In this Mechanical Comprehension Test Guide you’ll find practice tests, coaching videos & 5 Top Tips for success. Let’s get started!
3 useful starting-point resources
1) You can get hold of practice mechanical comprehension tests here.
2) Take a look at our aptitude testing page here – It will be a treasure trove for you in preparing for your mechanical comprehension test.
3) Check out my Ultimate Interview & Assessment Day Guide, it’s filled with tips, tricks and insider secrets that will help you succeed on the big day.
Ok, let’s quickly cover the basics and then we’ll get into the detail of how to pass your mechanical comprehension test.
What is a mechanical comprehension test?
A mechanical comprehension test is an aptitude assessment that’s widely used by employers to assess candidates for technical or engineering roles.
(Occasionally, mechanical comprehension tests are also used for non-engineering roles, as part of a wider assessment of spatial awareness and the ability to think laterally.)
What will I have to do in my mechanical comprehension test?
You’re going to have to use your knowledge of mechanical principles, in order to solve problems.
What does the test measure?
A mechanical comprehension test measures two things:
- Your ability to understand mechanical concepts and principles
- Your ability to use those concepts and principles to make deductions and inferences
Sounds complicated? It’s not really. Essentially, a mechanical comprehension test poses two simple questions:
- Do you understand this concept? (Diagram/Model/Principle/Thing.)
- What does this concept tell us? (How can we use it? What decisions should we make?
What type of questions will I have to answer?
Mechanical comprehension tests are designed to assess your knowledge across many different areas; these might include friction, gravity, acceleration, pressure, moments, circuit diagrams, energy transformation, kinetic and potential energy, charge, magnetism, work and power, levers, pulleys, screws, gears, springs, etc.
A picture paints a thousand words. Here’s a simple example question:
So here you can see the above points in action: 1) Do you understand this concept? and 2) What does it tell us?
Two important points
- Nearly all mechanical comprehension tests are multiple choice.
- There will only be one correct answer.
How long will I have for each question?
This will vary based on the format of your test, but as a general practice rule, aim to give yourself 20-30 seconds to answer each question.
Do I have to sit the test at a computer?
The vast majority of mechanical comprehension tests are now computer-based. But unlike most other areas of aptitude testing, mechanical comprehension tests are sometimes still taken with a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper.
(If this isn’t clear in your interview documentation contact the employer and clarify this important point.)
The huge variety of mechanical comprehension tests
Unlike other areas of aptitude testing, there is huge variety across the format of mechanical comprehension tests. If you have questions around the pass rate/pass score, the timings of the test or the amount of questions you should contact the employer and ask them.
Don’t be afraid to ask the employer for this info; it shows that you are preparing diligently and are serious about succeeding. They will be impressed.
Will my mechanical comprehension test be relevant to my specific role?
Sometimes. The type of mechanical comprehension test you sit can depend on the industry of your role, but most tests assess common principles so they tend to remain fairly consistent.
Remember that it is your knowledge of mechanical principles that will help you answer the questions, not knowledge of the job role itself.
Is it possible to improve my ability before my test?
Yes, absolutely. These abilities are not innate; you can significantly boost your chances of success through preparation and study.
The best way to improve is to repeatedly take practice tests. This improves both your competence and confidence, it’s a big multiplier.
We recommend these practice tests as they include explanations. (This allows you to pinpoint where you’re falling short AND improve. This highlights the gaps in your knowledge and plugs them, so it’s the perfect solution.)
Mechanical comprehension test – example questions
Here’s a few simple example questions to give you a flavour of what to expect:
Ok let’s look at some specific tips and resources you can use to pass your mechanical comprehension test:
5 Top Tips for Mechanical Comprehension Test Success
Top Tip 1) Design a study schedule
Setting aside 30-60 minutes a day before your test to study will transform your chances of success. Use practice tests to identify where you are weak. Then study in those areas.
Here’s a few useful videos that will get you started:
Mechanical comprehension test video guide
This video from Richard McMunn is useful for covering the basics of your mechanical comprehension test.
The fundamentals of mechanical engineering
This video from Robert Snaith is much more detailed:
Top Tip 2) Be quick, be accurate
You need to work fast and be accurate. Remember you are being timed against other candidates, so literally every second counts. Use your practice tests to improve your speed. Aim to reach a point where you can answer a question within 20-30 seconds.
Top Tip 3) Don’t panic
You may get flustered because there are too many questions and not enough time. Don’t worry about it. Most mechanical comprehension tests are designed in a way that only 5% of the population can answer all questions within the given time frame.
If you’re in that 5%, great job! If you’re in the remaining 95%, you should work as quickly as you can, without sacrificing accuracy. It’s all about getting that balance right. Again, practice will help you find that balance.
Check out our article on dealing with interview nerves for more tips on staying calm.
Complex mechanical principles in motion
This simple video does a great job of illustrating complex principles in a simple way:
Top Tip 4) Don’t guess or dwell
Some test providers deduct marks for incorrect answers. This is to stop candidates from entering guesses, in the blind hope that they may get lucky. The moral of the tale? Don’t guess frivolously!
If you come up against a particularly hard question, move on and come back to it later if possible. Don’t dwell. You could correctly answer 3-4 questions in the time you would spend agonizing over a difficult one.
Top Tip 5) Practice
The number 1 way to improve your mechanical comprehension test performance is to practice. These practice tests are the ones we recommended as they include explanations – this means you can pinpoint where you are weak and improve in those areas. (Gold dust.)
Some final questions for you…
- Do you have to take a numerical reasoning test or a verbal reasoning test? If so you may want to check out the aptitude tests section of the site.
- You can find practice tests and tons of free advice on every other type of ‘reasoning test’ too: numerical, verbal, abstract, logical, inductive, diagrammatic, spatial, mechanical comprehension, UKCAT and Watson-Glaser tests.
- Worried about your assessment day? Maybe you’re worried about performing a presentation or preparing for an interview or group exercise or in-tray exercise?
- Be sure to check out my Ultimate Interview & Assessment Day Guide – it’s filled with tips, tricks and insider-secrets that will help you succeed on the big day.
- Perhaps you’d like some guidance on how to deal with nerves & anxiety at your interview?
- Lastly the Tools and Resources page is packed with useful equipment and ‘A’ List recommendations that will make your life easier.
I hope you enjoyed this free guide and found it useful? I wish you the best of luck in your future career and with your mechanical comprehension test.