How this affects you
Ability tests are usually presented in a multiple-choice question and answer format for completion either online or in person at one of our offices. All questions have a single correct response and alternative incorrect responses. Your achievement is measured on the basis of the number of correct answers you can provide in the time allowed. The best strategy for tests of this nature is to work as quickly and accurately as you can, but not so quickly that you make careless mistakes. If you are not sure of an answer, mark your best choice but avoid wild guessing.
Candidates applying for roles which require numerical reasoning skills, i.e. the ability to extract and understand numerical information provided in a range of formats (e.g. graphs or tables), may be asked to undertake a numerical reasoning exercise.
Candidates applying for roles which require an ability to understand written information in reports or briefs may be required to undertake a verbal reasoning exercise. These exercises typically consider a candidate's ability to extract relevant information from written text.
Case studies or in-tray exercises
In some cases assessment tools are designed specifically for candidates applying to a particular role/type of role, to measure very specific abilities. These tools can take a variety of forms, including case studies or in-tray exercises.
Candidates applying to a role where industry knowledge is essential, and consultation may be required, may be given a case study exercise. The content of the case study is directly relevant to the role for which candidates are applying. In these cases, candidates are required to use their existing knowledge and experience to identify key information from the brief. This information may then need to be reported on orally or in writing in the form of actions recommended for the client concerned.
Candidates applying for roles which require planning, organising and coordination may be asked to undertake an in-tray exercise. In an in-tray exercise the candidate is presented with a number of pieces of information which they are asked to sort, prioritise and take action on.
Personality questionnaires measure a candidate's preferences for certain types of behaviour. Candidates are asked to describe themselves - their preferences in communicating and interacting with others and their typical working style - by rating the extent to which a number of statements apply to themselves. The output is a report which describes the candidate's likely working style, interpersonal approach and preferences overall. Personality questionnaires add to the richness of the information gathered in other parts of the assessment process which recruiters can use when considering a candidate's suitability for a particular role overall. There are no right or wrong answers in a personality questionnaire. The best response to offer is an honest one.
If you are asked to complete any assessment exercises as part of your application to PwC, you will be advised in advance of the particular tools that will be used.
- Visit the British Psychological Society testing centre online
Taking numerical tests & more
Some of our assessments are done online, others take place in person.
Ability tests as well as personality questionnaires can be administered online. If you are asked to undertake an online assessment, you will need access to the internet. Make the necessary preparations to ensure that you are not interrupted (e.g. turn off your phone and let people know that you should not be disturbed). Allow yourself more time than required for the actual test/assessment so that you can go through the instructions, and any example questions, at a relaxed pace. You can get first hand experience of taking online ability tests by doing an online practice test. You can visit www.shldirect.com and try one now.
Notes about SHL's practice tests
SHL is a company that specialises in producing psychometric tests. On the SHL Direct site you will find some examples of verbal and numerical reasoning test questions, similar to those you would find on real tests.
If you choose to complete the timed practice tests, you will be asked to register your details on this site. This is to help SHL develop a better understanding of who completes their practice tests and they will use this information to ensure the feedback you receive is relevant to you specifically. You won't have to wait for a login to be sent to you and you will be able to proceed directly to the test itself.
The actual test will be timed, so bear this in mind during your practice runs. The best approach is to work both quickly and accurately, so keep calm and think about your answers.
When you have finished practising on the SHL site, you can return to our site and carry on looking around.
If you complete an online ability test, we will review your test score in context of your application details and decide whether or not you are likely to be successful if we progress you to the next recruitment stage. You will then be advised accordingly. If you complete an online personality questionnaire your test results will be provided to you, in the form of a written report, once an overall recruitment decision has been made.
Assessment in person
If you are invited to attend an assessment session, this will most often take place in one of our offices. You may be assessed on your own or with a group of candidates. If you are part of a group, please be considerate of any other candidates you meet, including respecting their privacy and confidentiality. If you are asked to take one or more psychometric tests at one of our offices, the testing session will be managed by a certified Test Administrator.
More about what happens at a test session
Ability tests are standardised to ensure that all candidates' assessment experiences are consistent.
Following a brief introduction by the Test Administrator, the formal test will begin. The instructions for doing the test will be read to you. This may seem a little stiff and formal but we do it for good reason: we want to ensure that each candidate that takes a test is given all the relevant information, accurately and completely. During each test's introduction, you will be given some example questions. These are provided to help you understand what you have to do before you start the test itself. You will also be offered an opportunity to ask questions before you start the test. If you have any questions in advance you might find answers to them on the frequently asked questions section.
Once your test session has been completed your scores will be considered, along with the other information gathered during the recruitment process, and a recruitment decision will be made. At that point you will receive a written report (usually by email) which provides you with a meaningful interpretation of your test scores.
Prepare for taking tests
In order to achieve your best possible result you should first establish what type of assessment you'll be asked to complete. Once you have this information, consider our top tips for maximising your potential:
Before the assessment
You will receive information ahead of your assessment session which will tell you where and when your assessment will take place as well as how you can prepare.
- Carefully read the information we send you about the assessment session.
- Make sure you know when and where you have to attend.
- Make use of practice materials to practise your skills and ensure you understand the task. As well as the materials we send you, you can find additional practice materials on the internet.
Note, what we refer to as the "logical" reasoning test is referred to as Inductive reasoning tests.
You will need to permit pop ups from this site to run the practice tests.
If you would like to try any further practice tests, then you can find links to various other companies on the British Psychological Society's Website.
- Find opportunities to practice using the skills that are to be assessed, e.g. if you are undertaking a numerical test, utilise every day opportunities such as shopping trips or reading a financial newspaper to test your numerical understanding and practise calculations.
- Tell us in advance if you are not clear about the assessment process or have any concerns.
- Tell us if you have any special needs (e.g. if you have a disability) well before the session so we have time to make the most appropriate arrangements for you.
- Let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to attend for any reason.
- Get a good night's sleep before the session.
- If you require reading glasses or a hearing aid, please be sure to take these with you to the assessment session.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to the session punctually.
During the assessment
A certified Test Administrator will manage your assessment session so you can rest assured that you will be told clearly what to do and how to do it. We endeavour to make all our candidates' assessment experiences professional and fair. Please help us by being considerate of any other candidates you may meet during your assessment, including respecting their privacy and confidentiality.
- If you carry a mobile phone or pager with you, turn it off before the start of the test session.
- Pay full attention to test instructions.
- Make sure you have understood a question or a task before responding.
- Many tests have strict time limits. If you are being timed, try to work through questions quickly but accurately.
- If you are asked to complete a personality questionnaire this is to help us understand your typical approach to work. Try not to think too long about each question. Your first response is likely to be the most accurate and best reflect your behavioural style. If you are not sure how to answer, try to think of how you behave when working. Attempting to second guess what is wanted can give an erroneous or inconsistent impression.