How to Best Prepare for a Numerical Reasoning Test: 7 Top Tips

The first thing to know is that numerical reasoning tests are NOT the same as a maths test. Yes, they involve numbers and calculations, but they are not measuring your maths ability quite in the same way. Numerical reasoning tests are fundamentally different by what they are trying to measure – which is your ability to correctly interpret numerical information. Ultimately, numerical reasoning tests only require you to perform numerical calculations you’d expect to see at the workplace rather than anything higher level, or purely mathematical. Instead, numerical reasoning tests rely on problem-solving, analysis, and good test-taking technique. This last element is the focus of this piece.

Now that we are familiar with what numerical reasoning tests are, and also what they are not, let’s take a look through my Top 7 Tips for you to improve your test-taking technique, and for you to best prepare for a numerical reasoning test.

Numerical Test Tip 1: Know the Maths that you DO need – then focus on any weaknesses

So for anyone who has previously struggled with maths exams, do not fear, for numerical reasoning tests measure a different set of skills. That being said, numerical tests cover a simple basis of numerical manipulation. These include:

  • Averages
  • Addition
  • Division
  • Multiplication
  • Percentages
  • Ratios
  • Subtraction

If any of these maths calculations are unfamiliar to you, then you should spend some time practicing the ones that cause you trouble. You’ll want to be able to do these calculations autonomously. And remember, you will be allowed to use a calculator during the numerical test, so you are not expected to do these calculations in your head. But once you’ve got these core mathematical principles down, you’ll be able to deal with ANY numerical questions that the tests will contain.

Numerical Test Tip 2:  Start with reading the question

A lot of differences we see in the test scores are not just down to their numerical reasoning ability. The first thing you want to do is find out what the question is about. Try not to focus on all of the numbers on the graphs, it is better to read the question first so you know what numbers you actually need to focus on. This is especially important for questions that contain a lot of different numbers. Applying this strategy should make complex or overwhelming questions a lot more manageable.

Numerical Test Tip 3: Do not take the test in a distracting environment

You may be great at maths, or numerical reasoning tests more specifically, but if you’re not in the right environment or have not adequately prepared for your circumstance, you’ll find yourself underperforming at best, failing at worst. Make sure you are familiar with the test format and you are not in an environment that is full of unnecessary distractions. For example, loud noises and dim light are both things to avoid while taking a test.

Numerical Test Tip 4: Try to alleviate stress to help concentration

If you are feeling nervous, then it is a good idea to take some deep breaths before you start your test. This can help with combating nerves as well as building focus. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, counting to ten with each breath. This breathing exercise can reduce stress levels as well as give you an increased sense of focus. If nothing works and you still feel stressed, then use the anxious energy and channel it into the test! Sometimes a heightened sense of anxious concentration can help you focus during a test.

Numerical Test Tip 5:  Pay attention to the amount of time you have per question

Each numerical reasoning test will be different so pay attention to the number of questions you have to answer, as well as how much time you have per question, and overall. Naturally, some questions will take you longer to finish than others, and that’s why it’s important for you to gauge how long it typically takes for you to answer a numerical reasoning question. Fortunately, some numerical reasoning tests have multiple questions per single numerical graph. This should mean that your later questions using this graph will be quicker than the former.

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