A Comprehensive Guide to NHS Aptitude Tests

NHS aptitude tests are preliminary assessments by NHS for the Graduate Management Scheme and a compulsory part of the department’s hiring process. The tests have the purpose of evaluating candidates’ potential in the NHS working environment.

In this article, we will discover the detailed components of NHS aptitude tests and the best ways to prepare for them. 

What are NHS aptitude tests?

The NHS aptitude tests include 5 different assessments named numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, critical reasoning, and situational judgement tests. Although the tests don’t have time limits, NHS estimates they would take about 40 minutes. These tests are reported to be developed by Cappfinity.

The aptitude tests are mainly used as recruitment tools in the screening round of NHS, but candidates might also see them in later rounds. Since not all positions are expected to take the same tests, candidates will be notified in advance of what tests are assigned to them.


NHS aptitude tests in the recruiting process

The NHS aptitude tests take place in the second round of the department’s hiring procedure. Although the recruiting process of NHS may vary depending on different employers within the department, the general process is as follows: Online application => Online assessment => Work-based scenarios => Virtual Assessment Centre => Allocation => Offer and onboarding.

1. Online application

The first stage of the recruitment procedure is to apply your CV along with the necessary documents on NHS website. This process is expected to last 40 minutes.

NHS always publics the deadlines for application on its website and encourages candidates to do it as soon as possible. The department also provides several career tests on its website to support candidates in finding suitable jobs.

Before applying to NHS, you should check if you are eligible for its entry requirements. Specifically for the Management Training Scheme, you need to have good academic performance and permission to work in the UK. For more details, you can check for the requirements on NHS website.

2. Online assessments

If your application is approved, you will be invited to take several online aptitude tests. As mentioned, they have no time limit. However, the time taken will be measured, therefore, you should finish them at your finest speed. NHS suggests you take the tests in 40 minutes.

Furthermore, there will be fixed deadlines for the online assessments. That means the sooner you apply, the more time you’ll have to finish the tests.

Although candidates will receive different tests based on their applied roles, all of them will get feedback reports regardless of their results.

3. Work-based scenarios

This stage is a 60-minute video interview with pre-recorded questions. It can be taken immediately after you pass the online assessments. You will be given a practice question to warm up before starting and a feedback report at the end.

The questions in this stage are competency-based, asking about your previous experience in problem-solving. NHS advises candidates to practice the STAR model in answering. That means following the order of content as follows: 

  • Situation: The context of the problem
  • Tasks: What you needed to do to solve the problem
  • Actions: How you approached, analyzed, and solved the problem
  • Results: The impacts of your contributions 

4. Virtual Assessment Centre 

This is the last assessment, which takes half a day to complete. You will be asked to perform several strengths-based exercises. This stage allows you to meet current graduates and senior staff of NHS, so it is a good chance to build connections and ask for insights. You will also receive a feedback report after completing it.

For this stage, NHS specify that candidates in Health Analysis will have an extra assessment to showcase their analytical skills and experience.

5. Allocation

Only candidates passing the Virtual Assessment Centre will proceed to this stage. This is when NHS matches your profile and performance to a suitable NHS employer. The evaluation will be based on the assessment scores and preferences of candidates as well as the available jobs of employers.

6. Offer and onboarding

Candidates that are successfully matched with an NHS employer will be offered a place in the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme. The final step to participate in this 2-year scheme is to sign a fixed-term contract with NHS.  


NHS numerical reasoning test

The NHS numerical reasoning test mainly consists of charts, graphs, and diagrams. The test asks you to interpret given charts to answer questions. These questions can have 3 forms, which are selecting the correct options, ranking the answers, and free-form answers:

  • Select the correct options: These questions are multiple-choice, in which you choose the correct answers based on charts.
  • Rank the answers: You will be given a list of answers to rank based on charts.
  • Free-form answers: You will need to calculate the questions and type in your results.

To ace the NHS numerical reasoning test, you need to have good skills in chart reading and basic math. It is best to prepare a calculator and draft sheets before taking this test.

Here is an example of a “Select the correct options” question from Cappfinity, the test provider of NHS:


You are given last year’s predicted and actual flour production figures from January to April.

Based on the data provided, what was the difference between predicted and actual flour production for January?

Source: Cappfinity

Select the correct answer:

A. 140.5
B. 87.6
C. 266
D. 187.6
E. 78.9

Answer: D


We have the predicted flour production in January to be 6500 and the actual figure to be 6312.4. Therefore, the difference between them would be:

6500 - 6312.4 = 187.6


NHS verbal reasoning test

The NHS verbal reasoning test provides you with passages or sentences and asks you to interpret given information to answer. The test has 5 question types, namely True, False, Cannot say, Drag and drop, Dropdowns, Edit passage, and Ranking.

  • True, False, Cannot say: These questions test your reading comprehension. They give you a passage, a statement, and True, False, and Cannot say options to evaluate that statement.
  • Drag and drop: These questions test your ability in identifying the tone and mood in communication. They require you to drag suitable responses into different conversation categories.
  • Dropdowns: These questions test your skills in understanding contexts. They give you a passage and several blanks within, each blank has some dropdown options to choose from.
  • Edit passage: These questions test your competency in English. They ask you to edit a passage in terms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Ranking: These questions test your evaluating ability. They ask you to rank answers in a particular order, commonly from the most to the least positive. 

