Numerical tests are the vital first-step to any application process. In the 2014/15 Academic Year, the LSESU Finance Society will be partnering with Coaching Assembly, Fitch Learning and Graddiary.com to provide free numerical testing platforms for our members to practice. Our team will also be developing the first ever financial-skills course run by students, to be introduced in Michaelmas 2014.
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Online numerical tests
For anyone with a reasonable amount of maths education, the online numerical tests should be relatively simple. They centre around addition and subtraction, percentages, compound interest, graph reading, analysing tables and problem solving.
However, they are also designed to catch people out if they don’t read the question properly.
For example, you may see a simple XY graph where X is year one, year two etc. and Y is some numerical statistic. The question will ask you what was the Y figure in year three and candidates will jump to the graph and quickly tick their answer to move on, while missing that the Y column was cumulative.
The trick is ensuring you have enough time to answer everything. You have about 20 to 25 minutes to cover 30 to 40 questions, so it is not advisable to spend five minutes on one question.
Even though you’ll probably be doing these on your laptop at home, prepare as you would for any other exam. Have ready a scrap of paper, an open Excel spreadsheet and a calculator.
Take the exam when you’re sharp and in a quiet place. You will often receive an email with a link directing you to a test site, asking you to complete it in five business days. Make sure you know when the deadline is, and sit the exam before it expires.
The student section of eFinancialCareers.com offers a series of numerical practice tests to help students prepare for the real thing. To take our practice tests, go to efinancialcareers.com/students and click on Numerical Tests.
In-house numerical tests
If you make it to interview or to a bank’s assessment centre, you’ll be required to sit an in-house numerical test. These are harder than the online ones, touching on things such as bond maths, differentiation and interest calculations.
Ask the bank’s human resources team whether the in-house test questions are likely to get harder as they progress. Often they do, so you’ll need to make sure you get the easy ones right – you don’t want to lose vital easy marks from sloppy work.
Verbal reasoning tests
Verbal reasoning tests are all about attention to detail. Banks want to see that, within a limited timeframe and in a pressurised environment, you can digest and quickly disseminate information.
You are usually provided with a passage of information and required to evaluate a set of statements by indicating whether each statement is:
A – True
(does it follow logically from the information or opinions contained in the passage?).
B – False
(is it logically untrue based on information or opinions contained in the passage?).
C – Cannot Say
(based on the passage, are you unable to determine if the statement is true or false without further information?).
Practice is important to passing these but the key is to read each statement carefully and ensure you understand what it’s saying.
Everything you need to know is included in the passage of text. It is about how you interpret this to form a logical conclusion.
“These tests are less about general knowledge and more about attention to detail and being able to maintain high standards under pressure. These are qualities banks want to see and the tests are designed to draw them out,” says Sarah Butcher, editor, eFinancialCareers.com.
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