Mechanical Reasoning Tests: Prepare, Improve & Get Top Results
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A mechanical reasoning test is designed to check your knowledge base and technical skill level.
You might be requested to take one before or after a job interview to see if your mechanical reasoning is good enough for the role you are applying for.
Unlike some tests, which measure your underlying intellectual ability, a mechanical reasoning test requires a base amount of knowledge, so preparation is crucial.
Sometimes they are known as mechanical comprehension tests or by the names of their providers (such as SHL or Bennett tests – these will be covered in more detail below).
Many employers, such as Amazon, Shell and Volvo, are known to use these kinds of tests in the selection process to evaluate your abilities in understanding and applying mechanical concepts for solving problems.
They believe these tests can predict to some degree your success in the job they are recruiting for.
Mechanical reasoning aptitude tests are used by recruiters who want to assess your skills and knowledge.
In general, it would be those with an engineering or mechanical/IT background who would be expected to take these tests by a potential employer.
These types of tests are used in the recruitment process for a variety of professions, even if you don’t have a specific mechanical background.
These roles might be in the armed forces or emergency services and even for manufacturing or technical trades like plumbing.
Mechanical reasoning tests are often used through the hiring process but are most commonly seen after the interview stage. Usually, this would be in the context of an assessment center or within recruitment trials where you might encounter more types of psychometric tests also.
Some companies have a rigorous online application process, though, and use these tests at an earlier stage to weed out weaker candidates.
Employers expect that a good score on mechanical reasoning tests would lead to strong job performance and, therefore, may hire their staff on that basis.
The general format of a mechanical reasoning test presents various scenarios, diagrams or images with questions based on these.
They can also be industry specific, so if you were applying for a role in the army, you would expect military scenarios, for example.
You should expect questions centered around mechanical/physical principles and electrical concepts, though the topics and types of questions can vary depending on what the test is and who the potential employers are.
There can also be questions around tools and terminology; for example, you may be shown a picture of a tool and then have to pick out its name from a few multiple-choice answers.
You are likely to face mechanical scenarios including concepts such as gravity, acceleration, circuits, pressure, friction, power, kinetic and potential energy.
Regarding questions on electricity, they usually take the form of simple circuit diagrams, so you need a basic understanding of how it flows around.
Each question will give multiple-choice options but only have one correct answer, so where you can, double-check your calculations.
The time taken to do a mechanical reasoning test is always strictly timed, and they usually last twenty to thirty minutes, with a similar number of questions.
You should aim to answer at least one or two questions approximately per minute.
It’s worth noting, though, that these tests are designed so that most people cannot finish all the questions (only a small minority do), so your accuracy matters more than completion.
It’s a good idea to do mechanical reasoning practice tests as they are designed to put you under pressure.
The more practice you do, the better you will be at managing the time constraints and working accurately.
Test questions will vary in difficulty, but they do not necessarily get more complicated as you go along.
If you want some examples of what would be on a mechanical reasoning test in terms of questions and answers, here are some samples:
Convex mirrors are used in vehicular rear-view mirrors. Why would one use a convex mirror as opposed to a flat mirror?
a) Convex mirrors are more flattering to the watcher
b) The reflection is clearer
c) Blind spots are reduced by the wider angle of view
d) The reflection is more accurate
The correct answer is: c)
How many switches need to be closed to light up one bulb?
The correct answer is: b) two switches need to be closed to complete a circuit.
A mechanical reasoning test might also be called a mechanical comprehension test.
There are a few different providers; in terms of variation between the tests, the level of difficulty will vary according to the mechanical skills required for the job you are applying for.
There is no set or standard mechanical reasoning test that every employer uses. Some of the main providers of these tests are SHL, Bennett and Ramsey.
SHL is one of the most common test providers; their Verify Mechanical Comprehension Test is taken online and unsupervised.
If you take the test, you have to interpret images of simple mechanical concepts such as gears, levers and pulleys.
This particular test has fifteen questions to be answered in ten minutes and would be used to assess basic skills, perhaps involving maintaining or repairing machinery and designing mechanical components.
The Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test (BMCT-11) is the successor to the original Bennett test (now retired) and is mostly used for mechanical and engineering roles.
It contains 55 questions with a 25-minute time limit which aims to check for spatial visualization and an understanding of machinery as well as mechanical comprehension.
The Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test II has twelve categories of mechanical questions, most commonly covering pulleys, levers and gears, hydraulics, structures, planes and slopes.
In their scoring, you have to get 80% or higher to do well on the test, though you should aspire to get 90% or higher to really stand out and get hired.
Another common one is the Ramsay Mechanical Aptitude (MAT) typically used for jobs that involve technical maintenance and production, like mechanics and machine operators.
The four main areas covered in this test are household objects, hand and power tools, production and maintenance and science and physics.
The latest version of the test is the Ramsay MAT-4, and unlike some of the other tests, it’s less focused on being a measure of current skills and knowledge; instead, it assesses your potential to learn and check if you can apply mechanical concepts in a professional environment.
It’s also one of the tests that specifically attempts to avoid any gender, social or cultural biases and has thirty-six questions to be completed within twenty minutes.
You can prepare by researching mechanical reasoning study guides, and there are also some common-sense tips we recommend:
As mentioned before, they can vary in length and focus.
Having this information will help you prepare better (employers typically provide this info in advance but ask the HR department or other relevant contacts you have if necessary).
Read through all guidance from the employer and test provider and be sure you understand it.
This sounds basic; however, you’d be surprised at how often people skim through the important information and therefore miss salient details.
Mechanical principles and formulas, such as those for area, leverage, and volume, are the basis for all your work.
Starting with what you know will stand you in good stead when things get a bit more complicated.
Practice as much as you can using past tests, sample questions and preparatory packs (make sure these are as current as possible).
This will build your confidence.
Also consider getting practical; have a go at taking mechanical equipment apart, for example, to better understand how it works. You can even try working with different tools and equipment or user manuals you might not normally read to broaden your knowledge base.
When it comes to planning your preparation, create a realistic schedule you can stick to and get into a regular routine of answering the practice questions so that they are no longer daunting.
This practice will also help you familiarize yourself with the typical question formats so that they become second nature to you.
When you’re practicing, be aware of self-management.
Continually assess your strengths and weaknesses (so that you know where to add focus if needed).
You can even ask a study buddy or hire a tutor to help you with the parts that need improvement.
Having an outside perspective can also help you check how competitively you are scoring during the practice questions.
When it comes to pass a mechanical reasoning test, some general extra strategies are also helpful:
1. Practice Good Time Management.
Divide your time properly between the number of questions for example.
This skill doesn’t apply just in the test; make sure you are making the best use of time in the days and weeks leading up to the day.
If you challenge yourself during the preparation process by using a timer or asking a friend to invigilate, that will also help you get used to actual test conditions.
Recreating exam quietness as much as you can, with minimal distractions, will make you focus better.
When we’re under stress, we can often panic and not pay full attention.
Look out for the tricky ones that are designed to test you but don’t dwell too much if you get stuck, just make an educated guess.
There is no advantage to leaving a question unanswered when it’s multiple-choice, so be sure to at least attempt them all.
Take a break from studying and get a good rest the night before, make sure you eat a nutritious breakfast on the day of the test, stay hydrated throughout, and utilize calming techniques such as box breathing.
Many things can be done to ensure that you give the best possible performance on the day of the mechanical reasoning assessment.
Some of the best tips include:
- Practice speed reading and answering questions against the clock
- Revise mechanical principles and formulas
- Take practice papers
- Research the precise test you will be taking so that you can properly tailor your revision to it
The exact number of questions you will face will depend on exactly which test you are taking as each test will have a different number of questions.
For example, SHL has 15 questions, whereas the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test has 55.
The passing score will vary from test to test depending on which format you are asked to take.
Individuals taking the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test are required to achieve a score of above 80% to pass, with many companies insisting on candidates achieving scores above 90% to be hired.
Not really, Most people find that they don’t need anything more than high-school-level mathematical knowledge.
The ability to understand and to apply mechanical concepts in solving problems is important for many industries.
To demonstrate that you can do the job well, you will need to show a good grasp of technical skills in taking mechanical reasoning tests at the assessment stage.
When you take a mechanical reasoning test, it helps to know what to expect and how to answer the questions.
The more you practice, the better you will score when compared to the other potential employees.
Get familiar with test structures, the format of questions and how efficiently you need to work to ensure a balance of accuracy and speed so that you score well on test day.