Facing those damn numerical tests – some of the many names they have!) are a fact of life.

Love them or hate them, they‟re not going away. The only thing that you can control is what you can do. This little book is all about that – what “you can do” do help yourself and hopefully do better than what you‟ve done before. Let‟s put it this way – you kick ass, or get yours kicked, so what‟s it


gonna be?



2 3 4 5

Introduction .................................................... 1 Types of tests.................................................. 1 Playing the test game.................................. 2 Basic techniques ............................................ 3 5.1 Is there a magic trick? ........................ 3

There are many types of tests you will encounter as you look for a job, and GMAT tends to be the most popular test if you are planning to go to B-school. Let‟s look at the more popular numerical tests 1. Numerical reasoning / data interpretation tests – questions that require you to interpret numbers, understand graphs and charts, and work out solutions to specific questions 2. Problem solving – requires you to know more than basic mathematical knowledge, for e.g. trigonometry, algebra, high school level mathematics. The quantitative section in GMAT is a typical version. 3. Picture interpretation/logical sequence – look at a sequence of pictures and find the next one/pair in the sequence This book is more about the numerical reasoning and data interpretation tests though the techniques and traps outlined work equally well for other numerical tests as well


Three traps that wait for you .................... 4 6.1 6.2 6.3 I Love you and i love you not .......... 4 Notorious big ........................................ 4 Gotcha! .................................................... 5


Ten mistakes test takers make ................. 5

8 Closing arguments ...... Error! Bookmark not defined.



Assessment tests (numerical reasoning, numeracy, psychometric, data interpretation 1

Introduction | http://www.numericalguru.com

or a single point loss might mean a great job or back to the road hunting for one. Speed 2. In consulting speak. in effect. or you lose your nerve and lose.com . how do you do well on speed? a) Strong reading comprehension – ability to read and comprehend the question quickly b) Sharp mathematical skills – can do the mathematical operations quickly c) Ability to make a decision – do you skip the question or do you plough ahead to solve it? Can you make that call quickly? And then there is accuracy a) Knowing the right approach to problem solving b) Watching out for traps c) Avoiding silly mistakes So. It‟s not just about reading something fast. c) Ability to make a decision – this is one of the most common pitfalls of test takers – inability to make a call and move on. and you can get pretty quick with basic mathematical operations. Most numerical tests test you on two things – 1. and all you want is to get out of the test un-mutilated) and you go ahead and play the game well and win.numericalguru. it‟s also called “not boiling the ocean” e) Watching out for traps – not all questions are innocent and Think of the test whispering in your ear – “let‟s play a game” (sort of like Jigsaw in SAW. In fiercely competitive tests you better be good on all of those. or do you guess/skip and move on? d) Knowing the right approach to problem solving – you have little time.Facing those damn numerical tests 4 PLAYING THE TEST GAME Now. but you need to figure out quickly what approach you want to take to get to the solution. A few solid weeks (or months) of practice and knowledge of shortcuts and tricks. let‟s get deeper on each of those skills and quickly check what we need to be good at each of these a) Demonstrating reading comprehension – comes over time and with practice. 2 Playing the test game | http://www. this is not actually too hard. you need a combination of about 5 skills. You need to make a decision quickly as you see or read a question – is it something you can solve in the time you have. but knowing what to absorb and what to ignore as you read b) Showing Sharp mathematical skills – unless you hate math and ignored it throughout your education. Accuracy Let‟s delve deeper.

