Learn About All The Most Common Tricks and Tips
For Numerical Reasoning Tests

At GradTests, we have heaps of tips and tricks to help you ace your next numerical reasoning test. Remember, the best way to improve your numerical reasoning test is practice.

You can take a free numerical reasoning test here right now. You can also get immediate access to 150 numerical reasoning questions right now. You can check out our general tip taking advice for all psychometric tests here


Get your technology set up

For numerical reasoning tests, we recommend using a desktop or laptop, with a keyboard, mouse and ideally an additional monitor. A mouse will allow you to efficiently select the answers. Instead of a pocket calculator, it would be best to do any required calculations in Excel. Entering the data into Excel with a keyboard will be much more efficient and less risky (typos are easy to recover from) than using a calculator and a lot of the calculations will be more efficiently done in Excel, because you can copy down formulas instead of re-doing the same calculation. Finally, using Excel will allow you to save the data for use in a later question, which sometimes is needed.


Select the most correct answer

With numerical reasoning tests, there may be multiple answer options that are at least partially correct in some sense. You must select the most correct answer to each question. We run through an example of this below in ‘Watch out for trick answer options’.



For many questions, it’s better to figure out roughly what the answer is using mental maths, than going through the rigmarole of finding the exact answer. This will be especially relevant when all the answer options are quite different values to one another. If they’re all close to each other, you won’t really be able to guestimate.


Know when to move on

Some questions are designed to waste your time. This is a common trap that the test providers set. They give you so many calculations to do, that it would take minutes to do them. With practice, you will come to spot these questions and know how to deal with them pragmatically. Bear in mind, almost all tests assign the same value to each question, so it isn’t rationale use of your time to spend too much time on one question. If you spot a question that you realise will require a lot of calculations, try to eliminate any answer option possible, and then simply take a guess.


Be wary of units

Oftentimes, the units of the axes on the graphs will differ to the units in the question or the answer options. For example, the graph might be in miles per hour, but the answer needs to be in kilometres per hour, or the table may be Euros, but the answers are in Pounds. This trick is done to test your attention to detail. You’ll need to be aware of this trick and perform any conversions necessary. Keep an eye out for the rules on how to convert, which are often in small print at the bottom of a table, or given in the question. For example, they may propose an exchange rate to use to convert between Euros and Pounds – you wouldn’t assume one.


Watch out for trick answer options

Normally the test providers will throw in at least one or two trick answer options. When we say trick answer options, these are answers that they know people would arrive at when they’ve made a certain mistake. They aim to again test your attention to detail by lulling you into a false sense of security. You’ll finish a calculation and find the value as one of the answer options, so naturally you think that it’s right. But it’s wrong. For example, let’s say the question asked you to find the gross profit from a table which is shown in USD. You calculate it correctly and find it’s equal to $500 000. You spot this as an answer option and select it. However, one of the other options is EUR420 000, and with the exchange rate given, this answer is the same value. You might notice if you look closely that the answer was requested in EUR, so that’s the actual correct answer; had you selected the USD answer, you’d be incorrect. Remember, with numerical reasoning tests, you are required to choose the ‘most’ correct answer.


Narrow down your options

Even when you’re in a situation where you need to guess, because of either time constraints or you simply don’t know the answer, it still pays to try and narrow down your options. This will dramatically increase your odds of guessing the correct answer. You’ll be able to rule out some answers as obviously wrong with some guestimation of the correct answer, or by closely reading the question to see if any of the answer options don’t comply with what’s requested. For example as above, if the question requests the answer in EUR, then you could rule out any non-EUR options.


Nail the basics

The actual maths need to perform well in these tests is fairly minimal. You don’t need to know advanced maths or statistics or anything like that. But for the maths that is tested, you need to understand inside out and back to front. You need to be very efficient in it. The only real maths skills you need are basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), basic exponents, percentage changes, ratios, averages and rates of change. Make sure you are absolutely 100% crystal clear on these topics, including how to use Excel or your calculator to calculate these. You can take a free numerical reasoning test now to get an idea of the types of calculations you’ll need to do, and you can hone in on any areas that you are weak in.


Keep an eye on the footnotes of the table

Sometimes the table or chart will have some footnotes with critical information in them. Some candidates tend to miss these because they are often in small font and a little obscured. Keep an eye out for them.

That’s the end of our numerical reasoning test tips. Now it’s time for you to get cracking on your practice!

You start with a free numerical reasoning test right now. Once done, you can move on and unlock 150 numerical reasoning questions with a subscription.