Can You Fail a Numerical Reasoning Test?

There is no fixed failing score for numerical reasoning tests, so technically you can’t fail a numerical reasoning test. You might either perform well or poorly on your numerical reasoning tests.

You will find in this article helpful information for a better understanding of numerical reasoning test scores and further suggestions when you underperform on your numerical reasoning test.

What is a good score on a numerical reasoning test?

Depending on the test providers and the company, a numerical reasoning test will have a different interpretation of a good score. In most cases, a good score is between 73 and 90 and is given in percentile score.

A numerical reasoning test usually uses two scoring systems: percentage and percentile. The main difference between these two scoring systems is while the percentage score compares quantities, the percentile displays position or rank. It depends on the employers and the test provider they work with that each scoring system is used.

Percentage score vs. Percentile score

A percentage score depicts scores out of a hundred, or per hundred based on each candidate’s performance. It presents the comparison between the candidate’s actual performance and a numerical reasoning test’s total number of questions.

A percentile score is based on candidates’ relative performance. It demonstrates how a test taker’s score compares to that of other test takers within a specific comparison group. In other words, it presents an individual’s rank among the total number of candidates who take the examination.

For example: In a 40-question numerical reasoning test, your percentage and percentile scores are 87,5%, and 78 respectively. In this case, it means you got 87,5% questions correctly and your score is better than 78% of people who also take the test.

Decision-making criteria in recruitment

One common way employers often adopt when selecting the best fit for their companies is to use a cut-off score. It means employers shortlist candidates who achieve more than a certain acceptable score.

This method is often used in combination with the percentile scoring system. The cut-off percentile score (or the benchmark) can be decided based on a number of factors such as candidate quantities, test providers, companies’ requirements, etc.

In most cases, the company will work with the test publisher to decide the benchmark. The test publishers then use their database of norm groups (groups of people who have taken numerical reasoning tests before, against whom your score is compared) to suggest the benchmarks for applicants. There can be norm groups based on job levels such as graduates and seniors, or positions such as consultants, accountants, engineers, etc.

For such reasons, your raw score is not an indicating factor of your capabilities or deciding criteria of whether you fail a numerical reasoning test. The only way to capture how you perform on the test is by using percentile benchmarks against a specific norm group, which is what employers usually do.

What happens when failing numerical reasoning tests?

When you don’t receive any interview offer after taking your numerical reasoning tests, that means either you are not the best fit or you need more practice to pass the set benchmarks.

You need more practice 

Numerical reasoning tests are designed to help employers select the best candidates with the required numerical reasoning skills, not to test how excellent you are at numerical reasoning. Therefore, the test result does not imply that you are terrible at numerical reasoning skills, but rather that you are not good enough. Based on such results, you will know whether or not you need more practice to improve your numerical reasoning result.

Large firms and big corporations sometimes use numerical reasoning tests as an automatic pre-interview screening method when having a great number of candidates. These employers often have a specific benchmark at which they say “no” or “yes” to certain candidates. The system will automatically highlight candidates with a certain score and arrange them for the next stage of the selection process. If you don’t get to the interview round, it solely means you don’t pass the benchmarking point.

You are not performing as poorly as you think

Numerical reasoning tests are often taken alongside other aptitude tests such as verbal reasoning, logical reasoning, and sometimes spatial reasoning. Therefore when you receive your test score, it might present your overall performance not your particular performance on the numerical reasoning test. If you are confident about your capabilities in taking numerical reasoning tests, there’s no need to worry if you receive a not-so-good result.

How to improve numerical reasoning skills?

If the case is you need to improve numerical reasoning skills, you should know three core skills to master before taking the next numerical reasoning test. These skills include:

  • Math problem-solving in different contexts: daily, business, and finance;
  • Screening and scanning data in different forms;
  • Making quick and accurate calculations.

Math problem-solving in different contexts

You are likely to encounter different contexts that will be used in a numerical reasoning test such as daily, business, and finance. Within these contexts, there are different types of data presentation (word problems, tables, bars, charts, etc.) that give you information to answer a set of between two and five questions. You’ll need to identify which information and formula are needed to work out all of the given questions.

For such reasons, if you want a better result in your next numerical reasoning test, you should practice more on how to solve math in different contexts. You can either learn how to proceed with all the related formulas or start your practice with a comprehensive guide here.

Practicing filtering data in different forms

To tackle data interpretation questions (long context), you need to excel at practicing filtering data in different forms. There is often a great deal of distracting information given in these questions and you have to screen and scan for details that are needed to answer the questions. So the thing is, you need to practice how to navigate information among a great deal of distracting data in less than one minute.

Data interpretation questions (long form) are often given in the forms such as tables, bars, lines, caselet, and pie charts. You never know what kinds of data presentations are included in the test, so preparing to work with all these types of data forms is important. can start the practice by solving questions involving each of the data forms, and later with mixed charts. 

Excelling at making quick and accurate calculations

Making quick and accurate calculations means you can deliver correct answers to calculation and estimation questions. What makes this a necessary skill is that it helps you save time on plain calculation and estimation for more complex questions that you might need more time towards the end of the numerical reasoning test.

There are several mental math tips that can help you proceed with calculations and estimations much faster, and you should also train yourself to practice solving calculations and estimations within a certain amount of time, using these tips. You can get access to such practice here.

What are the common mistakes?

In addition to practicing, watching out for mistakes is also important. Below are a few mistakes that can hinder you from performing well on your numerical reasoning tests.

Misconceiving math expressions

You may struggle when solving maths questions in numerical reasoning tests, even if you have excellent math knowledge. This is because if you are not used to numerical reasoning tests’ expressions, you may find it confusing and complicated to solve the questions.

You can get familiar with math expressions in numerical reasoning tests only through daily practice, which eventually helps you speed up your solving time on each question. 

Not adopting mental math 

Less experienced test-takers have a tendency not to use mental math when working with calculations. This is often due to a lack of mental math knowledge and practice, and these candidates may think of numerical reasoning tests as having the same level of difficulty as normal math tests.

Since numerical reasoning tests evaluate your numerical reasoning skills instead of your calculating abilities, you should always practice adopting mental math to work more quickly on calculations. 

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