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Shlomik silbiger author

My name is Shlomik, Jobtestprep's mechanical aptitude specialist, and the developer of the Mechanical Aptitude, Bennett, Ramsay, and EIAT packs.

Have a question? Contact me at shlomik_mech@jobtestprep.com.


What Are Mechanical Aptitude Tests?

Mechanical aptitude tests (also known as mechanical reasoning or comprehension tests) assess your basic mechanical knowledge. Basic mechanical knowledge is your ability to understand basic physical principles and apply them to various scenarios.

The questions in these tests will usually contain one or more images and a multiple-choice question with 3-4 possible answers.

Mechanical tests contain questions on several topics. Examples for topics include gears, fluid mechanics, pulleys, thermodynamics (heat transfer), etc. Some of these subjects are more common than others and are therefore more important to master in order to succeed.

Want to get a glimpse? Check out our free sample test.


How to Succeed in Mechanical Tests

Practicing for mechanical aptitude tests requires a different approach to other types of aptitude testing. Unlike numerical or verbal reasoning tests, mechanical tests do not assess your technique, knowledge or speed. They are geared more towards: "do you have a feeling for it?"

That's why 95% of the questions in mechanical aptitude tests require no calculations and can be solved by a well-practiced person in a matter of seconds.

So how do you become this well-practiced person?

Following are the 4 ground rules to practice correctly and score high on mechanical reasoning tests:

 

Ground Rule #1 - Learn Physical Principles

That is the number one thing when approaching mechanical tests. I cannot stress this enough.

Why is learning the principles so important?

You simply cannot prepare yourself for each and every possible mechanical question. The variations are infinite.

What you CAN do is to understand the couple of dozens of principles that stand at the heart of these tests. Learn them, practice them, memorize them and apply them to any question the test might throw at you.

 

★ Sample - Can You Spot the Physical Principle?

The following are two typical questions of mechanical aptitude tests. After solving question 1, you should be able to use the physical principle behind it to solve question 2.

So, can you spot the principle?

Question 1

Which ball will hit the ground first?

mechanical aptitude sample 1

 

The answer to this question is that both balls will hit the floor at the same time.

Free falling does not depend on the mass of the element, and each object falls a given distance at the exact same time.

Now, before you ask whether a bowling ball falls down as fast as a feather, remember that this has to do with air resistance. Air resistance is considered a "real world minutiae" which you should ignore in mechanical reasoning tests. We'll talk a bit about that later.

Question 2

Which ball will hit the ground first?

mechanical aptitude test sample 2

You might have guessed that the correct answer, in this case, is also that both balls will hit the floor at the exact same moment. But why?

Initially, it seems like a completely different question. Both balls have the same weight, but their trajectories are different. However, the physical principle about free falling remains the same – the falling speed of both balls is equal.

HORIZONTALLY, the blue ball is moving faster, and that's why it will land farther from the table, but VERTICALLY, they are both falling at the exact same speed, so the answer doesn't change.

The physical principle: The free-fall speed of two falling objects is always identical, regardless of shape, size, or mass. 

 

Ground Rule #2 - Not All Subjects Were Created Equal

That one is a big one, too.

Remember that what eventually matters is your total score. So, it is crucial to practice first, and the hardest, on subjects that have the largest number of questions in the test.

If you know which test you're taking, we've made the work for you. But if not, it could be quite baffling.

To help you with that, we've analyzed and deconstructed hundreds of questions in the 4 most common mechanical tests used by U.S. employers – the Bennett, Wiesen, Ramsay MAT and EEI Tests and made an average. This is not an exact science, but this is a good approximation of what you can expect:

Read further to understand what each topic means and view a sample question of each.

 mechanical aptitude test subjects

Generally, when taking a mechanical aptitude test, the bulk of the questions will deal with force and moment, fluids and velocity, covering around 62% of the test combined. It is therefore wise to focus initially on these subjects.

Important note: The data presented here is a general rule of thumb for you to practice if you don't know which test you are going to take. In case you do, it is ALWAYS better to practice the specific exam. For instance, the mechanical section of the EIAT (Elevator Industry Aptitude Test) is much more heavily focused on gears, wheels, and pulleys than the standard mechanical exam.

