I often see IT job advertisements that mention a numeracy test.

These are generally Insurance companies.

This is all based in London Uk.

Here is a partial view of one of such advertisements as an example:


My question is:

what sort of numeracy test are these and how to practice for them?

  • If you know basic math you're probably going to be OK, but you can always call them up and ask. If you're asked to perform any calculations which involve formulas that you do not know, simply ask for them. If you're asked to programatically implement some of those formulas, then that's a slightly different story, as all sorts of weird things can happen depending on the Math library you're using. You may wanna look into implementing some interest rate calculations in whatever language you know they're interested in. – AndreiROM Dec 19 '19 at 16:15
  • In my country insurance and other government regulated jobs are forced to give basic numeracy tests to every applicant. Could this be the case? If so I wouldn't worry too much, the passing score is pretty low. – dustytrash Dec 19 '19 at 16:25
  • this is an example – Marcello Miorelli Dec 19 '19 at 16:34
  • doing some research now I think the tests are actually called numerical reasoning tests not only numeracy tests as advertised. – Marcello Miorelli Dec 19 '19 at 16:36
  • I just googled: "how to practice for numeracy tests in the insurance industry in the UK?" and there were sites that seemed to be offering practice tests and what not. – Dark Matter Dec 19 '19 at 18:17

My old company (London UK based Data Marketing Agency ~ 60 people very tech orientated) used to list this as a skill (for both account team and tech team) it's essentially just to test basic skills.

I didn't have any examples to hand so I had a quick search online to find an example and this site seems to be similar to the ones we would set:

The difficulty level of the maths involved in a numerical reasoning test is only about as difficult as GCSE level. The tricky part is interpreting the numerical data and figuring out what calculation is required, under the pressure of the count-down timer. Here is a list of the most common operations you can expect in your numerical test:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Percentages (including percentage changes)
  • Ratios

Disclaimer - this is just a general example of what to expect, I'm sure it differs from company to company quite a bit but I doubt it will be too different.

  • 1
    yes, I was not sure, but it seems that you got this right, thank you. I will do some more research and if required - choose one online for practicing. – Marcello Miorelli Dec 19 '19 at 16:39
  • From a quick look, most of them are all pretty similar and similar to one I've experienced – Gamora Dec 19 '19 at 16:43

The accepted answer is great, but I would like to add a little bit on 'numeracy' tests, aptitude tests or assessments and how you might approach them as a candidate.

The term 'numeracy' refers to a broad class of tests. Unless otherwise specified, they should be performed without technical aids (calculators and such). Often times, you are allowed pen and paper to make notes. Tests usually involve some sort of time limit, for example:

  1. They may limit the amount of time you can spend on each individual question, simulating numerical reasoning under pressure.
  2. Or they give you a set timespan, in which you have to answer as many questions correctly as possible. Your skill level is determined by the number of questions that you can answer correctly within the time limit. Some tests prioritize accuracy over speed by penalizing incorrect answers.
  3. Or you do not get a timespan, but the testing tool assigns you incrementally more difficult questions until you start taking too long or start failing consistently.

These tests are heavily susceptible to both training effects and cross-training effects. Training yourself on even a few sample questions of a test increases your performance (relative to untrained individuals of a similar base skill level). However, I would recommend that you do a few questions of many tests rather dan doing many questions of a single test. The testing market is large and methodology varies by testing company.

This is where cross-training comes in: Your confidence in your ability to read, correctly interpret and execute the instructions of a 'new' numeracy test will help your performance more than any sort of test-specific training.

Some example queries that may help you find practice questions:

  • Mental Arithmetic, Basic Numeracy
  • Number Sequences
  • Data Interpretation, Graph Interpretation
  • Numerical Estimation
  • Combine with: Aptitude, Assessment or test.

Keywords on the same line indicate that I'd expect these to be used interchangeably. For coding interviews, you could also look at Verbal Reasoning, Logical Reasoning and Spatial Reasoning. These are often part of Abstract Reasoning tests.

There is a huge market for training packages for all kinds of aptitude tests. In my personal opinion and experience, this is a huge scam. Most tests are norm-referenced, meaning that candidates are compared to a population average. If you have a degree in a somewhat mathematically inclined field (CS/AI, statistics, econometry/finance, physics), you are likely to score in the top 20% on a bad day, without any preparation. You need to massively increase your raw test score to reach top 5%.

I think you shouldn't train too much: Occasionally someone managed to get a degree and makes a half-decent impression during the in-person interview, despite being utterly incapable of reasoning effectively about simple abstract or numerical concepts. I have yet to meet an otherwise good candidate who flunks the assessment. Differences in tests scores between candidates never influenced a hiring decision I was involved in. At my current and past employers (in the Netherlands), aptitude tests are only used to ensure that candidates meet a reasonable skill floor.

  • very interesting, this is exactly what I was after, including your personal opinion and experience. – Marcello Miorelli Dec 20 '19 at 11:32

Just a slightly extended comment as to why these companies give you such tests and what they want to know.

This is an insurance company so a lot of numbes are floating around. First, if some basic operations need to be done, do you have to rely on a computer/ calculater to do them for you or can you do easy computations in your head? Second, if you did use a computer but something went wrong, would you notice? Do you get an intuition of 'wait, this can't be right' and then check a little more carefully or do you blindly trust what the computer says?

This is a little harder to test for that what a typical numeracy test does but that is the skill they actually need.

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