Numerical Reasoning Test Guide: 5 Proven Tips to Succeed

Ready to ace your numerical reasoning test? Just follow the tips and advice in this expert guide. We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

In this free numerical reasoning test guide we will show you:

  • 5 must-know tips on how to pass a numerical reasoning test
  • 2 key practice example questions
  • 12 numerical concepts covered in the test

You can find some of the best tailored numerical practice tests here.


What is a numerical reasoning test?

Let’s start with the basics.

A numerical reasoning test measures your ability to use numbers. 

Can you understand numerical information, apply the right mathematical operations, and come to the correct answer?

While it may sound a lot like a maths test, a numerical reasoning test is not used to assess your mathematical ability.

Instead, it’s designed to find out whether you can interpret and analyse numerical data to make logical decisions.

Employers commonly use numerical reasoning tests as part of the selection process for managerial and sales positions, and in industries that will require you to use numbers on a regular basis, such as finance, banking and accounting.

These tests can tell employers a lot about how comfortable you are with numbers and data, your grasp of basic mathematical functions, and how accurate you are under time pressure.

What to expect in your numerical reasoning test

Numerical reasoning tests are multiple choice and strictly timed.

You can usually expect to have between 45 seconds and 2 minutes per question.

Most of these tests will allow you to use a calculator and a pen and paper.

You won’t have to remember any maths formula or equations, or show your working out.

But, you will need to be quick and accurate in identifying which operations to use and in what order.

The questions can come in a variety of forms, including charts, tables, graphs, number sequences and word problems.

You’ll need to be able to interpret the numerical information in the question and figure out which operation to use to find the correct answer.


Numerical concepts covered in the test

How much math will you need to know to pass a numerical reasoning test?

The math involved is GCSE-level, and no more complex than what you would’ve done in high school.

So don’t worry — there won’t be any algebra or calculus.

That said, many people find these tests quite challenging, especially if math isn’t your strongest area.

The basic maths concepts you can expect to find in numerical reasoning tests include:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Fractions
  • Percentages
  • Ratios
  • Statistics
  • Decimals
  • Graphs and tables
  • Currency and unit conversion
  • Inflation

Numerical reasoning test example questions

Take a look at some numerical reasoning example questions from JobTestPrep and see if you can choose the correct answer:

Example question 1

Janet bought a packet of Smarties in the supermarket for £2. Lucy bought the same packet of smarties in the kiosk for £2.40. Lucy paid ____ more than Janet.

A. 25%

B. 20%

C. 15%

D. 10%

The correct answer is B: 20%.
How to solve question 1…

In this question, you need to convert fractions into percentages.

40p ÷ 200p = 0.2

0.2 x 100 = 20

Let’s try one more.

Example question 2

Here’s a number sequence where you need to choose which number comes next:

1  |  4  |  4  |  7  |  10  |  16  |  ?

The correct answer is C: 25.

How to solve question 2…

This number sequence is a variation of the Fibonacci sequence, where each number equals the sum of the two previous numbers minus 1.

Numerical reasoning test video tutorial

Be sure to watch this ‘How to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests’ video tutorial from GradTests. Don’t forget to grab a pen and make some notes. 

How to pass your numerical reasoning test: 5 pro tips

#1: Revise basic numerical concepts

As you can see, numerical reasoning test questions require you to have a good understanding of basic maths operations and how to apply them.

So, one of the best things you can do to prepare for the test is to make sure you’re familiar and confident with all the numerical concepts listed above.

A good place to start is by brushing up on GCSE-level maths.

Check out BBC Skillswise for practical maths lessons, worksheets and quizzes for all levels.

Then, try your hand at these GCSE math tests from Maths Quiz to practise applying the basic concepts to test questions.

#2: Practice as much as you can

We don’t just mean practice your general maths skills.

To truly be prepared, you should also take plenty of numerical reasoning practice tests that are designed to simulate the actual test experience.

This will help you know what to expect in terms of the question formats and time restraints, and help you get better at managing your time.

The more you practice, the quicker and more accurate you’ll get!

You can find our recommended practice tests here.


#3: Don’t underestimate the value of a pen and paper

Most of these tests will allow you to bring in a pen and paper as well as a calculator.

We can’t stress this enough:

Keep the paper beside you during the test and make use of it.

It can become very overwhelming very quickly if you’re trying to remember a lot of numbers and information in your head.

Instead, make a note of all the important points as you work through each question.

This will help make sure you don’t miss anything, and make it easier to refer back to information if you need it.

#4: Read the questions carefully

While you might feel pressured by the time limit, it’s important that you don’t let that stop you from reading each question thoroughly.

Mistakes are often made by not properly understanding the question, or rushing through and forgetting a step of calculations.

Plus, many multiple-choice tests will include intentionally tricky questions that are designed to trip you up if you’re not careful.

For example, the question might ask you to find the answer to the nearest whole number, but some of the possible answers will include decimals.

These sorts of questions are designed to test if you’re reading the information properly, and if you’re prone to common slip-ups.

The best advice:

Read every question twice, make notes of what’s important, and go over the instructions thoroughly so that you fully understand what’s being asked.

#5: Get a good night’s sleep

This might sound simple, but a proper night’s sleep can mean the difference between a pass and a fail.

When you’re working under time pressure, it’s important that you’re clear-headed and focused so that you can pick up as many marks as you can.

Get a good 8-10 hours of sleep the night before your numerical reasoning test, and make sure you eat well and drink plenty of water.

If you’re not feeling your best, you won’t perform at your best. It’s really as simple as that.

And finally: GOOD LUCK!

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