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Engineering Aptitude Test – How To Prepare?

Last Updated on April 10, 2022

Engineering is a well-respected profession with numerous sectors that attract many applicants. It is obviously a technical and practical profession, and you will be expected to undergo some technical forms of testing. You may also need to sit some other more traditional aptitude tests such as numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning.

Aptitude tests that measure technical skills fall into several categories; mechanical reasoning, spatial reasoning and diagrammatic reasoning. You may encounter other tests such as fault diagnosis as part of the specialised testing process. Aptitude questions based on engineering content will assume a certain level of knowledge on your part.

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Numerical reasoning is a skill valued by engineering employers who will want to know that you are able to identify and analyse important elements of numerical data. You will not need to have outside knowledge for these more generic aptitude tests, and neither will you need prior knowledge for the verbal reasoning tests you may have to take.

Read on to learn all about the engineering aptitude test, how to prepare, and where to find the best practice materials to help you to help pass your upcoming examinations.

What are the engineering aptitude tests?

The main types of mechanical aptitude tests are:

  • Mechanical Reasoning tests
  • Spatial Ability tests
  • Diagrammatic Reasoning tests

These tests also evaluate your ability to:

  • Think critically
  • Detect and analyse systematic themes in data
  • Pay attention to detail

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What is on the engineering aptitude tests?

Let us explore the mechanical aptitude tests in more detail:

Mechanical Reasoning test

Your knowledge of physical and mechanical principles will be assessed in this test. In contrast to many other reasoning tests, which tend to be more skills-based, the mechanical reasoning tests are knowledge based. You will need to know the mechanical principles relevant to each of the questions asked. The topics you are likely to encounter are:

  • Forces and motion
  • Electricity – circuits, voltage and magnets
  • Tools and terminologies

The test will ask you to apply some of these principles to mechanisms such as pulleys, gears and levers.

Spatial Ability test

This part of the testing process assesses how well you can manipulate shapes.

Typically in a test such as ‘Saville Consulting’s spatial reasoning aptitude test,’ you will be presented with four shapes in every question and asked which shape is different to the others. This may seem straightforward, but the shapes will be shown in different forms and rotations. You will need to look at how the shapes work, how they look from different views and angles, and rotate or deconstruct them to find the answer.

Get familiar with the style of questioning in this test and take some time to practise similar test questions. This will be the key to your ability to answer questions quickly and efficiently on the day of your test. Job Test Prep can provide you with resources and sample questions to help you do this.

Diagrammatic Reasoning test

This test will have in a diagrammatic format, as its name suggests. A series of diagrams will be given, and it will be your task to use a systematic and analytical approach to evaluate the processes shown in the diagram series. You may be asked to find a missing component or carry on a sequence of shapes.

You may be given a flow chart and asked to infer a set of rules, for example, and then apply those rules to a new situation in order to understand it. The problems are often complex in nature and will require you to work logically and carefully to find a solution.

As with all of these tests, their unfamiliarity can often be the most challenging aspect, and preparation will give you the best advantage.

Numerical Reasoning test

The numerical reasoning test for an engineering role is likely to be challenging and of a high difficulty level. This stands to reason as many engineering careers use mathematical skills to solve problems and analyse data. Prospective employers will want to be sure that your mathematical skills are sufficient for you to be effective in your chosen career.

You will be given a range of questions containing numbers in different formats. It will be up to you to identify the relevant information in order to answer the questions. Question types are likely to include technical reports, analysis reports, and performance figures.

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Verbal Reasoning test

These tests will not be as important as the numerical or mechanical aptitude tests but will be used to assess your basic English language skills. Communication is a key skill for any job, no matter how practical it may be, and engineering is no exception. You may often have to deal with customers during your role.

You may encounter verbal comprehension tests within this part of the application process. You will receive a short passage of text containing around 60-100 words. You will have around 30-40 seconds per question to give an answer. The questions themselves are relatively simple but will assess your speed as well as your comprehension abilities.

You are showing that you can quickly learn a new thinking process throughout the test. Accuracy and speed will demonstrate your ability to adapt and learn to your future employers.

Logical Reasoning test

These tests evaluate your ability to understand a pattern of symbols, make assumptions and complete the set.

Under the category of logical reasoning, you may also encounter inductive reasoning tests. Here you will be given a statement and then asked which conclusion is the most probable from the examples given. The conclusions may be less than certain, but often you will be asked to rank the conclusions from Weak to Strong as opposed to simply True or False.

For example:
The plants got wet when it rained: therefore, the plants always get wet when it rains.

The statement is mainly conclusive. However, there are still some un-mentioned factors that could exist. In this example, the statement could be considered to be most likely True or a Strong argument.

Fault Diagnosis test

These tests are used especially for engineers wanting to enter sectors of the profession involved in electrical or electronic specialisms.

Presented with a problem, it will be your task to eliminate all possible options until you can diagnose the fault using a process of logic. Electronic systems can be prone to faults, and often these faults need to be located and fixed quickly.

These assessments will be a real test of your logical and abstract reasoning abilities. On many occasions in the engineering world, faults can be elusive and with no obvious cause. Therefore, being able to effectively use a process of elimination in such situations is a key skill.

You may receive a mixture of diagrams that are used in switches. You will need to determine how the switch operates and identify any mistakes in the system. You do not need prior technical knowledge for such questions apart from the ability to problem-solve. The shapes and symbols will appear in a flowchart or grid format.

These tests are around 18 minutes long for a total of 36 questions. It is unlikely that you will have been assessed in such a way previously. This, coupled with the significant time pressure, can pose quite a challenge if you are not adequately prepared or familiar with the style of test questions.

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How can I prepare for my engineering aptitude test?

Because of the varied range of assessments involved in an engineering aptitude test, it is vital that you adequately prepare. Practice tests will enable you to become familiar with the test formats and style of questions.

Whether you have just finished further education or your degree studies, it may still have been some time since you revisited your basic science and maths knowledge. You are not likely to need advanced knowledge in either of these areas. But, you should at least be comfortable with the basic principles of physics and be able to complete maths problems involving the four operations, percentages and ratios.

It is important to practise under the same exam conditions that you would expect on your test day. This will make sure that you identify where your weaknesses may lie and sharpen your skills sufficiently before your test date. Most aptitude tests are multiple-choice and completed under strict time constraints.

The more prepared you are and the more confidently you can work without unwanted surprises, the better your chances of success. However, whilst you may need to work quickly, it is important not to rush as careless mistakes can occur.

Try to step out of your comfort zone and brush up on subject areas that may be in your weaker areas of competence. That way, if you do encounter questions about more challenging topics, you are much less likely to be caught out.

Job Test Prep has created a pack containing a complete set of the expected tests, including numerical reasoning, diagrammatic, inductive and abstract reasoning, fault finding, mechanical and spatial tests.

Different companies and organisations will provide different test formats, and Job Test Prep has extensive knowledge of the types provided by the different organisations. For example, Saville provides mechanical, diagrammatic and spatial reasoning tests, as does CEB’s SHL, along with fault finding and fault diagnosis, numerical computation and verbal comprehension.

Doing your research when applying for a role, finding out about the company and which test providers they favour, will mean that you can really practise those tests. You may be able to find out this information on the company website or by speaking to a recruiter.

In summary, the better prepared you are, the better your chances of success. Good preparation means you are more likely to stand out amongst your competitors. Job Test Prep can use their experience to help you with this preparation and secure your dream role!

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Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organisations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.

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