Testing plays a huge role in the hiring process, and higher scores increase the likelihood of getting the call with a job offer. When it comes to tests, there is no substitute for knowledge. However, there are a number of things you can do to give you the edge you need to bump your score up a few points. And that could be the difference between heading to your new job on Monday or spending another day clicking through help wanted ads.
1. Rule the Rules
It’s important to really understand the content and structure of the test you are about to take because some have serious time constraints. For example, the McQuaig Mental Agility Test (MMAT) gives test-takers 15 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions.
The time limit on these tests impose a different test-taking strategy than you might use on an untimed test. In an untimed version, you could focus on each question and work out the correct answer. Your strategy must adapt to the time constraint, bearing in mind whether or not there is a penalty for guessing wrong answers.
The MMAT questions cover math, reasoning, and comprehension. If you’re strong in English and logic but weak in math, your best chance for success lies in answering every reasoning and comprehension question while spending as little time as possible on the math questions.
Before you begin your test, calculate how much time you’ll have for each question. Talk to your test administrator to determine whether or not there is a penalty for getting answers wrong, and then form a plan in your head that will allow you to get through as much of the test as possible. This will allow you to shine on the sections that you know well.
2. Master the Unknown
As mentioned earlier, there is no substitute for knowledge, but just because you don’t know the materials doesn’t mean you can’t get through it. Timed tests in particular are generally designed in such a way that you can quickly eliminate some of the answers. The test writers know you won’t have time to work out every problem with a pencil and paper.
They also tend to include some questions that even someone with just a rudimentary understanding should be able to answer correctly.
Taken together, it means if you are facing a section that you don’t feel confident in, and there are 15 questions in that section, you should be able to easily answer 3 of them. The other 12 will likely have 1-2 answers that you can eliminate immediately.
If you simply guessed on those 12 questions in a four-answer multiple choice test, the odds are you would get 25% correct, or 3 right answers. Combine those three correct answers with the 3 easy questions, and you have answered 6 out of 15 correct, or 40% right.
However, when you begin to eliminate answers that are clearly wrong, you tip the balance in your favor. Instead of having a 25% chance of guessing right, you can increase your odds to 50%. In tests where every correct answer might put you ahead of your competition, you need to do everything in your control to score right answers.
3. “Reading, Fast and Slow”
This strategy may seem basic, and even counterintuitive on a tightly timed test, but reading every question twice will protect you from incorrectly answering questions that you know.
Some questions ask for the best answer out of several choices, while other questions may ask which of the following is NOT part of a group. Still other questions include catchall answers like “All of the above” or “None of the above.”
Skimming through questions and answering them quickly might seem like a great way to get through the test, but if you skip over that word “not,” or don’t realize that there are multiple correct answers on the list and you need to pick the best answer, you are at risk of getting the answer wrong.
These questions are not only designed to test your knowledge, but to test your ability to read carefully and make well-thought out decisions.
It’s Time to Pass that Test
When we think about tests, we tend to revert back to our school days. Teachers drove home the notion that the only way to pass a test was to study the material. While it’s true that there is no substitute for having a solid grasp of the content being covered on the test, strategies like these bring you closer to your dream job.