Numeracy tests

Numeracy tests require you to understand numbers, interpret data and read charts and graphs. They are concerned with the four basic arithmetic operations:

  1. Number sequences
  2. Simple mathematics
  3. Numerical estimation problems
  4. The use of numerical data to solve problems 

Most numerical tests assess your level of understanding akin to intermediate GCSE (high school) level expectations. For jobs in the city you might be required to demonstrate a level similar to A Level maths.  

Topics you might face include Fractions, Decimals, Percentages, Elementary Algebra, Powers, Coordinates & Graphs, the Straight Line, Simple Linear Equations, Simultaneous Equations, Quadratic Equations, Approximations, Averages, Ratios, Progressions, Tables.

In some numerical tests you may be allowed to use a calculator, in others you may not. You will typically be asked to make a decision: Which of the options is correct, if any? Can the answer be deduced from the data presented?

You will be given a time limit and must complete your test within that time. Time limits are usually quite tight. Whilst you have the ability to reach the level of mathematical understanding required, the time restrictions are often the most challenging part of the assessment.

You’ll need to be in at least the 50/60th percentile to go through to the next recruitment stage, which will be closer to the 80/90th in banking. Percentile ranges are based on graduate level averages, which might differ to the level on practice tests.

Advice

Leading up to the test

  • Practice – it will help increase your speed, accuracy and familiarity with the tests
  • Focus your revision on your weaker topic areas
  • Create a study group with your friends
  • Complete Sudoku and brain training exercises, add up your shopping, interpret data in the press, etc. Use your numerical skills in everyday life
  • Check the employer’s website, they might have some advice or practice tests

During the test

  • Manage your time - cover the clock over with tape to avoid time-pressured-panic
  • Estimate, to save time
  • Begin by making sure you understand the question properly. Read and digest the data provided, check what is being shown before answering the questions.
  • Scan through all the questions first (if the test allows for this); answer areas you are most confident on to increase your score
  • Complete your test in a quiet environment
  • Get some sleep the night before the test!

Perfect the basics

Whether you are on a quantitative course or not, you can improve your performance and confidence by practicing the basics.

  1. Attempt a test – try LSE Careers’ subscription to GraduatesFirst (or one of the numerous tests below)
  2. Read their results report and use your own intuition about areas you need to practice i.e. ratios, percentages, interpreting tables and graphs, decimals, etc. (see a more detailed list below)
  3. Focus your revision and practice on these areas, with support from the following:
    • GCSE Bitesize
      A high school level website, covering the mathematics you need in numerical tests
    • FutureLearn
      A free course from the University of Loughborough, to learn the numeracy skills needed to help you pass your numeric tests
    • National numeracy challenge
      Helps you learn the maths needed for everyday life and the basics needed for success in numeracy tests
    • MathCentre
      Search for ‘Lingham’ to view all numeracy leaflets, which outline the basics, such as percentages, ratios, table and graph interpretation, currency and foreign exchange, shares and dividends, and much more
    • Books in the LSE Careers library, for example, Mike Bryon’s, How to pass graduate psychometric tests
    • Once you have completed your basics revision, try another online test and reassess your strengths and weaknesses

Practice

  • GraduatesFirst
    A subscription from LSE Careers that allows you to practice up to three numerical tests, receiving a report to help you identify your weaker areas
  • AssessmentDay
    Scroll down the numeric tests page to access two free tests, with worked examples
  • NumericalReasoningTest.org
    Three practice tests to get your teeth into
  • Practice Aptitude Tests 
    Access two twenty-minute numeric tests
  • CEBGlobal
    The home of employer-popular SHL tests
  • Cubiks
    One practice numerical test by another popular test provider
  • JobTestPrep
    One free practice test, with access to a financial services test package
  • Resources and more practice tests
    You'll find more websites offering practice tests and some sites which help you practice and revise on the LSE Careers website

Estimating

Estimating, rather than calculating precisely, can make things simpler and quicker. It often happens that, in a multiple choice problem where you have to pick the right answer from a list, you can:

  • work out the correct right hand digit, and eliminate many “answers”
  • work out (easily!) the approximate size, and eliminate many other “answers”

Putting the two together, it’s often possible to answer such a question with virtually no work at all (and certainly without calculating the relevant answer or its incorrect alternatives).

‘Advanced’ numerical test practice

During graduate level recruitment it would be unusual to face ‘advanced’ tests; these are mainly reserved for managerial positions. Often the perceived difficulty of a numerical test is the volume of questions you must answer alongside the strict time limit given. The level of graduate numerical tests is usually akin to intermediate GCSE level.

If you know you will be facing an advanced test, then the following websites should be useful as they contain tests which one might define as ‘advanced’. The term ‘advanced’ covers tests whereby each section includes a wealth of information/comprehension followed by a series of questions, or those with a financial technical element.

Mendas Financial Reasoning Test

25 minutes, 22 questions. Similar maths to SHL but lots more to read and digest in the time given. 3 practice questions on this link. Used by the FCA, Grant Thornton, Moore Stevens and RBS.

Talent-Q

Contains 12 questions. There are a few financial technical questions in the test, such as about dividends and shares.

IBM IPAT Test

Considered one of the hardest tests you can take. Three parts available, you will be asked to answer two. Tests numerical talent and verbal reasoning too. For IBM.

Oliver Wyman Numerical Reasoning Test

Again, considered one of the more difficult tests you will face. 30 questions to complete in 20 minutes, and negative marking. For Oliver Wyman.

Rust Advanced Numerical Reasoning Appraisal (RANRA)

There are 21 questions to try in 30 minutes. Questions need a bit of thought but aren’t as comprehension heavy as some more complex advanced tests.

Cut-e

Only 6 questions available to practice but questions involve looking through a series of tabs to find the correct answer. Currently used by BNP Paribas, among others.

McKinsey

Some of the questions are a combination of comprehension and numerical data.

Saville Consulting

Three questions to work through. Some nice examples, some harder than others (the analysis section, numerical in particular).

Numerical Test Practice

Lacks the comprehension element often visible in advanced tests, but the maths makes you think! One free test available.

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