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Numerical Reasoning Tests

28 September 2015 |

Format

Many City firms also use the SHL numerical reasoning tests. These tests tend to present you with tables containing data or graphs, each of which will have a few corresponding questions. Have a calculator, some scrap paper and a pen ready. Most questions will require you to do numerous (but simple) calculations. These tests assess how accurately you read and interpret data, and your basic arithmetic capability. Calculations will only usually involve addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and percentages/fractions.

Approach

Whilst the types of calculations expected of you may be fairly simple, numerical tests tend to put you under extreme time pressure and thus accuracy is key. Your ability to process information quickly and your attention to detail are as (if not more) important than your mathematical ability. For instance, I had not studied Maths for around 7 years when I came across these tests (and am not particularly good with numbers) but still managed to pass many tests, whereas friends of mine doing degrees such as Economics failed a few tests when starting out.

Tables may contain data relating to various different years, companies, products, sources of income etc. Graphs may contain various different lines or bars that are colour coded to indicate what they are relating to (e.g. different forms of transportation, different products, companies or shares etc.). The axis will also relate to different data (e.g. the year/month, location, value etc. of whatever it is you are being questioned about).

Start by reading the question very carefully and zone out the precise figures from the table/graph that are relevant to the question before making any calculations. This is where scrap paper can come in handy, as you can jot down the relevant information before using your calculator. This can prevent you from accidentally including the wrong information in your calculation.