Prepare for Pre-employment Cognitive Ability Tests

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Pre-employment Cognitive Ability Tests are accurate predictors of your job performance and training success in almost every kind of job. They are powerful employment tests that measure various aspects of your mental abilities such as numerical reasoning, logical reasoning, verbal ability, memory, spatial reasoning, reading comprehension and so on. If you are applying for a position, the recruiter might want you to take one or more pre-employment tests. The cognitive ability tests or cognitive aptitude tests are common ones. The reports of such tests have scores calculated via standardized tools and therefore, are valid and reliable enough for them to make an unbiased judgment on your candidacy. The result information on your cognitive abilities is incredibly accurate and insightful which is impossible for a resume to convey.

Pre-employment tests are found in various kinds such as Matrigma Test, Wonderlic Personnel Test, Revelian Cognitive Ability Test, McQuaig Mental Agility Test, Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test, etc. Although all of these tests measure your mental abilities, they do vary in structure, content, time duration, style of questions, scoring system, administration mode and many other factors. They are categorized into three main groups: aptitude tests, personality tests, and skill tests. The aptitude tests measure your general mental intelligence and predict your suitability for any particular mid or senior position. The personality tests assess your behavioral tendencies and indicate whether or not they are inclined to the position. Similarly, the skill tests measure the knowledge you have acquired from work experience or education. These tests are powerful tools used by the employers to test your competency and success in various job positions.

What are The Tests Used For

Pre-employment Cognitive Ability Tests are extensively used by recruiters as employment tests in order to gauge your mental potential in dealing with problems at the workplace before hiring you as an employee. Generally, such tests, especially the cognitive ability tests, assess various aspects of your mental abilities such as reasoning, perception, memory, verbal ability, logical ability and problem-solving skills. Some tests also assess your more specific mental abilities like spatial relations, number series completion, reading comprehension, verbal analogies, etc. They have the standardized and reliable way of scoring for all different types of formats including true-false, short answer, multiple choices and so on. There are different kinds of pre-employment cognitive ability tests such as Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test, Matrigma Test, Wonderlic Personnel Test, Object Recognition Test, Watson Glaser Test and so on all of which differ in their administration mode, content, structure, etc. For instance, Matrigma Test, which measures your problem-solving, logical ability and ability to draw conclusions, is distinguished for its high dependability due to its randomized items and responses. Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test focuses more on your logical and math, verbal reasoning and spatial reasoning to determine success for various types of jobs. Similarly, Object Recognition Test is unique in assessing your visual abilities through complex x-ray images of luggage.

The pre-employment tests enable recruiters to know about your abilities in a way that resumes cannot. In addition, if you are assessed through one or more of such tests by the employers, you are less likely prone to subjective bias when they make hiring decisions. It is because they have all the objective and reliable information gathered with the help of standardized tools. All of these things mean the best hiring decisions and huge saving for your employers.

Tests Categories

Pre-employment ability tests are of different kinds and they are broadly classified into three main categories: (1) Aptitude tests (2) Personality tests, and (3) Skills tests.

(1) Aptitude Tests: Aptitude is considered as the most accurate predictor of your job success. Aptitude tests are the tests that emphasize on measuring your critical thinking, problem-solving, ability to learn new things and apply new information. They are used to test your general mental abilities required for almost every kind of jobs. But they are usually beneficial if you are applying for mid- or higher-level jobs. Qualities like problem-solving skills and ability to learn new concepts are especially valuable to most of the employers but they can’t assess these qualities of yours via a mere resume. The cognitive aptitude tests do all that for your employers giving them an accurate insight about your aptitude through a report that is two times powerful as your job interviews, three times powerful as your previous work experience and four times powerful as the level of your education. Criteria Cognitive Ability Test one kind of aptitude test.

(2) Personality Tests: If you are applying for a job, the personality test is one you are likely to face because personality tests are gaining more and more attraction among the recruiters these days. Unlike many other assessment tests, these tests have no right or wrong answers. However, they are powerful recruitment tests that reveal whether or not you will be comfortable in a particular role and have behavior traits inclined to the position. In other words, they are indicators of how good match you are to the role and culture of the company. Big Five or Five Factor Model is the most common or widely used personality test which measures five aspects of your personality: Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Openness and Stress Tolerance. For instance, if you want a sales or customer service position, it might be expected that you score high on extraversion and openness and low on stress tolerance and agreeableness. Personality tests seek to find out whether you are comfortable in doing a job rather than whether you are capable of that. Customer service personality tests and integrity tests are two popular kinds of personality tests.

