 4 hours
Method and answer:
You may first be drawn to solve this question using the most common, two-equation formula used to calculate travel. This will certainly get you to the correct answer and looks like this:
X = V x T
(I) 5 = (x/2)/A + (x/2)/3A
(II) ? = x/3A
While this will get you to the solution, with the test’s limited time limit, you will need to use a more efficient method to have a chance of answering all questions.
Let’s take a look at an alternative way to find a solution instead.
Take a look at exactly what information we are given and asked to find. In this question we are not actually asked to find the distance travelled by the train. That shows us that it is possible to solve the question without having to use the distance (x).
Let’s break down the two scenarios, both the scenario we are given and the outcome we want. This way we can create an equation to calculate how long it took the train to travel each half of the journey.
Scenario 1 – Second half at 3A speed
If the first half of the journey was travelled at speed A and the second half at speed 3A, we know that the time it took to travel the first half equals 3t (time) and the second half equals t.
Therefore, the train travels the second half 3 times faster than the first half, aka in one-third of the time.
That means that the overall time to complete the walk is 3t + t = 4t. (Remember that this is 5 hours).
Scenario 2 – Second half at 3A speed
In this scenario we want to calculate the time it would take for the train to travel at speed 3A the whole way round. Therefore if the first half of the journey was travelled at speed 3A and the second half was travelled also at speed 3A, we can deduce that it took time (t) to travel both the first half and the second. So we know that the overall time of the journey equals t + t = 2t.
Compare this to scenario 1 which equaled 4t, and we can deduce that scenario 2, which equals 2t, takes exactly half the time to complete.
That makes the answer 5 / 2 = 2.5 hours.
So the correct answer is option 2.
Now let’s take a look at an example of the type of verbal question you may be asked in your CCAT. This will help you get an idea of what to expect. The below question is a fill in the blank question that will test your understanding of text and specific vocabulary.
Fill in the blanks with the set of words from the list that is most appropriate. Make sure to choose the words that make the most sense and align with the meaning of the sentence.
A free healthy snack scheme has been __________ in the office and boosts wellbeing and ________ at work.
Option 1) appreciated – actively
Option 2) applauded – downtrodden
Option 3) implemented – concentration
Option 4) rejected – sickness
Option 5) suggest – motivation
Method and answer:
The verbal tests are often the most simple for many people that take the CCAT. For this reason it is recommended to practise solving these as quickly as possible to leave yourself more time for things like complex calculations. Let’s go over three main areas to look out for that can help you identify the right answer as quickly as possible.
Tone can be one of the best indicators to instantly whittle down your options. In this example, we can see that the words ‘healthy’ and ‘boosts wellbeing’ are positive words. That means the gaps must also be filled with positive words. That means straight away we can discard options 2 and 4.
Tenses and conjugations
The next key thing to look out for is what tense your verbs are in. We can see that the first blank is preceded with ‘has been…’, we therefore know instantly we are looking for a verb in the past participle (usually with ed at the end). We can therefore eradicate option 5.
Parts of speech
Finally here’s where you need to know your verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. We can see that the snack scheme boosts wellbeing which is a noun. We, therefore, know that the next blank will also be a noun. Hence why we can eliminate options 1 and 2.
Through a process of elimination, we can affirm that the correct answer is option 3.
Now for the abstract category. The abstract questions usually involve visually interpreting information. This can mean identifying patterns in sequences of shapes and choosing which would be next in the sequence. These types of questions take a lot of practice as there are many different variables to consider in different patterns. The key is to familiarise yourself with them.
Method and answer:
From left to right in the grid above there you can identify various aspects to the pattern. Along each row, the black stars rotate clockwise around the smiley face. The open space alternates between being above and below the face. As you go down the columns there is a new star added on each row but they continue to rotate and alternate in the same way. Therefore the correct answer is C.
Now let’s take a look at the kind of question that might come up in the logical category. The logical tests often involve being given some selective information and deducing truths through logical reasoning. Pay careful attention to these, particularly the wording used. They are deliberately tricky and often designed to catch you out.
Assume the first two statements are true. Is the final statement: 1) True, 2) False, or 3) Unknown based on the information you have been given?
Everybody loves John.
John loves only me.
Everybody loves me.
Option 1) True
Option 2) False
Option 3) Unknown
Method and answer:
Most people would instantly jump to the conclusion that the answer is unknown. How can people’s love for John give away any information on people’s love for me? However, the answer is actually option 1 – true.
How can this be? Logical reasoning tests are made to be taken very literally.
If everybody loves John, that includes John himself. If John loves only me, then it is possible to deduce that I am John. Therefore you can deduce that the final statement is actually correct.
How Hard Is the CCAT Test?
While the individual questions on the CCAT test are not overly difficult, it is the fast 15-minute time limit that makes the CCAT a real challenge. Only around 1% of people actually complete all the questions on the test. With such high pressure, it also means that you are more likely to make mistakes. Time management here is key to getting a good score and this can be helped by learning estimation and problem solving simplifying techniques.
Can You Study for the CCAT?
While technically all the information you need to answer each question is provided in the test, practice is vital for achieving a high score. As the questions are quite different from a classic pop quiz, it is important to be familiar with them before you start. Doing practice tests online against the clock can also help you improve your speed.
What Are the Biggest CCAT Test Challenges?
There are a few common challenges that people face when taking the CCAT that can hinder them getting a high score. Check them out below to make sure you don’t fall into the trap.
One of the main pitfalls people face while taking the CCAT test is making simple mistakes. With the pressure of the timer and questions that are designed to catch you out, many people make more mistakes than they realise. To combat this, practice makes perfect.
There are also plenty of tips and hacks to learn the simplest and fastest solutions to each question type as well as tips on avoiding mistakes. If this is something you are particularly worried about, check out the CCAT prep pack from Job Test Prep which includes key information on this.
Another challenge is managing your time properly and making sure you allocate enough time for all the questions. Reaching number 50 is quite uncommon but aim to get through at least 40 questions. Wasting time on one question is a common error.
If you know you can’t get it, take a guess and move on. But at the same time don’t be too careless and move on before checking for mistakes. Basically you need to strike the right balance between too fast and two slow. One of the only ways to nail this is by doing a significant number of timed practice tests.
Nerves and Anxiety
Another thing that can get in the way of achieving a high score is pre-test nerves and anxiety. A good way to combat this is to be super prepared for what’s coming. Take some simulation tests before the day so that you feel comfortable with the layout and possible questions. This will help lower nervous mistakes and help you keep a clear head.
How to Improve Your CCAT Test Results for Tomorrow?
Test tomorrow and not prepared? Don’t worry, there is still time to significantly boost your score. While you may not be able to dive deeply into each topic you can certainly take some practice tests, read a thorough test guide for all the question types and learn some of the quickest ways to solve problems.
The CCAT prep pack from Job Test Prep has everything you need to improve your score. Even in 3 or 4 hours, you can expect significantly improved results. So take a deep breath and get to it!
Where Can I Take a Free Sample Practice CCAT Test?
Head over to jobtestprep.com and take their free test right here. If you feel you need some extra and more in-depth practice, they also have a number of paid tests on offer as well as the full prep pack.
So whether this is your first or your 20th CCAT, whether it is tomorrow or in 3 weeks, you now have a good idea of what’s coming. The key to a great score is practice, practice, practice so don’t waste time, start practicing, and best of luck.
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Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.