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Talent Assessment | 10 Min Read

All You Don’t Know About Aptitude Tests


Recruiters often need to evaluate the intricacies of the selection process to find the right candidates. It has always been a matter of debate for recruiters to bank on a single methodology for hiring. There is no one way of selecting candidates, and the process differs from one organization to another.

For example, when hiring designers at Apple, its ace designer Jony Ive has a favorite question for the candidates: “Describe the world as you see it.”

Apart from the designer’s portfolio and other aspects of the job, the answer to this question plays a vital role in the final selection. But not everyone is Jony Ive, and not every company has a similar hiring method. Most recruiters want to rely on an insightful process, backed by data, for reliable cues to make a hiring decision.

The challenge for most recruiters is to devise an accurate, repeatable and consistent recruitment method. The bulk screening of candidates challenges most recruiters during the hiring process. It gets cumbersome to shortlist suitable candidates, from thousands of applications, for the next stage. Therefore, recruiters employ aptitude assessment for candidate evaluation to streamline the mechanism.

Aptitude tests are principally designed to enable recruiters to identify the potential candidates corresponding to the job profile. Aptitude tests focus on the candidates’ cognitive abilities. Such cognitive-based tests also allow recruiters to look beyond the resumes and evaluate applicants in the existing scenario as per the specific needs of the job.

However, recruiters must understand the nuances of aptitude tests because various tests help zero in on candidates with prowess in a specific area of human intelligence. We would explore this further, but let’s first understand human intelligence.

Understanding Human Intelligence

Human intelligence is about experiencing, understanding, acquiring and applying the acquired knowledge. It also includes the ability to adapt to a situation and influence the surroundings. Human intelligence is a mix of cognitive and emotional intelligence.

Human Intelligence

Cognitive Intelligence: It refers to intellectual functions relating to attention, memory, judgment and reasoning. It is the ability to create new knowledge based on existing knowledge.

Emotional Intelligence: It is the ability to differentiate among different emotions. It also includes using emotional information during the thinking process and behavior. Emotional intelligence is about perceiving, using, understanding and managing emotions.

However, there is no single way to describe human intelligence, and psychologists have continually attempted to provide its different versions. One of the most widely accepted explanations offered by the renowned psychologist Raymond Cattell came in 1963. He divided cognitive intelligence into two categories:

cognitive intelligence

Fluid Intelligence: It doesn’t depend on acquired knowledge but is all about spontaneous wit. It is also about problem-solving abilities using abstract reasoning.

Crystallized Intelligence: It depends on acquired knowledge and skills through practice and learning. It includes the knowledge gained through education and learning. 

The core cognitive brain processes are the most important, and they collect and process the necessary information. The fluid and crystallized intelligence work based on these brain processes’ functionalities.

Core cognitive brain functions are further divided into four categories:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Speed
  • Visualization

Attention: It’s the brain’s ability to focus on the details and leave unnecessary information. Attention is further categorized into attention to detail, sustained attention and alternating attention.

Memory: It’s the brain’s cognitive function that helps encode and store information and retrieve it when needed.

Speed: It’s the time between receiving and responding to a stimulus. It’s the time taken by a human to complete a mental task. It varies from person to person.

Visualization: It is a core function of the brain that helps in interpreting, attributing, and associating the information with visual perspectives.

The challenge for a recruiter is to compartmentalize the candidates based on these cognitive categories. As every job requires a particular core function, it is essential to recognize the candidate’s specific cognitive abilities necessary to complete a task. And that’s where role aptitudes tests gain prominence.

What is an Aptitude Test?

Aptitude tests are widely used for evaluating the candidates’ intelligence and abilities. There can be different formats of testing, depending on job requirements. These tests are designed to gauge how candidates perform certain tasks or solve problems.

Aptitude assessment tests provide immediate insights into candidates’ abilities. They also enable the recruiters to look beyond the resume and work experience of the candidates. Interviews cannot reveal several abilities in the candidates. Aptitude tests online can objectively measure the candidate’s cognitive ability. Aptitude tests are directly related to the quality of hire. Certain jobs seek specific skills or abilities in the candidates. For instance, It’s a must for a computer programmer to be sound in logical abilities.