(3) Skills Tests: Skills are what you have acquired through your education and career life. Skill tests gauge the kinds of knowledge you have gained through experiences, such as verbal skills, math skills, communication skills and even typing, printing, office skills, etc. Most often skill tests can assess your micro skills such as typing speed, ability to use specific software, etc which indicate your readiness skill or competency for the job. However, such skill tests, unlike aptitude tests and personality tests, never predict your job performance in the long run.

Following are brief explanation of ten kinds of popular pre-employment tests each under one of the three above categories:

Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT)

Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) is a kind of cognitive ability test which accurately predicts your success on every type of jobs. Developed by a company called Criteria, this scientifically valid and accurate online test is widely used by recruiters to test your critical thinking, problem-solving, learning ability and ability to apply new information. In this test, you are assessed on three main aspects of cognition: (1) Logic & Math (2) Verbal Reasoning, and (3) Spatial Reasoning with 50 questions to be answered within 15 minutes. Due to the fact that CCAT delivers you with a quick and insightful report, several organizations rely on this recruitment test for their hiring process. A CCAT report consists of raw scores, percentile ranking, and sub-scores which clearly reveal your individual cognitive ability as well as your relative cognitive ability with respect to other participants of the test.

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Elevator Industry Aptitude Test (EIAT)

Elevator Industry Aptitude Test (EIAT), developed by International Union of Elevator Construction and National Elevator Industry, is an employment test which helps to enhance your skill and knowledge in the elevator industry. As the name indicates, EIAT simply measures your aptitude to work in the elevator industry. This cognitive aptitude test has two parts: (1) A pre-apprenticeship aptitude test in which you should obtain a minimum of 70% score in order to pass. (If you fail, you need to re-apply for that.), and (2) A 15-20 minutes test-interview conducted by Joint Apprenticeship Committee where you will be interviewed by several interviewers and your final interview score will be the average of two of your highest scores. In EIAT, The first part assesses your reading comprehension, mechanical ability, and numerical ability whereas the second part assesses your behavior, personality, work experience, school report, and mechanical skills and so on. The final EIAT score is thus created by the 4-tier system in the final assessment.

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Matrigma Test

Matrigma is Assessio International’s classical recruitment test which determines your job success by assessing your cognitive abilities like problem-solving, logical ability and ability to draw conclusions with 35 questions to be responded within 40 minutes. Also known as Hogan Matrigma, this cognitive ability test gives you an instant report, which contains reliable and accurate information, immediately after you complete the test. You also get a relative score which is the score against other people who took Matrigma test. Matrigma Test features its flexibility to administer which, here, implies that you can take it with or without supervision. Due to randomization of questions and response alternatives, no two people can take the same test making it one of the most dependable pre-employment test.

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McQuaig Mental Agility Test (MMAT)

McQuiag Mental Agility Test (MMAT), formerly known as McQuiag Occupational Test, measures your normal mental agility like the speed of thought and other aspects of intelligence needed to perform a job. With a set of 50 multiple choice questions and a time limit of 15 minutes, the test aims to assess your ability to think, learn and quickly grasp new information. The questions are based on vocabulary, reasoning, and mathematics. The result of the test determines your mental intelligence for performing a job which is impossible for a resume to do. MMAT is, in fact, a personality test to assess your core temperament as an employee. So there is no system of pass or fail. If you want to take the cognitive ability test, go to the McQuiag website and enroll yourself.

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NJATC Aptitude Test

National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) collaborates with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Association (NECA) to form an Electrical Training Alliance which aims to provide you, who want to be electrical apprentices, with the latest training programs of the electrical construction. If you’re looking forward to becoming both licensed electrician and certified technician, NJATC aptitude test is going to help you. This pre-employment test consists of two sections: algebra and reading comprehension both of which you are required to compete within 2.5 hours. In order to pass the test, you must obtain a minimum score of 4 out of 9. If you’re interested to enroll into an electrical apprenticeship program, you can begin this test by first filling out an application form online.

