3 Aug 2010

Interesting statistics on test taker behavior / similar to the 'real world'?

We make quite a fuss about the fact that test preparers need to do thorough, systematic practice to do well in numerical ability tests. This is a competitive market and you don't want to be unprepared.

Having said that, we are surprised when we look at the statistics on numericalguru.

One would assume that our paid members do all the tests from the pack. Well, it turns out that nearly 80% of them do not! On our site, we have 11 tests for a total of 225 minutes, and that's just under 4 hours of total practice time - and it is our belief that you need to do a thorough 1-round of all tests. But we're wrong - most members do about 6 tests on an average.

Among those who take advantage of our free numerical ability tests, nearly 50% abandon their tests without even completing 1/2 of the questions on average, and only about 15% actually finish the full test. There could be many reasons - found it too hard/easy (think not!), was just 'checking out', tests weren't what they hoped for (psychometric assessments take many forms) and so on - but it is still a surprising find.

The performance curve we see is almost indicative of the real-world. We have a few of them who do very well the first time, and they are naturally positioned to do well in real job assessments. We also see the heartening aspect of many test takers who do the same test more than once - this is precisely what test-takers weak in quantitative ability should do. Do the test more than once, get those questions right where you got them wrong, and then proceed to the next test. But again, this is a minority.

For some, this may be sufficient as they begin to peak on their performance. For some others, it is a case of change of priorities, but for the rest - it is a case of fatigue. Sometimes this fatigue comes from having done many tests from different sites. We have previously commented on the topic of 'how long do I need to prepare for my tests'.

What you want to do choose a time period when you will pay intense focus on the tests. Do all of them systematically, observe your performance indicators (accuracy / correctness), and do all the tests in a pack - whether it is ours or someone else's. Doing fragmented 1-2 tests from 'all over' makes it very hard to get a good grip on consistent improvement. And it is indeed a pity if you do not take advantage of all the tests available in a pack.

So what are our three key tips to you on this?

1. Mentally prepare yourself for a few days of intense focus. Please do ALL the tests

2. After each test, analyze your performance, and do the test again if needed. Do not blindly jump to the next one. You will often find surprising patterns in how you do tests, and we provide you question-by-question performance to figure this out!

3. Don't abandon a test mid-way because it was too hard. When you start, mentally prepare yourself to FINISH it. Don't assume that 'it's easy for everyone else', it probably isn't! The same situation exists in the real-world too.

We would say that this may be a reasonably good representation, but with the absense of any other similar site providing such insights maybe numericalguru has to go at it alone!


  1. Really interesting findings. Thank you so much for posting them, it helps to see what, on average, others do in terms of practicing these tests. Thank you!

  2. Very useful post! I have always worried about how my competitors do in these tests. Please continue to post such findings. I am curious to know the most common types of mistakes people make. BTW Good tests as well, good luck.

  3. Have tried to take a test but keep getting error after submitting first answer so cannot progress - wonder how many others have encountered this

  4. Anon - we've faced a few server issues last couple of days, it's random but did affect a couple of members. Apologies for the inconvenience.

  5. Fantastic post, I found out the website today and I am very glad. The findings in this post are very interesting and give you a bit of hope too! Great job.

  6. I have never been asked to do one of these tests as part on an interview process.

    I have just been made redundant and started jon hunting. I got a call on Friday asking if I could complete an SHL test by the Monday - certainly not enough time to do 240 practice tests.

    Maybe other people find themselves in this predicament and that is why your members only complete a small number of test - most people wouldn't have the luxury of months to practice.

    I failed the test but aced the verbal so they are giving me one mpre chance to pass the numerical. Needless to say I am not holding out too much hope if it really does take this long to perfect.

    Great Website though!

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    We don't have 240 tests! Just 240 questions -- even then, it is true that many don't complete them. We find it interesting as well, but as we keep saying - you have to persevere.

    It does not take "too long" - but a few weeks of dedicated, very focused practice can yield significant improvement.

  8. such good tips for me, numericalguru!