Types of Aptitude Tests

Abstract Reasoning Test is about having a unique perspective toward a problem and identifying patterns and making logical connections between available facts and information. 

Spatial Reasoning Test evaluates the ability to visualize two and three-dimensional patterns and understand the spatial distribution of the objects.

Visual ReasoningTest is a test of imagination that evaluates the ability to create a mental image of the objects to conclude.

Verbal Ability Test evaluates a candidate’s language and comprehension abilities. It ensures excellent working skills and communication.

Logical and Critical Reasoning Test is about using the given information to find a result. It assesses a candidate’s ability to think logically.

Problem Solving Test is an evaluation of the ability to visualize the problem from diverse perspectives and find a solution based on the given information. 

Decision-Making and Judgment Test involves analyzing various alternatives to a problem to choose the most appropriate solution using logic and common sense.

Recruiters must understand that they must subject the candidates through the right kinds of tests. For example, suppose candidates are applying for the role of a business analyst. In that case, they are expected to possess decision-making skills, a knack for problem-solving and keen interest in data interpretation. 

Going by these essential skills, decision-making and judgment tests are a must. Logical reasoning will judge the candidates’ ability to connect the dots and extract insights from the bulk of data. An abstract reasoning test will also measure their perspective toward approaching a problem. 

Let’s take a detailed look to understand how aptitude assessments are helping in the recruitment process.

Read more about the Types of Aptitude tests and their applications.

What do Employers Look for in Aptitude Tests?

A recruiter’s key responsibility is to find the right candidates with skills corresponding to the given job. If we go back to the example mentioned-above of the recruitment of designers at Apple, Jony Ive’s question for the candidates was to describe the world as they saw it. It is an interesting way to know about the candidates’ perceptions of the world and gauge their visualization as a candidate’s perception and visualization help in making a good designer.

Aptitude tests evaluate and validate the particular abilities of the candidates. If we analyze the aptitude tests mentioned above, all of them evaluate different skills and abilities. Aptitude tests are effective mediums to help recruiters make a data-driven and reliable decision during the hiring process. Some of the most obvious benefits of the aptitude tests for the recruiters are mentioned below:

Lead Time

Every recruiter wants to keep the lead time at the lowest possible. After sourcing the candidates, screening them for the subsequent stages is one of the important factors that decide the recruitment process’s success. Aptitude tests can make sincere judgments of the candidate skills with a keen focus on the job requirements.


Aptitude tests ensure that a candidate coming to the final stage of the hiring process has all the needed skills to do the job. Aptitude tests help the recruiter to make an intense assessment of the candidates on various levels. If a basic reasoning test can screen candidates in the initial stage, other aptitude tests related to the particular role help select the right talent pool for the next stage.


Screening the candidates is the most cumbersome task for every recruiter. Thousands of applications pour in for a single job profile. Aptitude tests do screen the candidates in the initial stages of the recruitment process. Basic skills come before job-related skills. Aptitude tests can evaluate the candidates for the basic as well as job-related aptitude.


Maintaining objectivity throughout the recruitment process ensures that there will be diverse talents. Aptitude tests give equal opportunities to all the candidates irrespective of their educational background or work experience.


Aptitude tests are very cost-effective, and all you need to have a computer to conduct them. Thousands of candidates can appear for the tests together at the same time. Results are generated automatically, and there’s no need for human intervention to evaluate the candidates.


Aptitude tests also assure the good quality by ensuring the evaluation of candidates on various parameters. Aptitude tests help the recruiters to maintain a focused approach towards the recruitment process and ensure that only the competent candidates can go ahead in the subsequent stages.

However, if a recruiter has to find good talent, merely one or two skills doesn’t make a candidate an apt choice. A combination of skills decides whether a particular candidate will fulfill the job profile criteria and expectations. This combination of a variety of skills is called competency. 

A highly competent employee has expertise in several skills for job requirements. Thus, recruiters can use aptitude tests to choose candidates based on such a combination of skills. Let’s understand why recruiters should consider competencies while hiring.

Competency Framework

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, competency is a combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes that enhance employee performance, resulting in organizational success. It is important to define the various components of competencies to understand it better. 

Some companies define a competency framework for their recruitment process and the existing employees. A competency framework is a set of criteria that defines high-quality performance from the employees. 