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Object Recognition Test (ORT) and XRAY Test

Object Recognition Test (ORT) and XRAY Test is a more challenging and one of the two tests of Transportation Security Test (TSA) which you must pass if you are looking for a position of pre-boarding screening officer. After you are assessed on Basic English skills in the first section, you need to identify particular objects in X-ray images in the second section of ORT. Here you will be presented with complex X-ray images of luggage out of which you will need to identify objects like a hammer, gun, knife, etc that are hiding behind or blending with other objects. And this, you must do it within 15 seconds. Sometimes, the objects to be identified are less threatening such as bottles, chargers, shoes, etc.

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Predictive Index Learning Indicator Test (PILI)

Predictive Index Learning Indicator (also PILI or PI Learning Indicator) is a comprehensive employment test for measuring your mental abilities. It was formerly known as Professional Index Learning Indicator. This test mainly tests on your current skills or readiness to perform a role. For instance, your degree mentioned in a resume doesn’t necessarily indicate how actively you have earned it even though it might be relevant to the applied position. PILI, therefore, highlights on assessing your zeal to learn and grasp new things apart from the degree you have already achieved in the past. With 50 questions and time limit of 12 minutes, it accurately judges your learning capacity, thinking capacity, and knowledge acquisition. Like many other pre-employment tests, this test is scientifically approved and produces the report that only reveals accurate and reliable information about your cognitive abilities.

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Cognitive Ability Test (RCAT)

Revelian Cognitive Ability Test or RCAT is a well-known recruitment test used by the recruiters who seek to hire innovative employees. If you have the ability to easily process numeric, abstract or verbal information, this 51-questions test with 20 minutes test won’t be a big deal for you. It is all about being tested for high mental ability and great problem-solving skills which cannot be presented through your resume or an interview. RCAT is the assessment tool distinguished for its ability to measure your thinking capacity beyond limits or higher level of cognitive skills with a broad range of tough questions. If you want to take RCAT, it is readily available online.

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Watson Glaser Test (WGCTA)

In order to measure your critical thinking skills, Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Test (WGCTA) or Watson Glaser Test was created by Goodwin Watson and Edward Glaser. Critical thinking means thinking creatively, reasonably and also creatively by linking information from various sources to a particular problem. WGCTA is a pre-employment test which has 40 items and 30 minutes as the time limit to accurately gauge different aspects of your critical thinking skills such as identifying assumptions, accessing arguments and drawing conclusions on the basis on assumptions. Since this is all about critical thinking skills, you might be expected to have high problem-solving skills the ability to analyze pros and cons before making a conclusion. It is used by the recruiters wanting to hire talented people for the post of managers or future leaders. It is available for you to take online as well as on paper and is found in English, French, Dutch and Spanish language.

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Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT)

Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) specializes on assessing your cognitive abilities such as learning a specific task, solving problems, following instructions, adapting existing knowledge to new situations, benefitting from training and being satisfied with a particular job. The result of this test gives the employers or hiring managers an idea, of your future job performance and retention enabling them to make the best hiring decision. WPT questions are based on math, vocabulary, and grammar that test your complex mental abilities like abstract thinking, logical thinking, serial thinking, critical thinking and complex math problems.

Wonderlic’s scoring system is advanced, standardized and valid to accurately predict your job potential. WPT consists of two versions: Wonderlic Personnel Test Quickest (WPT-Q) with 30 questions and 8 minutes time limit and Wonderlic Personnel Test-Revised (WPT-R) with 50 questions and 12 minutes time limit. If you are able to pass WPT-Q, then only you might be asked to take WPT-R which is a full-length test. It is available online and can be taken individually or in a large group.

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Sample Questions

Sample Questions for Aptitude Tests:

  1. Complete the following sequence:

16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 0.5, 0.25, ___

  1. A bus covers 40 meters in 0.4 seconds. With that speed, how much distance can it cover in 1.6 seconds?
  2. Here is a series of diagrams that are in logical order. Which option from the right is in a logical order with one of the sequences on the left?
  3. Select the next number in the sequence:

2, 6, 10, 30, 34, ?

  1. 37
  2. 42
  3. 60
  4. 64
  5. 102
  6. Select the picture that should be in the empty space:

Sample Questions for Personality Tests:

  1. How does the following statement affect your motivation? : If my employer expects me to take responsibilities towards work, my motivation towards the work…

a. Is greatly reduced.
b. Tends to get reduced.
c. Is not affected at all.
d. Tends to increase.
e. Is greatly increased.

