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Top 10 mistakes while doing numerical reasoning tests

We are all fear about the one section in Banking Exams that is Aptitude cums Numerical section the hard true is that most of us score more marks in this section and yet we do fear about this and score less in other sections. Just like our school days where we do prepare Mathematics for 10 days and score a 70+ and scoring only 60+ with 3-4 days preparation in other subjects.

Whether you're doing a standard numerical reasoning test or a case interview, ability to handle numbers is critical. Many sweat at the prospect of writing another numerical reasoning test (or a purely data interpretation test) or face a quantitative - numbers laden case interview as part of job interviews, assessment days or school admissions, Let's look at the top 10 mistakes committed by most numerical reasoning and quantitative aptitude test preparers (let's keep the mathematically gifted out of this equation)

1. Not preparing for the format of the test - not a surprise. Going into a test or a case interview without really knowing the format of the assessment is a basic, yet very widely committed mistake! If you just took the time out to understand the format and style of the test or an interview, prepared for it even for a few days, you've probably already got a foot ahead of more than 1/2 your competitors.

2. Advance fear of the test - for many people, the very fact that there is a "mathematics" test is enough to undermine their confidence even before the test. Shakiness with numbers, and just fear of calculations can take chunks of performance away from you. If you're prepared, this will get you ahead of another bunch of competitors.

3. Worrying about the past - many people worry about a question they could not solve, when they move on to the next question. They worry about their previous test where they may not have done well.This distracts from a singular focus of the current test, current question. In all numerical tests, focus on the TEST YOU'RE DOING NOW, and the QUESTION YOU'RE DOING NOW. Everything else is inconsequential and damaging.

4. Obsession with test score - There are two critical elements in a test. Absolute score (total correct / total possible), and Accuracy (total correct/ number attempted). Some worry about "finishing every question in time" and get many wrong, or guess them randomly. This reduces accuracy. Some others focus so much on accuracy, that they miss out many questions and have a low score. Both will weaken your chances! The best strategists know how to do as much as possible, efficiently, and accurately. There will be hard tests where very gifted few can actually finish all questions in the allotted time - the smart test takers know how to play the game. They know when to skip a question and when to guess.

5. Obsession with accuracy - this is one of the most common reasons for poor test performance. Many numerical reasoning or data interpretation tests have questions that simply cannot be solved in the given time. A lot of test takers just don't realize that they spent way too much time on some of them. If a test has 20 questions and 25 minutes, and you spend 3 minutes on a question - you're digging your own grave. It's critical to learn the skill of "when do I skip a question?" our tests often have questions which simply cannot be answered in time and they're there to just test one thing - "did you skip this question?"

6. Using poor question solving strategy - there are usually three ways of solving quantitative questions (a) compute the answer (b) use the answers and see which answer fits the question (backsolving) (c) eliminate answers that don't make sense. Smart test takers use all of the techniques when taking a test. Some questions may seem long, but all it needs is quick elimination of nonsensical choices. Some seem really hard to create an equation for, but all it needs it to plug the answer into the question. You should be comfortable with each strategy and not rely on any one. Keep this in mind: Solving a question in a time-bound numerical test to derive the answer is neither the only, nor the best way to get an answer!

7. Forgetting the calculator! - Oh yeah. Happens. All the time. Many companies (say SHL) administer tests on behalf of recruiters. More often than not, you are allowed to use calculators to do these tests, so don't forget to use one when needed! You're usually never allowed to use calculators in case interviews though. The complexity of the questions in tests that allow use of calculators will often be higher than those without.

8. Not reading the entire question - Many test takers will jump to solving the first part of the question before even reading the entire question. Read the entire question first! Many a time there will be a question where part of the data is completely irrelevant to the solution. It's there just to waste your time. Only a piece of the data in the question is relevant, and you won't know that if you don't read the question in its entirety.

9. Marking the wrong answer - solving for (b) and marking (c). Yes, many do that, and in fiercely competitive tests (maybe a McKinsey test, for example) a single wrong question can mean not progressing to the next round. Take just 2 seconds (literally) to cross-check that you marked the question you really intended to.

10. Insufficient preparation - the biggest mistake of them all. Not taking the time and effort to do many practice tests, analyze weakness, and improve upon them. Assuming that just doing a 'bunch of tests' will improve numerical skills. If you're weak at these tests, the only way to get better is to practice, learn techniques to do better, analyze your weaknesses and strengths and do more tests by addressing them.
Now that you know it, pay attention to them and good luck with your preparation! Remember - systematic preparation, practice and improvisation are key to success.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    The kinds of psychometric testing People Central recommend would be specific to the job, but Evans says that a typical capability test would cover: oral and numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning.


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