  • A framework also helps in aligning the organizational priorities with the skills and capabilities of the employees.
  • Competency frameworks help in making clear expectations from the employees for their job performance to achieve the company’s vision and goals.
  • It helps in making a productive environment by clearly defining the KRAs to the employees.
  • Setting a benchmark of performance becomes easier, and it helps identify the training needs.
  • The competency framework also helps in succession planning and identifying organizational changes.

Using Competency-Based Assessment

Aptitude assessments help recruiters to match the candidate skills with different competencies defined in the framework. A competency-based assessment has several benefits. It offers clarity to the recruiter to focus on the specific skills related to different roles and positions. Many companies use competency frameworks that decide the candidate’s expected behavior and performance in a particular job role. Based on these competency frameworks, recruiters can decide how to proceed with the aptitude assessment.

According to the Talent Assessment Practices Survey, 64% of the respondents are using the competency model for recruitment.

Companies define certain requirements in the candidate when they undertake a recruitment process. For example, according to Microsoft’s recruitment process for technical roles, they have listed certain candidates’ expectations.

Such as:

  • Interest in technology
  • Ability to innovate
  • Creative thinking
  • Adapting to changing requirements
  • Problem-solving approach
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Handling feedback

Based on these requirements, a combination of skills for a technical role at Microsoft can be defined as creativity, innovative thinking and problem-solving. These are important cues for recruiters to plan a recruitment process and screen the candidates by using the relevant aptitude tests during the initial stages.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aptitude Tests

Aptitude tests make a recruiter’s life easier. A traditional approach is to look at the resumes and evaluate the candidate based on it. But aptitude tests help recruiters to understand the candidates beyond it. Theoretical questionnaires and interviews don’t do an objective assessment of the candidates. Aptitude tests come with certain metrics to evaluate the candidates objectively. It works as an effective screening tool that can speed up the hiring process with a result-oriented approach.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Aptitude Tests

Read more about the Advantages and Disadvantages of Aptitude Tests.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

We, at Mercer | Mettl, design competency-specific assessment solutions that are driven by statistical data insights. A variety of tests are available to evaluate the candidates’ aptitude, but not all the tests provide reliable results. Only a well-crafted aptitude test that includes all the essential elements of human intelligence can deliver the intended results. 

Measuring Cognitive Intelligence

While measuring intelligence, we firstly define the cluster of abilities and skills directly related to the job role. These skills and abilities are cumulatively known as competency. A good competency test considers all the essential competencies. 

We understand the importance of identifying the key competencies to evaluate fluid and crystallized intelligence, which is why we have well-crafted aptitude tests that ensure a thorough evaluation with insightful results. Aptitude tests from Mercer | Mettl measure core brain skills, such as attention, memory and speed. 

Mercer | Mettl’s Job Categorization Framework

Every job comes with particular tasks, and completing them needs certain competencies. We can easily derive the core competencies using different types of aptitude tests, depending on the nature of the job. Mercer | Mettl job categorization has defined three core competencies that work everywhere irrespective of the job. These three competencies are defined as:

Information Processing- Defined as the ability to use available information using numerical and analytical reasoning.

Solution Generation- Finding creative solutions to the existing problems using abstract reasoning.

Decision-making- Solving problems using rational and logical thinking. It also involves the ability to think ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions.

After defining these core competencies, two main factors are related to each competency, and they are:

Frequency- How often an individual uses these competencies in a day-to-day job.

Difficulty Level- What is the difficulty level of the tasks related to these competencies.

Depending on the difficulty level and frequency of the need, a particular competency defines the individual’s overall performance. For example, a business analyst’s job role involves information processing and decision-making on a daily basis. In the absence of these two factors, it’s not easy for a person to take up a job irrespective of its difficulty level. Mercer | Mettl’s job categorization framework offers a transparent picture of the different job roles. The scores from the aptitude tests help evaluate according to the essential competencies.

There are different types of aptitude tests from Mercer | Mettl that cover all the essential competencies in the spectrum of jobs:

  • Abstract Reasoning Tests
  • Spatial Reasoning Tests
  • Visual Reasoning Tests
  • Verbal Ability Tests
  • Logical & Critical Reasoning Tests
  • Problem-Solving Tests
  • Decision-Making & Judgment Test

It is equally necessary for the recruiters to know the type of aptitude tests and the respective job roles for evaluating candidates.

