Pre-employment math tests: How to recruit for math skills

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
Close
CTA

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Try for free
Close

Pre-employment math tests: How to recruit for math skills

pre-employment-math-test

It’s hard to evaluate a candidate’s math skills based only on their CV or an interview.

Even if you make assumptions based on their job history or education, it’s still difficult to compare one candidate’s math skills to another’s — especially if their employment histories are similar.

Pre-employment math tests help you to objectively measure whether a candidate has the skills needed to succeed in their role, allowing you to identify strong candidates for even the most technical roles.

Here’s everything you need to know about pre-employment math tests and how to incorporate them into your recruitment strategy.

Table of contents:



What is a pre-employment math test?

A pre-employment math test, also referred to as a math aptitude test, is an evaluation used to screen job applicants for the math skills needed for a particular role.

Pre-employment math tests are short, multiple-choice assessments that are 10 to 30 minutes long. Although the questions are typically not too challenging, the test’s time constraints push candidates to think quickly. This simulates the real-world demands of a job in which candidates must problem-solve on the fly.

The results of the tests are provided both as raw scores (to qualify or disqualify a candidate relative to a minimum threshold) and as percentiles (to compare candidates to one another).

Pre-employment math aptitude tests are one of several types of cognitive ability tests that fall under the larger category of candidate screening tests, which are delivered in the screening stage of the recruitment process.

These tests are given as part of a comprehensive pre-employment skills assessment, which evaluates a candidate on a wide range of hard and soft skills necessary for a position.



Which roles require a math aptitude test for employment?

You should use math aptitude tests for any role that requires math skills or spatial reasoning. The skills needed for these roles don’t necessarily show up on a candidate’s resume or in an interview.

Here are just a few examples of roles and situations in which math skills are needed in the workplace:

roles that require a math aptitude test

  • Manufacturing roles — e.g., to make quick time measurements
  • Service and hospitality roles — e.g., to give a customer change
  • Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) roles — e.g., to measure chemicals
  • Construction and design roles — e.g., to measure dimensions
  • Business and finance roles — e.g., to calculate ROI
  • Other knowledge work roles — e.g., to put a departmental budget together



Why you should test for math skills in the recruitment process

Realistically, most roles involve math to some degree or could be performed more effectively with math skills. Therefore, you should consider including a math skills test as part of any pre-employment assessment.

why test for math skills in the recruitment process

Here are a few compelling arguments for testing for math skills when recruiting candidates:

1. Cognitive ability tests predict job performance

Frank L. Schmidt’s 2002 study showed that cognitive ability tests — when used in combination with other techniques — were the strongest individual predictor of job performance.

2. Math skills tests help identify hidden potential

Math tests help you identify high-potential candidates whom you may have missed because of their thinner resumes.

3. Screening tests save you time and money

Schmidt’s study also showed that cognitive ability tests were the most cost-effective means of hiring employees. This is because screening tests — math tests included — help you weed out unqualified candidates prior to the interview process.

Using a tool like TestGorilla, you can easily and affordably deliver pre-employment assessments at a large scale.

4. Skills assessments help you avoid hiring bias

By having an objective measure for math skills, you can avoid unconscious bias.

For example, there’s a mountain of research that shows how women are pushed out of STEM roles due to societal biases.



Types of pre-employment math tests (and how to use them)

At TestGorilla, we offer four different pre-employment math tests. 

The first three measure a candidate’s math and arithmetic skills with varying degrees of difficulty or complexity. These tests include:

When delivering a pre-employment assessment to a candidate, you only want to give them one of these three tests — the one that tests the most complex skills required for the role — as they overlap in what they measure.

The fourth test is the Spatial Reasoning test, which evaluates a candidate’s ability to analyze objects and space. This can be given in addition to one of the other three tests when relevant to the role.

types of pre-employment math tests

Here’s a detailed breakdown of each test and when to use each one.

1. Basic Double-Digit Math test

The Basic Double-Digit Math test evaluates a job candidate’s basic understanding of numbers and their ability to do simple calculations. These are the math skills that will help with small day-to-day tasks that don’t require complex reasoning or problem-solving.

