Why Are Basic Skills Tests Used?

Basic skills tests consist of verbal and quantitative questions, both of which supply employers with a broad spectrum of your skills, abilities, and strengths. Through basic skills assessments, employers can properly hire and place you within their companies and organizations, which makes practicing for these tests essential.


What Is on Basic Skills Tests?

Basic skills exams feature both verbal and quantitative sections, with each section containing various questions types.

Verbal Questions

Verbal reasoning questions are used to measure your ability to understand, analyze, and interpret information. Some of the topics covered are:

  • Sentence completion
  • Vocabulary
  • Sentence construction
  • Information retrieval
  • Understanding of "how-to" instructions
  • Recognizing grammar mistakes

Quantitative Questions

Also known as basic numeracy or numerical literary quantitative questions assess your ability to understand basic mathematical concepts and carry out simple arithmetic calculations. Such calculations include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The most common principles examined in these tests are:

  • The four basic operations
  • Computing rates, proportions, and percentages in applied contexts
  • Solving variable expressions and equations
  • Fractions and decimals
  • Rounding numbers and averages
  • Basic geometry concepts

You generally have a very short amount of time to answer these questions, normally less than 20 seconds per question. In addition, you are not permitted to use a calculator.


Popular Basic Skills Tests

Two of the most popular basic skills tests used by employers today are the Criteria Basic Skills Test and the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test.

The Criteria Basic Skills Test (CBST) contains 40 questions that must be answered within 20 minutes. It is made up of four types of questions: basic grammar, spelling, math, and language skills.

CBST test takers are expected to answer all of the questions, and the average score is rather high at 31. Thus, if you are aiming to score among the top 25% of test takers, you can only make four mistakes.

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test consists of two sections: verbal (50 questions) and quantitative (45 questions). Each section is 20 minutes long. However, it's important to note that some workplaces only use one part of the test, according to their specific needs.


Basic Skills Example Question

Example 1

We waited for 10 minutes. At last the ________ arrived, and we rode it up to the 10th floor.

A. Bus

B. Package

C. Elevator

D. Neighbors

The correct answer is (C).

Example 2

Select the correct answer: 0.58 + 1.29 = ?

A. 1.77

B. 1.87

C. 1.97

D. 1.57

E. 2.11

The correct answer is (B).


Prepare for Basic Skills Tests

JobTestPrep can help you prepare for basic skills tests with our practice tests, detailed answer explanations—which not only help you get the right answers, but also to understand the reasoning behind them—test information, and more. Start preparing for basic skill tests today and get one step closer to the job you're after.