 

Ground Rule #3 - Learn What to Look at

Mechanical reasoning tests have a rather simple question format – one or more images, a line or two of text phrasing the question, and usually 3-4 possible answers. That's pretty much it.

However, since the questions themselves are so simple, test providers tend to make them tricky and confusing, misleading you from the main purpose of the question. Here are 3 tips to help you avoid some of these pitfalls:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, neglect all “real world minutiae" – self-weight of elements, air resistance, friction, material strength, etc.  In mechanical reasoning tests only physical principles matter.
  • If two objects seem identical in an image, it is safe to assume they are identical.
  • Images will sometimes be intentionally crude and unclear to throw you off. The Ramsay MAT and Wiesen tests are especially notorious for this. Be prepared for this, and if you find yourself unable to answer the question, take an educated guess and move on.

 

Ground Rule #4 - Go to the Extremes

Many of the questions in a mechanical aptitude test will ask you to compare two scenarios. (e.g. is it harder to row with a long or short paddle?) In such questions, if you’re not sure of the effect, go to extremes (e.g. think of a 1km vs a 1cm paddle).  That will, in most cases, direct you towards the correct answer.


Mechanical Aptitude Tests Content and Examples

Mechanical reasoning tests contain roughly 10 subjects. As I've previously mentioned, the number of questions on each subject differs, so your practice should focus on the major subjects first.

Following are examples for all ten subjects on mechanical aptitude tests:

Force and Moment

A very broad subject dealing with the concepts of force, moment (torque) and equilibrium. These principles will be presented to you mainly via mechanisms like levers and structures, and everyday situations such as carrying a hammer or tightening a screw.

★ Sample Question

In which direction should the acrobat move his body to balance the seesaw? (If neither, Mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample force moment

The correct answer is B.

A seesaw is an example of a first-class lever, where the fulcrum is between the effort and load. For the seesaw to be balanced, the torque applied by the acrobat must increase. Since the weight of the acrobat is constant, the only way to increase the input torque is by increasing the distance from the fulcrum.
Moving in direction B will shift the acrobat’s center of gravity farther from the fulcrum, resulting in greater torque, thereby balancing it.

The physical principle: The law of the lever, 2nd class. The farther the load is from the fulcrum, the more torque will be formed on that arm.

 

Fluid Mechanics

That's the home for any question that has anything to do with fluids (either liquid or gas). Where is the water pressure higher? Will the load sink or float? Will gas expand or contract when heated? All of these are examples of questions that can appear in this section.

★ Sample Question

Which of the three following diagrams is correct?

mechanical aptitude test sample fluids

The correct answer is A.


The bending of the partition is caused by a pressure difference on both sides. That pressure difference is determined by the level of water in each container.

The pressure is determined by the height of water on the container – the higher the water – the greater the pressure.
In A, the partition bends to the right, suggesting the pressure is greater on the left side. That is consistent with the higher water level on the left side.
In B, the partition is flat, suggesting there is no pressure difference between its two sides, despite the different water levels. Therefore, this answer is false.
In C, the partition bends to the left, suggesting the pressure is greater on the right side. That contradicts the higher water level on the left side. Therefore, this answer is also false.


The physical principle: Higher water level – higher pressure at the bottom.

 

Velocity

The 101 of physics, with the very questions that troubled the ancestors of classical mechanics like Newton and Galileo. Acceleration, gravity and Newton's laws are all common subjects in this bread-and-butter section.

★ Sample Question

In which way is the wagon accelerating? (If either, mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample velocity

The correct answer is A.

The pendulum is moving backward; therefore, the car is accelerating in the opposite direction. That happens when an object is located within an accelerating system. In the same way, you feel pulled backwards when the car is speeding up or forwards when it is braking.

The physical principle: When an object is within an accelerating system (another object that accelerates or decelerates), the force on the inner object will be in the direction opposite to the acceleration.

Note: Deceleration is considered backwards acceleration.

 

Thermodynamics

A big name for a fascinating subject – heating, cooling, condensation, and evaporation are discussed here. Next time you want to cool your beer fast, you'll know how to do it.