All of the questions in the NHS verbal reasoning test can seem ambiguous. This is because they mostly require you to grasp the contextual and underlying meanings of words.

Let’s look at an example of a verbal reasoning question produced by Cappfinity:

Source: Cappfinity

Answer: 1C - 2D - 3B - 4E - 5A


  • 1C: The reply expresses gratitude and extensive compliments.
  • 2D: The reply does not include a thank-you and somewhat degrades the idea by saying that it has been thought of before.
  • 3B: The reply is not as complimenting as C and D and even points out the flaws of the idea (bad timing).
  • 4E: The reply heavily lacks enthusiasm. However, it gives reasons for the receiver to understand why their idea is declined.
  • 5A: The reply lacks both enthusiasm and justification. The receiver would feel like their idea is bothering and redundant. 

NHS critical reasoning test

The NHS critical reasoning test has multiple-choice questions providing evaluations, arguments, assumptions, or conclusions for candidates to evaluate based on given passages or statements. There are 4 types of questions with distinctive requirements.

  • Evaluations: You need to decide whether given conclusions are True, Probably True, Can’t say, Probably False, or False based on a passage.
  • Arguments: You need to consider whether given arguments are strong or weak based on their relationship with the question.
  • Assumptions: You need to determine whether given assumptions are made from a passage.
  • Conclusions: You need to decide whether provided conclusions follow a passage. 

For better illustration, here is a critical reasoning question in the style of NHS:

Source: Cappfinity

Answer: Conclusion follows

Explanation: 1992 was the year of establishment, whereas 2 years later 1 of the 3 divisions started to make a profit.


NHS situational judgement test

The NHS situational judgement test (SJT) provides work-based scenarios for you to choose your reactions upon. It can be in the form of a written or video-based test. While the video type happens somewhat like an interview, the written type normally asks you to rank options based on your preference.

While there is no correct answer for the SJT, you should pay attention to the answers that best fit your applied role. However, you should try to stay true to yourself as much as possible. After all, the test depicts the NHS workplace, so if you feel the need to lie for the role, high chance that you would not be happy working there.

Here is an example of an SJT question provided by Cappfinity:


Source: Cappfinity

Suggested answer: 1A - 2C - 3B - 4D

Note: These answers are not necessarily correct for you. They’re only meant to give you an understanding of how to analyze a work-based scenario.


  • 1A: It is better to have a basic framework before asking for help. That way, your questions for others would be much more specific and on point. Also, not declining offers right away is beneficial.
    mmy text of the printing and typesetting industry
  • 2C: It is good to not decline offers and open rooms for teamwork.
  • 3B: It is not recommended to make decisions so swiftly. You need to evaluate the most effective way to finish the task.
  • 4D: Never decline offers before even giving them a chance. It might close off many unexpected opportunities and benefits.

How to prepare for NHS aptitude tests

For candidates of the Graduate Management Scheme, NHS has specific advice for preparation as follows:

1. Practice for the tests:

Although aptitude tests don’t require professional knowledge, you need time to get used to their formats and approaches. Therefore, prior practice is very important. To compete with thousands of candidates applying to NHS, you should pack yourself with as much practice experience as possible.

To help you with that, MConsultingPrep introduced the most complete and accurate aptitude test package. Included in the package are hundreds of Numerical and Verbal reasoning practice questions, which are all standardized and attached with detailed explanations. With flexible bundle options and lifetime access, the package is guaranteed to increase your pass rate at NHS.

If you want to have a peek at what the practice questions look like, try our free aptitude test!

2. Create a suitable environment:

Since NHS aptitude tests can be taken at any time, anywhere, NHS suggests you choose a comfortable space for taking them. You would want to pick somewhere quiet with no interruptions and has a stable Internet connection and power for your devices.

3. Prepare resources:

“Resources” here means supporting tools for taking the tests. They can be pen and paper, a calculator, and perhaps regeneration products like water or snacks. Try to make it as convenient as possible for test taking.

4. Follow instructions:

You can not pass the NHS tests without paying attention to their instructions. The tests don’t have time limits, so spend your time carefully studying the requirements and your tasks. Carefulness is also a fundamental characteristic that NHS looks for in employees.

5. Avoid guessing:

All questions in NHS aptitude tests can be reasoned, so you shouldn’t make wild guesses on any of them. Again, the tests are not time-limited, so take as much time as you need to understand and analyze the questions.

6. Choose your time:

You should plan ahead when to take the tests. It is advised to choose your most active hours to take them. For example, you might be a night owl rather than a morning person. Furthermore, you need to stick to your plan and avoid procrastination, or you might need to take them in a rush.

7. Contact NHS if needed:

If there are any problems during the process, contact NHS ASAP to make on-time adjustments. You should feel free to ask for support since NHS is always ready to listen and address candidates’ issues.

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