Cognitive ability tests

Cognitive ability tests measure your reasoning skills in interpreting written information and reports, using figures, data and statistics, and understanding and manipulating abstract or logical symbols.

You may have been asked to complete this as part of a multi-method assessment process, or as a stand-alone assessment called Elements or Aspects. 

How does it work?

Ability tests measure your ability to perform or carry out different tasks and have been found to be the strongest predictor of future job performance. The tests most commonly used are:

  • Verbal reasoning - these are designed to measure your ability to interpret verbal information and reach correct conclusions. Verbal reasoning is important for any work involving the communication of ideas or the understanding of written information. It can also be important for work requiring analytical thinking.
  • Numerical reasoning - these are designed to measure your ability to analyze and draw inferences from numerical information and data. Numerical reasoning ability is important for a variety of roles where working with data is key.
  • Logical reasoning - these are designed to test your ability to analyze abstract information and apply this in determining outcomes and patterns. Logical reasoning ability is important for a variety of roles requiring complex problem solving.
  • Checking skills - these are designed to measure your ability to quickly and accurately detect errors in data.

We recommend that prior to starting the assessments, you take the time to familiarize yourself with the format and time allowances by completing our practice assessments, which can be accessed for free. Be cautious when subscribing to third party practice sites that charge to offer access to test content. These sites do not provide recognised content, and may not store your data or credit card details securely. Some may even contain viruses or present other security hazards. Please contact Customer Services if you would like more information. 

Adaptive testing

All of our cognitive ability tests are 'adaptive'. This means the system selects what questions to administer based on your previous responses and whether they were correct or incorrect.

You begin with a question of average difficulty. If you answer the question right within the time limit, you progress to a more difficult question. If you answer incorrectly, or fail to answer within the time limit, the system selects an easier question next. This process is repeated until you reach the end of your test.

As a result of the adaptive nature of the test, you will feel continuously challenged and stretched so don't worry if you feel the questions are difficult.

Speed and accuracy

When completing ability tests, it is important that you work both quickly and accurately to achieve your best score. Ensure you read each question and the response options carefully, while maintaining a good pace. Avoid skimming over the material presented and ensure you are fully focused on the information presented to you. Once you are satisfied you have the right answer, answer it and move on to the next question. While it is important to be accurate, procrastinating can waste time.

As you have a time limit for each question, the best strategy is to use the full time given and not to rush into an unconsidered answer. Always make sure that you understand what the time limits are, so that you can respond appropriately.


Your responses for each ability test are compared with the scores of a comparison group (i.e. a group of people who have previously completed the ability tests) and the result is given as a percentile (e.g. if your score is in the 75th percentile, you have done better than 75% of the sample population). 

You should receive feedback on your ability tests direct from the recruiter, hiring organization or your employer. Even if it isn't initially offered, don't be afraid to ask for feedback on your performance as it may help in future situations.