FAQs for members of the public
- What information is available to ensure good practice is being followed?
- Who is qualified to use psychological tests?
- How should I approach a test session?
- Where can I find out more about how to prepare to take a test?
- What action can be taken against someone who falsely claims to hold a British Psychological Society qualification in educational or occupational testing?
- Where can I buy a test
- I have been rejected for a job on the basis of a psychometric test that I took during the selection process. What should I do?
- How widely are tests used by employers?
- Is it fair to people with dyslexia to use tests in recruitment?
There are a number of publications for test users, which set out the principles of good practice in the use of tests and questionnaires. For a wide range of general guides to good practice, covering all forms of testing please go to the Guidelines and Information section of the website.
Psychological tests should only be used by people who are qualified and are registered with test publishers to use them. Many, but not all chartered psychologists have expertise in using tests. In addition other professionals are often trained to use tests for particular purposes. The PTC holds a Register of Qualifications in Test Use. To find out the level at which a test user is qualified, please contact the PTC at [email protected]. or on 0116 252 9530.
- Listen to the test administrator's instructions carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask if you do not understand what to do.
- Keep calm, and take a few deep breaths before starting the test.
- Many ability tests are designed to present more questions than an average person can answer in the time allowed. If it looks as though you will not finish in time do not worry about it. However do your best to answer as many questions as you can.
- Many tests do not take points off for wrong answers - so don't be frightened to take a best guess if you are not sure of the answer. Listen to what the test administrator says. You should be told if wrong answers are penalised and it would be better not to guess.
- Read instructions carefully before you start the test. Make sure you know what you have to do before the test starts.
- Remember you can go back and consult the instructions during the test if you are unsure of something.
- Don't spend too much time on any one question, you should eventually get a 'feel' for how long a single question should take. Unless expressly told to work through the questions in order, just move on if you really get stuck.
- If you do find yourself with some free time at the end of the test, use it to check your answers.
- Use rough paper if you are allowed to.
- Make or change your answers clearly and in the correct manner.
Most psychological testing does not require preparation. You should be provided with information about the assessment process when it is arranged.
If you are being assessed for employment purposes (e.g. selection or promotion) it can be useful to familiarise yourself with the type of exercise you may be asked to do. Companies that offer Practice Tests takes you to practice materials provided by test publishers.
A Test Taker's Guide is available for people who wish to understand what the process will be. It provides general information about preparing for a test, information for people with disabilities, what happens during and after a test session and what psychological tests measure. Most good bookshops will have a range of books with information about employment tests and example tests for practice.
A complaint should be made in writing in the first instance to the PTC Manager.
Most tests are sold directly by specialist test publishers and distributors and are restricted to people with appropriate training and qualifications. For further information and contact details see the Directory of Test Publishers
I have been rejected for a job on the basis of a psychometric test that I took during the selection process. What should I do?
The British Psychological Society’s role is to set standards in testing. We do not accredit or validate recruitment practices used by employers, instead we maintain an online Register of Qualifications in Test Use so that those using the services of testers, can check the qualifications of a qualified test user.
Companies normally use a range of methods in recruitment and selection, such as an interview, practical and psychometric tests, and use of assessment centres, role plays and group/team exercises. The use of these methods is dependent on the type of job to be filled, the profile of the recruiting organisation and the budget for recruitment.
The outcome of the selection process would not usually not be based solely on how well a candidate performs in a test, but instead how well they perform based on a range of other information which is collected as part of the recruitment process.
If you feel that the testing was not carried out appropriately, in the first instance you should contact the organisation/individual who undertook or commissioned the testing session to discuss your concerns. If you have concerns about the use of tests by a person on the RQTU, please contact us at [email protected]
Most large organisations use tests of some description in both recruitment and development. Many will use tests at all levels of recruitment. In particular, if you are a graduate or manager applying for a job you can expect to undergo some form of psychometric assessment over the course of your career. Many smaller companies will use psychometric tests only for more senior appointments where making the wrong selection decision can have particularly significant consequences for the organisation.
Adults with dyslexia typically have difficulties with reading. They may be slow readers or find it tiring to read for long periods. They may also have difficulties in other areas including writing and spelling, and some aspects of memory and organisation. However they are no less intelligent than other people and there is some evidence that people with dyslexia may have enhanced skills in other areas such as processing visual information.
Tests used in recruitment are designed to measure the skills required in the role and research shows that they are the single best predictor of performance in the job. Tests are objective measures and they often allow people with disabilities to demonstrate their capability without the biases of a human interviewer intervening. When someone has difficulty with a test, it is likely to suggest they will have difficulty with that aspect of the role.
However in practice tests can sometimes depend on certain skills to a greater degree than they are used in the role. If these are skills affected by a disability for an individual then it may be appropriate to make some adjustment to the test. For example if a test requires a great deal more reading than would generally be required in the job then it might be appropriate for someone with dyslexia to request an adjustment. Public examinations such as A Levels and GCSEs often allow extra time or other adjustments.
If you are asked to take a test as part of an application for a job and you are concerned that you may not do as well as you should because of dyslexia or another disability, you should take the following steps:
- Find out as much as you can about the test. Ask the employer for example questions or practice materials so you can see whether it is likely to be a problem for you.
- Review the materials carefully to see if they do present any particular difficulty for you. This might be in the way the exercise is presented (the size of the writing, the colour of the paper) or other factors such as how you are to note your answers or working to tight time limits.
- If you think there may be a difficulty you can ask the employer to make an adjustment. You will need to tell the employer about your disability so they can make the appropriate accommodation. It is better to contact the employer as soon as you can before the test so that there is enough time to make appropriate arrangements. If you only tell the employer you want an adjustment on the day, it may be difficult to provide all the facilities you need.
It is your right under the Disability Discrimination Act to receive appropriate adjustments to allow your skills to be assessed fairly.