Helpful Tips On How To Pass Your Next Technical Aptitude Test
If you are going into a technical field, then you have to harbor a degree of understanding for the people who are hiring you. The hiring process is unfair for everyone involved.
On your end, you have the skills required for the task that a job listing describes. But you still have to hope that a resume reading robot will consider your resume among everyone else’s in the field.
At the same time, companies in technical fields need to sift through tons of applications to find people who, even if their resume is good, might simply lack the skills that they claim to have.
The only way to really know for sure that someone has the skills they say they have is to test those skills. The most legitimate test of those skills is watching a person use them to solve a problem. But given the number of applications these companies get, they can’t create such a test for everyone.
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What Are Technical Aptitude Tests For?
In order to split the difference between remotely screening employees and personally evaluating the employee’s skills, many jobs have started using what are called “technical aptitude tests.” These are basically exams that quiz you on your knowledge of a technical field and how skills are applied.
The idea is that if you possess certain skills, then you should be able to answer questions about those skills. For instance, if you know how to do roofing work, then you probably know the difference between nails and screws, as well as the difference between nails used in roofing and those that aren’t.
However, it is an oversimplification to say that technical aptitude tests are purely a matter of knowledge. After all, plenty of people do excellent roofing work without ever knowing what nails they are working with.
More to the point, some fields have dialects, where a tool might go by a different name depending on the context or the region. Technical aptitude tests take this into account.
The Four Layers of Technical Aptitude Tests
The best way to think of technical aptitude tests is that they evaluate you based on four different values. This makes sure that even if you have shortcomings in one, you can use the other three to impress.
And yes, these kinds of tests are designed so that someone can pass with exceptional scores from two of the four without having much going for them in their performance in the other two. Remember, if a job is offering you a technical aptitude test, they want you to pass it.
There is often a fear among technically minded people that these tests will do nothing but filter out workers that have skills due to being a test.
They are designed to avoid that exact circumstance.
Verbal testing is an evaluation of how much vocabulary a person knows about their technical field or discipline. At the same time, it is also testing a person’s ability to comprehend information and communicate. All of these are important, as even someone who doesn’t know the exact vocabulary of a field might at least be able to communicate within it.
These are not tests of mechanical skill but tests of mechanical understanding. Here, the test gauges your comprehension of what is going on during the practice of the technical skill in question.
Usually, that means taking real-world examples of workplace behaviors and asking what the consequences of this behavior will be. For instance, lots of carpenters know to wear goggles on the job. But it is important that a carpenter know why they wear goggles on the job.
The word “numerical” is deceptive, at least to a small degree. When people hear it, the natural assumption is that a numerical test is going to consider their basic math skills. And this is somewhat true. But the exact degree to which it is true varies from industry to industry, and from skill to skill.
For instance, numerical skills in construction will be wildly different depending on whether you are dealing with the strength in materials that a foreman needs to concern themselves with, or the strength in materials that a worker has to concern themselves with.
In the first case, the foreman is thinking about the transportation of materials and their assembly within a project. A worker is usually focused on the strength of their tools’ materials.
Therefore, while a numerical test will concern itself with math, it will usually be less a matter of math and more a disconnected, abstract concept that pertains to the given field specifically.
Of all of the values being assessed by a technical aptitude test, this is perhaps the one most concerned with the applicant’s ability to understand safety procedures within their field.
The reason is that while communication, mechanical understanding, and numerical ability might play a part in safety, a person’s capacity for recognizing the visual red flags of safety problems is ultimately the last line of defense.
Visual tests will usually include diagrams or even photos of workplace procedures with questions about what corners are being cut or what dangers are present through the depicted methods.
Where Are Technical Aptitude Tests Most Common?
We have made mention of several different industries that make use of technical aptitude tests. But many people find themselves wondering: What industries value these tests the most?
Among those that we mentioned, construction and carpentry are likely to have the least interest in giving a prospective worker a technical aptitude test. This is because they are also industries that are the least likely to hire through an online hiring site.
Remember, the technical aptitude test is only necessary if you cannot directly observe a person’s capabilities within a technical field.
As a result, you are actually most likely to find a technical aptitude test in fields where online hiring is a common practice. Overwhelmingly, that means programming jobs. In those cases, it is a perfect intersection of availability and applicability due to the computer-centric work of programming jobs.
In short, if you are trying to get a programming job, then you should be prepared for a technical aptitude test. Other technical fields might implement them, but those are the most common by far.
How to Prepare for a Technical Aptitude Test
There are three ways to prepare for a technical aptitude test.
- Getting as specific as possible in your skills
- Seeking out sample questions
- Using Object examples
Each of these makes use of a very different skill, and none of them works exactly how you might think. So, in the interest of helping you out, we will go over each one of them.
Getting Specific with Your Skills
Imagine that you apply for a job as a front-end web developer. As any web developer will tell you, that job description alone will not tell you what you are doing. Are you using Java? C#? Are you responsible for how the site performs on mobile, or just on desktop? Do you have to hunt down your own assets?
Getting specific with your skills starts with presenting yourself with very specific skills. What skills you claim to have will have a huge impact on what kind of technical aptitude test you receive.
It will also mean that you can research sample questions much more easily. Searching for web development sample questions will yield you a huge variety of options. Searching for web development for android sample questions will be far more fruitful, as the questions will be more relevant.
Seeking Out Sample Questions
As we mentioned above, once you know what specific skills you are being tested on, only then can your search for sample questions mean anything.
Sample questions are not just pulled from the minds of already existing workers. Most of the time, sample questions will come from commonly known problems and problems that have gotten a lot of publicity.
In the world of programming, that means any question that you can find more than a few times on GitHub will likely be presented to you in a technical aptitude test.
Head to Job Test Prep which has specific practice materials and simulation technical tests in all four areas. You will get real-life test questions that will set you up for passing the technical tests with ease.
You can also reliably find these questions in forums for hackathons.
Using Object Examples
This is the most intuitive method of studying for a technical aptitude test, as it simply involves practicing the work for which you are applying. In fact, it is arguably too intuitive. Some people practice the basics of their field without ever trying to get specific or learn what trends are popular in the field.
Only commit to object examples once you have already found specific example questions. This will help you find and even create object examples that are relevant to your work.
Technical aptitude tests can be difficult. If they are not well-constructed, they will feel like an arbitrary barrier between you and the job you want to do. But they are also a platform for you to show off your skills. So, even if you do not like them, do your best on them. An amazing job can be waiting for you.
And if you need any help, head to Job Test Prep to practice, practice, practice.
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.