★ Sample Question

In which direction will the pressure gauge move if the closed oxygen canister is heated? (If either, mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample thermodynamics

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Electricity

A completely different set of rules and principles dominates the electricity section. Questions here will deal with the fundamentals of electricity like the definition of current and voltage and electrical circuits.

★ Sample Question

Which bulb will light up? (If both, Mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample electricity

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Wheels

In these questions, you will usually need to understand the relationship between wheel size and speed, rotational vs. linear velocity, etc.

★ Sample Question

Which part on the wheel will rotate faster? (If equal, Mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample wheels

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Gears

Gears questions will present you with some mechanism of gears and racks, and will normally ask things like "in which direction does gear x rotate", or "which gear rotates faster, A or B?"

★ Sample Question

In which direction does the grey wheel turn? (If neither, mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample gears

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Pulleys

Pulley questions are more sophisticated than wheels questions, and will normally show you one or two pulley systems, asking things like "which pulley requires more force to lift the load?"

★ Sample Question

Which pulley system requires more force to lift the box? (If equal, mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test pulleys

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Acoustics

Which bell makes a lower-pitched sound, a big one or a small one? What is the Doppler Effect? The basic principles of sound are dealt with in acoustics questions.

★ Sample Question

Which siren will sound higher-pitched to the man? (If equal, Mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample acoustics

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 

Optics

These questions deal with the basic concepts of light, reflection, and sight. Definitely a subject that requires a deeper understanding of the physics behind the scenes.

★ Sample Question

How will the man see his image in the mirror? (If neither, mark C.)

mechanical aptitude test sample optics

Start Practicing to find out the answer.

 


Which Test Will You Be Taking?

As I've mentioned before, it is always better to practice the actual test you will be taking.

Why?

Mechanical aptitude tests are usually 20-25 minutes long. Therefore, time is an important issue in mechanical aptitude tests. Getting familiar with the format of the test in terms of appearance, the number of answer choices and exact topics coverage is what will give you that edge over the competition.

However, if you do not know which test you will be taking, or if a practice pack for the specific test is unavailable, it is recommended to work your way through the generic mechanical pack, learning the physical principles which are the key for success in any mechanical aptitude test.

The most common mechanical tests in the United States are:

BMCT (Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test)

The most common mechanical test today. Its current version II contains 55 questions to be solved in 25 minutes, although some employers still use the old pen-and-paper version I of 68 questions to be solved in 30 minutes.

The questions in the test will always have one or more pictures showing some physical scenario and a question about it, with 3 possible answers, A, B and C.

Learn more about the Bennett Test>>

WTMA (Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude)

This test is pretty similar to the BMCT. It deals with roughly the same topics as the Bennett test and holds the same format of multiple-choice questions with answers A,B and C. The two main differences from the Bennett Test are the number of questions – 60 questions to be solved in 30 minutes, and the drawings which are much more simplistic than in the BMCT.

Learn more about the Wiesen test>>

Ramsay MAT (Mechanical Aptitude Test)

The Ramsay MAT is a much shorter test than the previous two, with only 36 questions to be answered in 20 minutes. In addition, the scenarios on the Ramsay MAT are much more casual and deal with things like home appliances, cooking, working tools, etc. It DOES NOT, however, mean that they are by any way simpler. The drawings are also a pitfall in the Ramsay test, since they are often crude and intentionally confusing.

Learn more about the Ramsay MAT test>>

EEI

Last but not least, the EEI (Edison Electric Institute) tests. These tests are widely popular in the U.S and have a mechanical SECTION along with other subjects, rather than being strictly mechanical. EEI administers a wide variety of tests for positions like plant operators, technicians, meter checkers, and apprentices. Among these are the TECH, CAST, MASS and POSS tests, each with its own composition of subjects.

Learn more about EEI Tests>>


Summary

Mechanical aptitude tests are a special set of tests that measure your “sense” for mechanical issues. Therefore, practicing for these tests should be done wisely, while keeping in mind the more and less substantial subjects and the underlying physical principles behind the questions.

With hundreds of practice questions covering all the different topics in mechanical reasoning tests and detailed explanations addressing dozens of physical principles, JobTestPrep’s PrepPack gives you the best possible solution to get the score you want.

 

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