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How To Prepare for the California Psychological Inventory Test?

Last Updated on March 21, 2022

The CPI is used by employers seeking to recruit leaders. Using the test allows them to assess applicants’ leadership potential. The test can also be used to develop employees’ leadership skills and when an employer has to make decisions on which employees to select and retain in the workforce.

Wondering how you can prepare for the test? Read on to find out the most effective ways to pass the California Psychological Inventory test!

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About the California Psychological Inventory (CPI)

The CPI, more correctly known as the Myers-Briggs CPI, has a long history of helping employers make accurate decisions about their workforces. First published in 1956, the test sets out to give an account of the testee’s personal and work-related behavior. Questions posed in the test can reveal what motivates employees. It can also give an insight into their thinking styles.

Developed by psychologists, the test is a useful tool to decide how to help employees improve their workplace performance.

To get an idea of what to expect in a personality test, try a free sample test here.

What is on the CPI test?

There are different CPI tests:

  • CPI 434
  • CPI 260

They each look at various aspects of the testee’s personality.

The two tests don’t only help companies get a better understanding of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. They also help the employees get a better understanding of themselves and of how they relate to other people.

What is the format of the CPI test and what does it measure?

CPI 434 has 434 questions that make up the complete test. The person taking the test can expect it to reveal details about their:

  • Interpersonal style and their social interaction abilities
  • Maturity
  • Creativity
  • Leadership skills
  • Career ambitions
  • Strength of mind as well as other thought processes

CPI 260 is so-called because it contains 260 questions selected from the original 434.

This test focuses directly on interpersonal qualities as they apply to the workplace. It looks at the employee’s abilities to manage themselves, deal with others, take on leadership, and their motivation and thinking styles.

On completion of the tests, reports are furnished, 3 in the case of the first test and 2 in the case of the second.

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How is the CPI test scored?

Twenty different scales of personality are measured in the test, making doing the test a little daunting for the person taking it. Knowing that your personality can be categorized via a 45 to 60-minute test can be a little fear-inducing.

But on a positive note, companies also use these tests to identify talent that may have been overlooked in the workplace.

And as with all tests, adequate preparation can put you in a position to shine in the test.

Is the CPI test hard?

A short answer is that all tests are hard, but all tests can be prepared for. Adequate preparation on examples of the tests takes away the level of difficulty that comes with doing a test for the first time.

However, personality tests (learn more about them here) come with their own difficulties. There are no right or wrong answers. Instead, you are presenting the tester with your personality.

And the tester is not thinking about your likeability! He is thinking about your personality in relation to your workplace responsibilities.

Personality is measured based on behavior. You can expect to be assessed through questions that look at your likely behavior.

CPI test practice questions

Let’s try the following sample questions.

Question 1

To what extent do you agree with the following statement?

“I am a rule obedient person.”

Do you 1 Strongly disagree, 2 3 4 5 6 or 7 Strongly agree?

Try doing the question without thinking too much about it. Look at your answer. Does it portray an ideal workplace personality?

Now try tweaking your answer. Do you like the personality showing up in your answers? Would you promote that personality?

Question 2

Read the following statement and give your answer.

“After being by myself for a while I strongly feel the need for other people.”

Do you 1 Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree?

Again, different people will give different answers to this question. It is not possible to say if one answer is correct or incorrect.

However, it is possible to say which personality best suits a particular role. Try deciding what role the person who answers ‘Strongly Agree’ might be best suited to. Or do you think it might be better to give middle-of-the-road answers avoiding any answer that uses Strongly?

These questions themselves are not exactly difficult. But if you need to present a specific personality, adequate preparation on questions like these will help you ace the test.

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How can I prepare for the CPI test?

Equipping yourself with accurate information about the test and practicing on sample tests modeled on the real one is your best course of action.

Doing the test, you need to be familiar with the format and have a clear understanding of how the test is going to produce your personality profile.

For this, we recommend using the services of Job Test Prep, a leader in the field of preparing people for work-related tests.

From them, you will get accurate information about the test as well as a test prep pack.

The prep pack contains:

  • Sample tests modeled on the real ones
  • Detailed explanations of questions and answers
  • A means of checking your scores as you prepare

To get an idea of a typical personality test, you can also try your hand at a free sample personality test.

CPI test questions unpacked!

Ensure you are clear on why you are doing the test. Is there a promotion coming up at work? What type of personality is required to fill that position? Are there desirable personality traits for the position? Are there any traits that could see a person not getting the position?

Some positions require you to be more dominant than others. For example, think of managerial positions. When dealing with the statement, “I’m always the dominant person in the group,” you may be asked to answer on a scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree you will have to decide on what level of dominance is appropriate for the role.

Conversely, someone working in a customer-facing role might want to appear less dominant than someone in a managerial position. So you need to focus on the role in question when undergoing personality testing.

Try to get a mental picture of the ideal candidate for your desired position.

To make it easier to visualize that persona, flick your eyes over this list of some of the traits the test is assessing:
Conformance/ Social Conformity

  • Independence
  • Sociability
  • Dominance
  • Managerial Qualities
  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Work Orientation
  • Self-Control
  • Your attitude to achievement

Right now, you may be finding this exercise challenging. However, after sufficient practice on sample tests, you will be in a position to create the desired persona.

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Use your sample tests to prepare

The test is short, 45 – 60 minutes. But don’t allow that to lull you into a false sense of security. Its very shortness means that you will be working under intense pressure for that length of time.

Use your sample tests as the very backbone of your preparation. This will allow you:

  • To learn to work within the time frame. Doing the tests, you will learn to gauge how much time you can devote to each question.
  • To become more familiar with the style of questioning and answering from the multiple-choice format and to leave no space for unpleasant surprises in the real tests.
  • To monitor your progress from test to test. Make sure you check your scores after each test and identify anything that may be harming the scores. Make sure you weed this out before it becomes a habit that might reappear on test day.

Allow yourself to make mistakes at the beginning of your preparation. Mistakes are good when we learn from them and don’t allow them to discourage us. Catching them on time will prevent you from allowing them to become a habit that might plague you for the entirety of your preparation.

When preparing for personality tests, you may find a particular trait very difficult to pin down. To counteract this, Job Test Prep can supply you with tests focused on one particular trait.

Put a preparation plan in place

Routine is central to solid test preparation, especially if you are working a demanding job at the same time.

To prepare effectively, try the following tips:

  • Designate a space as your preparation spot for the duration.
  • Work to a timetable but ensure you leave the day before the test free for last-minute reviews and to rest before the real exam.
  • Use proven study techniques of the type your school teachers may have spoken about. Work in short blocks of time. 50 minutes or under, followed by 10-minute breaks before you return to your desk is the recommended pattern for effective study.
  • Build in ten minutes of revision time at the end of each day’s work. This will help you retain material.
  • Remember, a healthy mind in a healthy body. Sleep, nutrition exercise are essential for anybody preparing for an exam. Your brain will work more effectively if you add these to your arsenal.
  • Don’t forget to read the study tips that come with your test prep pack.

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Tips for test day!

Having done the preparation, it is vital to capitalize on all that work. Approach the test day well-rested and clear-headed.

Ensure you:

  • Avoid any pre-exam cramming marathons
  • Have stress-busting techniques to fall back on before starting the test
  • Realize that your performance is all that matters now.
  • Are confident. You have done the work and deserve to ace this.

And finally, get in there and give it your best!

Are you preparing for the California Psychological Inventory test? Go here for the resources that will help you ace it.

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Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.

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