  • Verbal Ability is apt for managerial roles, corporate communication, PR-related jobs. It is a type of test that can be used for all kinds of recruitments. Verbal ability ensures that individuals can easily convey and communicate their thoughts.
  • Visual Reasoning Since it is related to strategic thinking and visualization, it is incredibly useful in recruiting graphic designers, computer programmers, advertising professionals, system designers and system analysts.
  • Logical Ability- It is related to quick decision-making and concluding with the help of facts and available information. It can be used to recruit HR professionals, managerial roles, computer programmers, etc. -precisely any job that involves a logical approach to a problem.
  • Decision-making- It is apt to recruit for roles such as management professionals, HR professionals, senior-level executives, project managers, business analysts, etc. It is an effective way to evaluate candidates for the jobs that have decision-making as a part of the daily work.
  • Abstract Reasoning- It involves identifying patterns and analyzing complex problems. It is suitable to recruit mechanical engineers, design engineers, product designers, architects, system designers and others.
  • Spatial Reasoning- It is about visualizing two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes and objects. Such tests are suitable for recruiting designers, engineers, and architects who deal with shapes, patterns and objects.

Aptitude Tests for Different Scale of Businesses

Aptitude tests help make a cognitive-based assessment and ensure that selected candidates have undergone a comprehensive and data-driven process. Companies focusing on a competency have a better understanding of their expectations from the candidates. However, aptitude tests are equally relevant for small and medium-sized businesses. There are some important reasons for this statement.


You customize the tests as per the needs and scale of the recruitment process. For example, the evaluation of thousands of applicants or an individual candidate can be easily conducted using the aptitude tests. Similarly, if you evaluate a candidate for a senior position, then the evaluation requirements would be different.

A Battery of Tests-

You can use various tests available and pick out the right kind of test depending on the job requirements. You can also decide on the weightage of these tests. For example, a candidate for a designing profile has a higher weightage for creativity and visual reasoning than verbal ability.

Combination of Assessments-

Aptitude tests are used in combination. You can combine multiple-aptitude tests for a more focused approach. Ensure that the candidates finally going to the interview stage have the essential capabilities.

Free Aptitude Tests for Practice

You can take a test to understand the battery of tests from Mercer | Mettl covers almost every essential aspect of cognitive assessment. You can take these tests as many times as you like.

Mettl Learning Agility Test

Evaluates the leadership skills and ability to learn and apply new things. It also tests how a person can learn from his own experiences. Most high potentials are agile learners. Take a free agility test to understand the concept.

General Mental Ability Test

These tests evaluate the abilities to understand the verbal information, work with numerical problems, data interpretation and questions based on pie charts and graphs. Take a free mental ability test to check your mental abilities.

Entry Level Aptitude Test

Evaluate if a candidate can logically perform a task. It includes numerical and logical reasoning problems and verbal ability problems for candidates from 0 to 1 years of experience. Take a free aptitude test to test your basic aptitude level.

Attention to Detail

Attention is a core function of the brain that is required in all kinds of jobs. This test evaluates a candidate’s ability to pay attention to details and leave out the unnecessary information. Here is a free test for attention to detail.

Mettl Test for Critical Thinking

It evaluates the candidate’s ability to reason and look at the problem with a critical approach. Evaluate your critical thinking with a free critical thinking aptitude test.

Case Analysis and Decision-Making Skills

This test assesses the candidates for their ability to analyze various aspects of a problem with a keen interest in the details. Test your decision-making skills with a free test here.

Spatial Reasoning Assessments

It checks the candidate’s ability to work with two and three-dimensional shapes, patterns and designs. Questions include shapes matching, shapes rotation, combining shapes, cube views in 3-dimensions, etc. Take a free spatial reasoning test to evaluate your spatial reasoning abilities.

Mettl Test for Abstract Reasoning

It’s a test of the ability to make logical connections between different concepts through lateral thinking and looking at a problem with a unique approach. Here is a free abstract reasoning test for your practice.

