What is a test publisher
A test publisher is an agency that, broadly speaking, develops psychological tests. Personality tests and aptitude tests are an important part of these psychological tests. In recent years, the difference between, aptitude test, cognitive test, assessment and psychometric test has been diluted. In fact, almost always the same is meant: a test that tests the capabilities of a candidate. Based on the result, the candidate is found suitable for a certain position within a company.
Assessment agencies come in many shapes and sizes. Some agencies are only active in the UK. While other agencies are active internationally. This also affects the tests. For example, some providers will offer the test in as many as 40 languages, while other agencies will offer the test in perhaps only four or five languages. If a candidate can take the test in his native language, it is often good for the result. There is less chance of unnecessary mistakes or noise.
In addition to difference in languages and size, there is also a difference in the range of tests. Some assessment agencies develop many different tests. While other agencies only have one or two tests.
Different kinds of tests
Each test publisher develops its own test(s). Although there is overlap between the different agencies, there is also a lot of difference. For example, some agencies want to offer a culture-free test. The culture, background and education of a candidate do not matter in a culture-free test. Other agencies do use topics where certain candidates have a head start. Examples of topics that are not culture-free are analyzing analogies and texts. But also to a lesser extent the use of certain figures that may or may not occur in some parts of the world.
In addition to a difference in, for example, background, there is also a difference in parts themselves. For example, many assessment agencies test number series. There are only a huge number of variants in the number series, for example:
- A series of four, five or perhaps ten digits.
- Enter one or two digits at the end.
- Calculations can be addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
- Powers, fractions and decimals can occur.
- Fibonacci series.
Each assessment agency chooses a combination of the possibilities to develop, in their eyes, the best test. That is why it is important to know which assessment agency conducts the test. Then you can practice exactly the combination you need.
Types of assessment questions
The questions are divided into three categories: abstract or logical reasoning, numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning. Each category tests a certain form of thinking.
- Abstract or logical: the logical reasoning ability is tested. These are often culture-free components that provide a good picture of the intelligence of a candidate.
- Numerical reasoning: here the numerical reasoning ability is tested. The training of a candidate is important in this area. The more Maths a candidate has had, the easier it becomes.
- Verbal reasoning: the verbal reasoning ability is tested. This is a component that is strongly influenced by the background, origin and education.
Assessment agencies generally have a database with questions divided into different categories. Depending on the employer and the level, a test battery is made from the question battery. For example, with Pearson you get a combination of number series, figure series and calculations. Pearson has an, for us, unknown number of questions and the candidate gets to see, for example, 20 random questions.
This way the level of the tests remains the same, but each candidate receives different questions. This also prevents candidates from learning questions by heart using screenshots or friends. For this reason it is therefore also important to understand which concepts an assessment agency tests. Then you can, for example, practice number series that include addition and subtraction instead of number series that contain powers.
Employers versus assessment agencies
Employers, such as PwC, generally do not develop a test themselves. This test is purchased from an assessment agency. Every employer has his own application procedure. You will usually receive a aptitude test at the start of this procedure, just after the cover letter.
Later in the application process, other assessment tools can be used such as: a personality test, a conversation with a psychologist or a case. These components are also being developed by an assessment agency.
Because every employer buys a test and there is a limited range of tests, it may just be that you encounter the same test more often. At the moment, for example, British American Tobacco is using the SHL test just like Coca Cola. If you apply to those two parties and have to take the test, you can kill two birds with one stone by practicing for the SHL test.
Is there no other difference between employers? In principle, the assessment agency offers the same test, which is composed of the same question battery. The standard group is where there is a difference. For example, British American Tobacco may require you to be among the top 20% and Coca COla want you to be among the top 40%*. A certain employer can also use a short retest to check whether you have cheated. The employer can also choose to use the test at a different point in the application, possibly fairly unannounced. Then the location is also variable, sometimes you can take the test at home, an e-assessment. Another time, the capacity test must be done at the employer’s office or perhaps even at the assessment office.
*These numbers are for informational purposes only.
The norm group
The employer will check your result with that of the norm group. Literally the group with which your score is compared. The norm group can be determined in various ways. Some assessment agencies choose to invite a number of people to take the test once or regularly. Based on that, the standard is determined for, for example: graduate level and phd level.
The norm group can also be determined in other ways in addition to the education of the candidate. For example on the basis of study or sector in which you are applying. For example, candidates aiming at the legal profession may be tested more verbally. Or are candidates who want to become bankers being tested more on math skills.
The idea is that the candidate beats the norm group. The employer chooses a standard for this in consultation with the assessment agency. You must then “defeat” a certain percentage of the norm group. For example, you must have a higher score than 70% of the norm group. If you do not reach the limit, you have not passed the test and the application procedure often ends. It is important to know that with such a standard group your background and the requirements for the position are taken into account.