all the while making sure you aren‟t falling into a trap or you‟re doing something silly (like adding instead of multiplying and so on). f) Think of it this way: Let‟s say you are staring at a rather hard question . If you do all questions but get many wrong – you lose. how about we think about what can be done to do better in these numerical and quantitative aptitude tests? What techniques might we use? 5.numericalguru. The tests test your mettle in a pressure situation. Once you figure that out. 1. Once you‟ve solved it. If you‟re lucky. you need to make sure you marked the right choice. a visual inspection of the answers and a couple of quick rough reasoning techniques can get you there too. and you need to get to the answer. Backsolving – plug your answers to the equation proposed by the question and see which one satisfies the equation. But the pre-requisite to do eliminations is a) You should have glanced at the answers once and registered the patterns or variations 5 BASIC TECHNIQUES You have a question.com .you get it right and you probably are a step ahead of your competitors. life‟s unfair sometimes. Elimination – you eliminate all answers that don‟t make sense or quickly show themselves to be unlikely candidates 3.Facing those damn numerical tests straight forward. grasping the essentials. Straight solving – you read the question. there is a good chance that elimination will get you close to the answer. after eliminating improbable answers. but many times in a combination with elimination. The advantage of elimination is reduces your choice list and helps you catch if you‟re going off track in your solutions. no! Don‟t look for tricks to solve every question – that‟s why it takes practice to know what approach to take. using all the steps like a good schoolboy/girl 2. Then you need to work out the right approach to solve the problem once you decide that you want to solve the problem – you don‟t have all day. Now with that out of the way. you solve it linearly until you hit the solution. But this is what you need – you first have to read the question quite quickly. you‟re done. If you see wide variations in your answers. Yes. you need to be able to solve it quickly with some nimble calculations. What that means is there‟s not a lot you can do except calculate quickly and accurately. If you do few and get them all right – you lose again. What? That was 102? I thought it was 120! „nuff said. There are three basic ways of doing this 3 Basic techniques | http://www. Most data interpretation tests do tend to lend themselves to straight solving and require an eye for detail and quick calculations. There. They‟re out to get you! Watch out! Avoiding silly mistakes – I solved the answer c and marked b.1 IS THERE A MAGIC TRICK? Hell.

GMAT. that‟s 200. The quicker you move up the harder scale. Some tests have a general pattern. or will in the end ask you something fairly simple. there will be some that try to throw you away. Sometimes you will need an additional level of refinement.numericalguru. 4 Big question.com . do you have the time to read it all? Glance quickly Three traps that wait for you | http://www. you may end up with just 1 choice and that‟s the answer. You could start with an easy one. Don‟t assume the next question will be something you hope to get. if a company earns 220K in the first year and grows 12. you have an advantage. so that gets us to an upper limit of 1750 . The first thing you could do is just a rough calculation. Your head hurts as you read through it. is an adaptive test.2 NOTORIOUS BIG 6 THREE TRAPS THAT WAIT FOR YOU It would be great if you got questions that said “what‟s 3+2?” but that‟s not how the bad world awaits you.” c) You should know how to pick off outliers – so. If the choices have wide variances. Unless the test body says there‟s a definite pattern – make no assumptions of difficulty pattern. The Notorious Bigs will either bury you in useless detail. 220K…take it as 200. That means any answer less than that must be eliminated. (The answer is 1417) Be prepared. the next one is easier (or same).g. If you answer an easy question wrong.7% -. If you see a huge question – take a quick call. and compounding piles on quickly!). if not – it gets harder. 5 years means at a minimum it should have made 1000K. what‟s the upper limit? 12. While most data interpretation and numerical reasoning questions can be reasonably straight forward. how much did it earn in total? Would you sit and calculate it? No. 6.1 I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE YOU NOT Don‟t expect tests to increase linearly in difficulty. and be trapped with a difficult one right after that.take that as 15% (after all you took 220 as 200). Expect to be misled. and then a tricky one – keep your mind (and eyes) open. Don‟t expect a pattern. the most popular test in the world for business school admissions.Facing those damn numerical tests b) You should be pretty good with approximations and popular ratios – sort of like “192…ok. the higher your score will be. Next. 15% of 200 is 30 – so at most in 5 years you would be around 200x5 + 100x5 = 1250 (I took 100 because growth is compounded.and your answer has to fall between 1000 and 1750. They‟re also the ones that if you do well. 6. 15%? That would be something like 1/7 etc.7% each year for the next 4 years. for e. That means the test difficulty automatically adjusts itself based on your answers.. and then a simple one again.

