Numerical reasoning

Numerical tests are almost always part of your assessment, even if the position has little to do with numbers. This is because your potential future employer wants to gain insight into all domains of your intelligence level (abstract, verbal, and numerical). For example, the score on the numerical component is slightly less important for a legal position. However, because employers often have the luxury to select strictly, they can tell the assessment- or selection agency that they will only allow candidates who score above average in the three domains. In short, it is very important to sharpen your calculation skills, so that your sense for numbers improves.

With numerical insights, you have to answer questions based on the information provided. This information is given in the form of tables or graphs.

  • Sometimes you can get the answer directly from the data.
  • Other times, you have to do one or more calculations before you can give your answer.

All the questions have one correct answer. Sometimes, that answer cannot be determined if the data is not sufficient.

  • The information in the tables and graphs is fictitious.
  • It is purely about processing the given information and being able to make the corresponding calculations.

Do not let yourself become confused because an answer is not logical or realistic. The right answer to a problem might be that apes are smarter than humans.

Sample problem

This exercise contains a table with a title. The title is very important because it shows exactly what is represented in the table and therefore what conclusions you can or cannot draw from it.

In which country is the percentage of increase in demand for soft drinks the highest when comparing 2013 with 2009?

Reading the problem thoroughly is always the best way to start. What exactly do they want to know? In this case, they want to know what the largest percentage of increase for 2009 and 2013 is in one country. This means that the information from the years in between is irrelevant.

  • A. Germany
  • B. France
  • C. The Netherlands
  • D. Spain

To complete this task, you have to refresh your knowledge of calculating percentages. Use a calculator and scrap paper. The correct answer is C. The Netherlands. You can count France out right away, because in both 2009 and 2013 the demand for soft drinks is exactly the same: there is no increase.

In Spain, there is an increase of 25,000 liters and in Germany there is even an increase of 100,000 liters. Although the Netherlands has an increase of 15,000 liters, this is the largest increase in relative terms, around 23%. At first sight, many people choose Germany, because here the absolute demand for soft drinks is the greatest, but because there is already a great demand (already 600,000 liters in 2009), the percentage increase is much smaller than in the Netherlands, around 14%.

Do you still know the formula?

(new-old)/old * 100

Tips for solving numerical insight problems

  • Carefully read what exactly is being asked. No calculations until you know what you are looking for! Practice our calculation problems.
  • Do not spend too much time on one question if you have no idea how to find the answer.
  • Make sure you know the multiplication tables from 1 to 15 by heart, this will help you find the right answer faster.
  • Review basic mathematics such as calculations with percentages.
  • Work consistently with your calculator so you can get things done more quickly.
  • Always check to be sure that you have actually answered the question.
  • Try to recreate a numerical insight task, it can increase your familiarity with this type of test.
  • If a graph is shown, look carefully at the x and the y axis so that you know what is being displayed.
  • The title of charts or tables is important to prevent mistakes caused by working too fast.
  • When drawing conclusions, always stick to the information given in the problem.
  • Cross out any answers that you can exclude.
  • Stay calm if the question is not clear at first. Read it again and summarize.
  • Google the terms absolute and relative, because they are widely used in these tasks.
  • Calculate in advance how much time you can allow yourself per exercise.
  • The correct answer does not always have to correspond with reality.
  • View each problem as a challenging puzzle instead of labyrinth that you can’t escape!
  • Look at the overall trend of the variable in complex graphs.
  • When you have little time left, make an educated guess instead of not answering.

Practice makes perfect!

It is very important to practice for a capacity test. If you do not practice, your score may be lower, which often decreases your chances of getting that much-desired job! By practicing, you can solve problems more quickly and efficiently, so that your score will increase.