NumbersAs a physics student who studied Further Maths at A-level, I thought that the numerical reasoning test – which you have to take as part of the NAO’s online application form – would be a breeze for me! I quickly learnt, though, that even on a subject I am comfortable with, aptitude tests have their own set of rules; luckily I found this out by failing one for a company that wasn’t the NAO.

After this setback, I quickly made my way down to the careers department at my university to see if they had any useful material. I was in luck as there was a whole shelf of books related to aptitude tests. My favourites, as I recall them, were:

  • The Numeracy Test Workbook: Everything You Need for a Successful Programme of Self Study Including Quick Tests and Full-length Realistic Mock-ups (Testing Series) by Mike Bryon.
  • Brilliant Numeracy Tests: Everything You Need to Know to Pass Numeracy Tests (Brilliant Business) by Rob Williams.

I found these useful as I like to practise questions from a book, though there are many similar books available and most will contain appropriate questions. Many of my colleagues used online practice reasoning tests they found on the internet and they are adamant they are preferable to the books I used.

There are a couple of practice questions before you do the actual timed test, and there is also a free practice test offered by the NAO, my advice would be to take this opportunity. Most companies use similar questions for their aptitude tests so the more you do the easier you will find them.

Before you start panicking that many hours of practice will be needed, I merely used these as resources to dip into a few questions. After all, time for me was limited as I applied towards the end of November amid a flurry of university assignments and pre-Christmas deadlines.

I will summarise this blog in one line (so apologies to those who have read the whole thing), my top tip: a little practice goes a long way!

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