you are a step ahead of the rest. The nice thing about it is if you‟re the careful kind.3 GOTCHA! Give you numbers in weeks and ask for the result in a year. Not preparing for the format of the test . In all numerical tests. 2. and Accuracy (total correct/ number attempted). this will get you ahead of another bunch of competitors. prepared for it even for a few days. when they move on to the next question. and the QUESTION YOU'RE DOING NOW. then work back at the question ignoring everything irrelevant. Everything else is inconsequential and damaging. current question. Worrying about the past . The question has a quote from a CEO about how he sucks eggs in the morning? Irrelevant – move forward and fast. This distracts from a singular focus of the current test. Obsession with test score . They worry about their previous test where they may not have done well. This 6. Throw you off with irrelevant detail and twist the question in the end. 3.many people worry about a question they could not solve. If you're prepared. Show a cumulative graph instead of linear. Top 10 mistakes of numerical reasoning test takers during tests or assessment days Many students sweat at the prospect of writing another numerical reasoning test (or a purely data interpretation test) or face a quantitative .numericalguru. Some questions will attempt to deceive you if you don‟t watch out. Absolute score (total correct / total possible).There are two critical elements in a test. 4. Show currencies in $ and ask for an answer in £.Facing those damn numerical tests to the end – see what they‟re actually asking for. 1. Big question doesn‟t mean hard question. yet very widely committed mistake! If you just took the time out to understand the format and style of the test or an interview. Going into a test or a case interview without really knowing the format of the assessment is a basic. or guess them randomly. and just fear of calculations can take chunks of performance away from you.not a surprise.com . focus on the TEST YOU'RE DOING NOW. Advance fear of the test .numbers laden case interview as part of job interviews. Shakiness with numbers. 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) 5 Ten mistakes test takers make | http://www. Some worry about "finishing every question in time" and get many wrong.for many people. the very fact that there is a "mathematics" test is enough to undermine their confidence even before the test. you've probably already got a foot ahead of more than 1/2 your competitors. assessment days or school admissions. 7 TEN MISTAKES TEST TAKERS MAKE We‟ve covered this in our blog – but it‟s still worth reproducing.

Forgetting the calculator! .Facing those damn numerical tests reduces accuracy. Read the entire question first! Many a time there will be a question where part of the data is completely irrelevant to the solution. 10. All the time. There will be hard tests where very gifted few can actually finish all questions in the allotted time . Keep this in mind: Solving a 6 question in a time-bound numerical test to derive the answer is neither the only. Yes.numericalguru. More often than not.this is one of the most common reasons for poor test performance. Insufficient preparation . (c) Use the answers and see which answer fits the question (backsolving) Smart test takers use all of the techniques when taking a test. You should be comfortable with each strategy and not rely on any one.the smart test takers know how to play the game. Obsession with accuracy . Using poor question solving strategy there are usually three ways of solving quantitative questions (a) compute the answer (b) eliminate answers that don't make sense. Some others focus so much on accuracy that they miss out many questions and have a low score. nor the best way to get an answer! 7. and you spend 3 minutes on a question you're digging your own grave. It's there just to waste your time. but all it needs is quick elimination of nonsensical choices. many do that. 5. 8. our tests have some of these types of questions) 9. and accurately. They know when to skip a question and when to guess. Some questions may seem long. A lot of test takers just don't realize that they spent way too much time on some of them.solving for (b) and marking (c). analyze Ten mistakes test takers make | http://www. It's critical to learn the skill of "when do I skip a question?" 6. The complexity of the questions in tests that allow use of calculators will often be higher than those without. Many companies (say SHL) administer tests on behalf of recruiters. you are allowed to use calculators to do these tests.the biggest mistake of them all. If a test has 20 questions and 25 minutes. Both will weaken your chances! The best strategists know how to do as much as possible. and in fiercely competitive tests a single wrong question can mean not progressing to the next round. Not taking the time and effort to do many practice tests. Not reading the entire question . Only a piece of the data in the question is relevant.com . Take just 2 seconds (literally) to cross-check that you marked the choice you really intended to.Oh yeah. Some seem really hard to create an equation for. Happens. and you won't know that if you don't read the question in its entirety. but all it needs it to plug the answer into the question. (Yes. so don't forget to use one when needed! You're usually never allowed to use calculators in case interviews though. Marking the wrong answer . efficiently.Many test takers will jump to solving the first part of the question before even reading the entire question. Many numerical reasoning or data interpretation tests have questions that simply cannot be solved in the given time.

If you're weak at these tests. the only way to get better is to practice. Assuming that just doing a 'bunch of tests' will improve numerical skills.com and we‟ll tell you if we plan to publish it! 7 RESOURCES | http://www. practice and improvisation are key to success. Top performance requires skill and nerve.systematic preparation. learn techniques to do better. If you want to contribute an original. it is equally damaging if you are prepared but not confident. analyze your weaknesses and strengths and do more tests by addressing them. experience or strategy.com . Now that you know it. analysis and then confidence. We also have a special test just to help you flex those tips muscles.com Our tests will test you on the many techniques mentioned in this book.numericalguru. There‟s more content you can find when you start at http://www. just e-mail the article to partner@numericalguru. Just as its stupid to be confident without preparation (unless you are mathematically gifted).numericalguru. and improve upon them. practice. 8 RESOURCES Success comes with preparation.Facing those damn numerical tests weakness. not one or the other. pay attention to them and good luck with your preparation! Remember . interesting thought.

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