Aptitude Test for Reasoning Ability

Reasoning ability tests evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyze the given information and break it down into a logical pattern to find a solution. Take a free reasoning ability test to check up on your reasoning abilities.

Mettl Test for Verbal Reasoning

A test for language and communication skills with well-crafted questions in English usage. It also evaluates the candidate’s ability to find the difference between facts, arguments and inferences. Take a free verbal reasoning ability test to measure your comprehension of the English language.

Mettl Test for Logical Reasoning

It tests the candidate’s ability to think logically to arrive at a logical conclusion. Problems include various skills like solving puzzles, problems related to arrangements, and deductions. Take a free logical reasoning test and assess your reasoning abilities.

Mettl Test for Numerical Reasoning

These tests include problems related to basic arithmetic operations, analyze graphs and tabular data. Numerical reasoning is an important skill for various business processes. Here is a free numerical reasoning test for you.

Data Interpretation Skill Test

It tests the candidate’s ability to analyze the given data set, identify patterns, and analyze the figures for result-oriented insights. Take a free data interpretation test to understand the concept.

Verbal Ability Test

It evaluates the candidates’ language skills through problems related to practical English usage, reading comprehension and questions related to grammar. Here is a free verbal ability test for self-assessment.

Mettl Cognitive Abilities Assessment

It tests an individual’s ability to learn, absorb and apply the information to solve the problems. Cognitive abilities include abstract reasoning and critical thinking. Take a free cognitive ability test to check how good you are in processing information.

English Reading Comprehension Test

It tests the ability of the candidate to comprehend English passages and answer questions based on it. Reading comprehension focuses on the candidate’s ability to skim and find the necessary information from the given text. Take a free reading comprehension test to evaluate your understanding of the English language.

General Aptitude Test

It’s a mix of all kinds of tests, including numerical reasoning, verbal ability, logical reasoning, data interpretation and other reasoning skills. Take a free general ability test to assess all types of aptitude together.

As mentioned, different kinds of aptitude tests have distinct purposes. Mercer | Mettl aptitude tests are primarily used in:

Mercer | Mettl aptitude tests are primarily used in

At Mercer | Mettl, we understand that only employees who possess the necessary skills can further their organizational objectives. We have designed our cognitive assessments to ensure that the hired individuals possess the necessary skills, and can apply the acquired knowledge. The talent pool of the company depends on the accuracy of the assessment. Identifying the right talent for your company is one of the essential steps toward making your organization successful. Once you identify the right candidates, it is equally necessary to deploy them according to their abilities in the appropriate job roles. Effective and well-designed aptitude tests from Mercer | Mettl fulfill such needs of the hiring process and are equipped to empower recruiters in every possible way.


How do I pass an aptitude test?

There are few practices that you can follow to do well in the aptitude tests-

  • Practice different types of aptitude tests
  • Practice tests in a specified time only
  • Focus on your weak areas and practices them more
  • Take a variety of tests to check up on your skills
  • Practice daily  

What are some examples of aptitude tests?

Different types of aptitude tests are used for different purposes. For example if we look at the three main aptitude tests that are used for hiring, Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, Logical Reasoning.

Quantitative Ability- This tests mainly does the assessment of the candidates for their numerical abilities and how good they are with numbers.

Verbal Ability- Mainly assesses the language skills of the candidates and also evaluates how good they are in comprehending the english language and express through words.

Logical Reasoning- It evaluates the logical ability of the candidates by how candidates can deduce a result by using logic with the available information. 

Are aptitude tests hard?

No, the difficulty level of the aptitude test questions can be decided as per the need of assessment. A fresher can be given an entry level aptitude test whereas a candidate with several years of experience can be put through a different test.

Can you practice for aptitude tests?

Yes, there are aptitude tests available for practice. You can practice some of the tests here,

What is a good score on an aptitude test?

Aptitude tests do a relative scoring so it depends on how all the candidates score in the test. The benchmark is decided by the maximum score in the test.

Originally published August 31 2020, Updated December 21 2020

Vipul Srivastav

Written by

Vipul Srivastav is a seasoned marketing professional with expertise in branding and communication. He writes on numerous web platforms to share his views and experiences on various topics. In his free time, he does photography, reads fiction, listens to U2, and stays curious about the outer space.

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