  1. Choose one of the following statements that best describes you and the one that least describes you:

a. I like to help others.
b. I love to analyze things.
c. Most of my imaginations are realistic in nature.
d. I organize my life with the help of a diary.

  1. I can estimate the amount of time I need to do a task

Always ————Sometimes———- Never

  1. Before making a decision, I need to weigh all the pros and cons

Always ————Sometimes———– Never

  1. I see myself as someone who is stable and calm and not easily disappointed by outer circumstances.

Tips for Passing

Below are some valuable tips for passing your pre-employment cognitive ability tests:

1. At first, you should get information about the type of you’re going to take from your employer. If not, reach out to them and ask for it.

2. Take advantage of free pre-employment tests available online or offline for practicing or getting familiar with the format and time frame of the tests.

3. Especially remember to pay attention to what kind of questions they are and how they are presented. Try to complete your free pre-employment test within the given time limit. Using a stopwatch might be helpful.

4. It is always a good idea to calculate the amount of time you can spend on each question so that you can spend your time wisely on the questions using a stopwatch during the actual employment test too.

5. If you are going to take it online, get a scrap paper ready aside.

6. Try to be quick and careful at the same time. Stay alert to the questions that are tricky.

7. Before taking the real test, do practice with at least a couple of free pre-employment tests. Be absolutely comfortable with the number, length, subject matter and style of questions.

8. Be sure to get familiarity with attitude, personality and skill tests as per your requirement for the desired role.

9. While doing your practice tests, ensure that your environmental conditional is realistic too. Choose a quiet place.

10. Some pre-employment cognitive ability tests might not allow you to take notes or use scrap papers. So be informed about such details beforehand. In case you feel the need to take notes, you can use the technique of visualization.

11. Don’t be stuck at a question for a long time if you are not sure of the answer. You can come back to the remaining or unanswered questions after responding to the ones that you are sure of. Also, remember to double-check the answers to the early questions as they are usually too simple for you to have answered correctly.

12. In case of multiple choice questions, stop the normal urge of guessing the right answer. Instead, take a deep breath and use logic.

13. Maintain a calm and confident attitude before and during the test. If you feel stressed, you might feel careless, indecisive or irritated which might affect your cognitive ability tests.

14. In case of personality tests, it is important that you are consistent because many questions of such tests pertain to a particular personality trait. You might have several personas in life but make sure to portray only your professional persona in there.

15. Some aptitude tests do not allow you to skip questions. If you find yourself bogged down on some difficult questions, learn to make the best guess or simply move on after spending a reasonable amount of time on them.

16. And yes! Don’t forget to go through the instructions or guidelines thoroughly before beginning to answer the questions.

Free Tests Resources

Covered Cognitive Ability Tests


The Predictive Index Learning Indicator (PI Learning Indicator) previously known as Professional Learning Indicator (PLI) is a comprehensive test, designed to assess the cognitive abilities of the hires.
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Previously known as OCAT, the RCAT is a psychometric test from Revelian Company which requires candidates to process numeric, abstract or verbal info to have innovative people on board.
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XRAY Test is one of the most challenging and competitive tests of Transportation Security Administration Test (TSA) for you to pass if you are looking for a position of Transportation Security Officer (TSO) at an airport. In general, TSA Computer Based Test consists of two sections.
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Initially developed by Goodwin Watson and Edward Glaser, Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal test is designed to understand candidate’s critical thinking skills.
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Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) by Wonderlic Inc. is a powerful assessment tool that measures your cognitive abilities for companies to decide your suitability for a job position.
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Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test is an aptitude test created by Criteria and it measures your critical thinking, problem-solving skill, learning ability and ability to apply new information.
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Created by the International Union of Elevator Construction (IUEC) and National Elevator Industry, Inc., the NEIEP (National Elevator Industry Educational Program) is a joint labor-management and education program that serves the IUEC industry.
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Previously known as McQuaig Occupational Test, McQuaig Mental Agility test or MMAT is a 15-minute, time-bounded test aims to measure one’s general mental agility, the speed of thought and other aspects of intelligence that are required for the job.
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The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training committee along with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Association (NECA) form an Electrical Training Alliance to help electrical apprentices to get up-to-date training initiatives of the electrical construction of industry.
Read more


Matrigma, developed by Assessio International, is a classical assessment that measures your cognitive ability on a modern and safe web platform. It is a powerful tool to determine or predict your job performance.
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