The difficulty level of numerical reasoning tests often varies between test providers and is also position-based. In this article, you’ll learn how hard a numerical reasoning test can be.
Are numerical reasoning tests hard?
The difficulty level of numerical reasoning tests depends on two main factors, which are job levels, and occupations. Aptitude testing companies design numerical reasoning tests in different difficulty levels and use corresponding benchmarks to ensure that the test is appropriate to specific occupations and levels and accurately measures candidates’ capabilities and potential against these.
Higher job levels mean increasing difficulty levels
Numerical reasoning tests are designed to assess candidates at different organizational levels (such as graduates, professionals, and managers) to see whether a person possesses the necessary capabilities to meet the requirements of a job at a particular grade.
For example, employers will expect you to demonstrate more competent numerical reasoning abilities as a graduate than a non-graduate. Similarly, if you apply for any management role, you are expected to present stronger numerical reasoning skills than someone at a graduate level.
Different occupations mean different difficulty levels
Hiring companies can ask test providers to customize numerical reasoning tests for specific roles. This means it depends on certain occupations that the difficulty level varies. In occupations requiring stronger numerical reasoning competencies, numerical reasoning tests can be more complex and difficult than others that don’t require excellent numerical reasoning abilities.
For example, if you are applying as a graduate for an engineering role, you will be expected to demonstrate stronger numerical reasoning abilities than an individual applying as a graduate for a marketing role.
Sometimes different test providers mean different difficult levels
Difficulty levels among test providers don’t differentiate much. Nevertheless, it depends on the types of questions each test provider has that numerical reasoning tests from certain test providers are slightly more hard to deal with.
There are four commonly seen types of questions in a numerical reasoning test, but not all test providers have all of these four types. Among the four types, number/letter sequence seems to be more complicated than other types since it often doesn’t follow any easily-recognized pattern and you’ll also need inductive reasoning skills to tackle it. This means if the test providers only produce tests with number/letter sequence questions, their numerical reasoning tests can be more difficult than others that don’t.
Misconceiving math expressions
You may have good knowledge of math but in terms of solving math questions in numerical reasoning tests, you may struggle. It happens as a result of a lack of practice, and unfamiliarity with word expression used in numerical reasoning questions.
Here’s an example:
If the profit increased from last year to this year by 45% then what was the profit last year providing that the profit this year amounted to $80,000?
In most cases, candidates who don’t have extensive practice on numerical reasoning questions often calculate the above as follows:
80,000 x (1+0.45) = 116,000.
But in fact, the calculation should be reversed, which is
80,000 (1+0.45) 55,172.
How difficult are numerical reasoning tests?
Types of questions and time constraints are the main factors that make numerical reasoning tests challenging.
Can You Fail a Numerical Reasoning Test?
Types of question
Calculation questions are commonly seen in gamified recruiting tests where applicants must do calculations of two to three digits quickly. Therefore, the most challenging aspect of calculation questions is how you strike a balance between speed and accuracy. To tackle this, you’ll need to practice mental math on a regular basis to familiarize yourself with the actual test.
Below are a few calculation question examples that you can take a look at.
|1934 + 24555 – 18 = ?||26471|
|(16 x 3 ) 8 = ?||6|
|-15 + 9 = ?||-6|
|7 – 8 – 4 = ?||-5|
|3 + 17 – (15 x 3) = ?||-25|
|250 x 7 = ?||1750|
|(274 – 84) x 16 = ?||3040|
|1090 + 75 – 19 = ?||1146|
|(88 : 2) – 18 = ?||26|
|(28 x 3) 12 = ?||7|
For math problems within a context (or Word problem), the questions solely emphasize fundamental arithmetic concepts, such as the four basic operations, percentages, ratios, etc. The complexity of a problem often depends on the terms and level of computations used to answer it. Candidates must get familiar with three different contexts (daily, business, and financial), ranging from simple calculations to complex calculations with several layers.
Here are some examples for you to practice.
Example 1: Last year’s revenue was $265000. This year’s is $375000. By what percentage has this year’s revenue increased over last year’s?
For data interpretation types, filtering data among multiple distractions is the most challenging factor. During pre-test preparation, you need to get familiar with a variety of charts, including table, bar, line, pie, caselet, and compound charts (more than 2 charts are mixed) to excel at reading and extracting data for whatever types of question that you might be asked in the real test.
Here are some examples that you can practice.
Question 1: Approximately what percentage of all Vifay Instant Noodles sales were made to females?
Question 1: Which group had the lowest ratio of job offers to applicants in 2004?
When taking numerical reasoning tests, you will face such an intensive pressure of time. You are given less than one minute to solve each question, and a test at a higher level of difficulty might allow you even less time for each test question.
You’ll need to figure out how to have enough time to work out all the questions in the test. A numerical reasoning test can include different types of questions at the same time, with different difficulty questions. You should work on the easier questions in a short amount of time, to save up more time for the complex questions.
What to prepare for numerical reasoning tests?
Three key skills you will need for your upcoming numerical reasoning tests are
- Processing math in multiple-word contexts
- Scanning for data in different data forms
- Making quick and accurate math operations.
You need to excel at processing math in multiple contexts since, besides straightforward calculations, you might also encounter math operations within contexts. It depends on your job levels and test providers that you see different math contexts such as daily, business, and finance. In addition to memorizing common formulas for each type of math context, you’ll have to practice on a regular basis to enhance your problem-solving speed.
Scanning for data is also important in preparation for your numerical reasoning tests since there’re a variety of forms of data presentation in the test. Some possible types of data forms include tables, charts, bars, lines, and even mixed charts. You can train yourself to quickly read and get the necessary information from these types of data presentations can by practicing data interpretation questions, and recording your progress.
The last thing on the list is the skill to make quick and accurate math operations. This helps you make time for complicated questions that require a great amount of reasoning. You can practice mental math calculations and learn common mental math tips for better performance on your calculation questions.
Common mistakes to avoid
In addition to practicing, you should also watch out for mistakes. For better preparation, here’re several mistakes that can affect your numerical reasoning test result.
Not adopting mental math
Less experienced test-takers have a tendency not to adopt mental math in doing math operations, due to their lack of mental math knowledge and practice. This is also because these candidates often think of numerical reasoning tests as normal math tests when these tests are completely different. Numerical reasoning tests assess your numerical reasoning skill rather than your calculating ability. You should always use mental math to work quickly on calculations so you can save up time for the reasoning process – the process in which you analyze data and arrive at the final answer.
The practicing process is, therefore, necessary if you want to pass your numerical reasoning test.