What Are Cognitive Ability Tests?

A cognitive ability test is another name for the aptitude tests or intelligence tests commonly used throughout the hiring process. When the term cognitive ability test is used in the context of a psychometric assessment, it usually refers to a collection of questions (20–50) that span a wide array of topics (numerical, verbal, deductive, logical, etc.) and allow for very short response times.

Here are some of the most common types of cognitive ability tests and questions:

  • Numerical reasoning – This is the generic term for number-based assessments that range from basic mathematics or arithmetic tests to high-level numerical critical reasoning assessments.
  • Verbal reasoning – These tests evaluate your range of English language skills, such as vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and critical reasoning.
  • Deductive reasoning – On these tests, you must apply certain rules given by a statement or argument to reach specific conclusions.
  • Logical reasoning – These tests assess your ability to read and understand complicated texts and, most importantly, to utilize critical thinking skills to draw conclusions and recognize important facts.
  • Abstract/Figural reasoning –  These tests measure your ability to draw assumptions and conclusions based on information supplied in the form of symbols or matrices. On these tests, you are asked to identify a missing item or diagram that completes a certain pattern of logic.

Cognitive Ability Assessment Tests

Some companies use cognitive ability test batteries that include numerical, verbal, and non-verbal questions. Surprisingly, the question styles across all tests are quite similar. Compare test formats and topics for a better understanding of each test.

Wonderlic – This test comes in two versions: the Wonderlic Personnel Test-Quicktest (WPT-Q) with 30 questions that must be completed in eight minutes and the Wonderlic Personnel Test-Revised (WPT-R) with 50 questions that must be completed in 12 minutes.

Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) – The Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) is a general pre-employment aptitude test that measures a candidate's aptitude, problem-solving abilities, skill learning capabilities, and critical thinking. It consists of 50 questions and has a 15-minute time limit.

Professional Learning Indicator (PLI) – The Predictive Index Learning Indicator (PI Learning Indicator), formerly known as the Professional Learning Indicator (PLI), is a 12-minute test comprised of 50 questions. The PLI is given to potential hires to test for skills not easily found on a resume or during an interview. The purpose of the PLI assessment is to measure your cognitive ability or your capacity to learn and adapt in the workplace.

Cognitive Ability Test Questions

Example 1

This example question is a verbal analogy question, asking about the relationship between pairs of words.

The answer is: "DOG is to BARK"
Answer explanation: The first word is an animal, the second word describes the way the animal communicates. A 'wolf' 'howls' just like a 'dog' 'barks'. 

Example 2

This example question is a number series question. This type of question presents a series of numbers and requires to understand the pattern in order to predict the next number in the series.

The answer is: 25.

Answer explanation: This series is a variation of the famous Fibonacci sequence: each term equals the sum of the two previous terms minus 2.

Example 3

This sample question is a figural reasoning question. This type of question involves reasoning using patterns, shapes, and symbols that have no mathematical or verbal meaning. This question asks which shape is the next in the series.

The answer is: the first one on the left.

Answer explanation: The patterns here is that each hexagon is divided into three parallelograms, each of them containing a shape. In each hexagon there are two similar shapes but of different sizes. The smaller shape is always in the lower parallelogram.

Cognitive Ability Test Preparation

Cognitive ability tests present two major obstacles: short time frames and questions that include known tricks and distracters. Luckily, you can overcome these two obstacles with the right practice.

JobTestPrep's preparation pack offers a comprehensive review of all the question types seen on contemporary employers' cognitive ability tests. Practicing the full range of numerical, verbal, deductive, spatial, and logical reasoning questions under strict time frames can greatly assist in improving your scores. We also provide detailed answer explanations, helping you to understand the logic behind each question. Furthermore, our insightful score reports can help you assess your own cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Start preparing today to ensure your success.