What skills does this test cover? This test covers the skills necessary to add up measurements or perform time calculations that help candidates measure their time or tasks with greater efficiency. These skills include:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division
  • Calculating time
  • Determining the nearest number

Who is this test best suited for? This test is meant for any role that requires basic math skills at the elementary level — especially service or manufacturing roles that require you to perform math quickly in your head. These include:

  • Manufacturing workers
  • Industrial workers
  • Cashiers
  • Hospitality workers

Sample test question: 

How many minutes pass from 10:33 am to 11:22 am?

  1. 39 minutes
  2. 49 minutes
  3. 89 minutes
  4. 99 minutes

preview of Basic Double-Digit Math test by TestGorilla

For more sample questions, check out the Basic Double-Digit Math test preview.

2. Basic Triple-Digit Math test

The Basic Triple-Digit Math test is the next level up in difficulty from the double-digit test. It tests the candidate on the same basic ability to solve math equations but using triple-digit numbers, fractions, or larger time quantities.

What skills does this test cover? This test assesses a candidate’s ability to perform simple time calculations. It also assesses a candidate’s understanding of the relationship between nearest numbers and fractions. The skills covered in the test include:

  • Addition and subtraction
  • Multiplication and division
  • Calculating time
  • Determining the nearest number, prime numbers, and fractions

Who is this test best suited for? This test is also meant for roles that require basic math skills but at a more intermediate level — especially service or labor roles. These include:

  • Manufacturing workers
  • Industrial workers
  • Cashiers
  • Hospitality workers

Sample test question: 

Assume you have three tasks

The 1st task takes 4 hours 22 minutes 10 seconds to complete.

The 2nd task takes 3 hours 23 minutes 42 seconds to complete.

The 3rd task takes 3 hours 25 minutes 19 seconds to complete.

How long do you need to complete all three tasks?

  1. 11 hours 11 minutes 11 seconds
  2. 11 hours 01 minute 11 seconds
  3. 11 hours 01 minute 01 second
  4. 10 hours 01 minute 01 second

preview of basic triple digit math test by TestGorilla

For more sample questions, check out the Basic Triple-Digit Math test preview.

3. Intermediate Math test

The Intermediate Math test assesses a candidate’s ability to solve math problems that involve fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, and time measurements. Candidates who perform well on this test have a deep understanding of numbers and how to manipulate them to reach a solution.

What skills does this test cover? This test assesses the math skills necessary for more complex problem-solving, such as calculating salaries, projecting growth, and evaluating ROI. These skills include working with:

  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Ratios and percentages
  • Time estimates

Who is this test best suited for? This test is meant for any job role that requires the ability to use higher-level math skills to reach a solution. These include roles in which business decisions need to be made based on facts and figures or development-oriented roles in which physical or time measurements are necessary in decision-making. This includes roles such as:

  • STEM roles
  • Designers
  • Architects
  • Financial workers
  • Knowledge workers who deal with data or analytics

Sample test question: 

What number is missing from the equation?

5.4 X ? = 8.64 X 0.25

  1. 0.25
  2. 0.4
  3. 2.5
  4. 4

preview of Intermediate Math test by TestGorilla

For more sample questions, check out the Intermediate Math test preview.

4. Spatial Reasoning test

The Spatial Reasoning test evaluates a candidate’s understanding, reasoning, and memory with respect to the spatial relationships between objects and space — for example, the ability to manipulate a two- or three-dimensional object in their mind.

What skills does this test cover? This test covers four distinct spatial reasoning abilities that are often encountered in professional life. These include:

  • Mental rotation
  • Spatial working memory
  • Mental folding
  • Spatial visualization

Who is this test best suited for? The Spatial Reasoning test is best used for any role that requires analyzing or manipulating objects. These will primarily be STEM-related careers, such as: 

  • Mechanical engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Researchers
  • Designers
  • Architects

For example, an engineer must be able to imagine how parts of a machine will connect to one another. Spatial reasoning also involves processing numbers or calculating math, so the test can also be used for any role that involves math on a day-to-day basis.

Sample test question:

The image below shows an unfolded box. Assume that anything printed on the surface of the box can be seen from both sides.

Which of the boxes shown below can be achieved by folding the unfolded box?

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D

preview of Spatial Reasoning test by TestGorilla

For more sample questions, check out the Spatial Reasoning test preview.

5. Numerical Reasoning test

The Numerical Reasoning test evaluates the candidate’s overall numeracy skills. It allows you to assess their ability to interpret and use numbers for a wide range of applications in a professional context. 

What skills does this test cover? This test covers four essential numeracy skills that employees might need to use in day-to-day tasks. These include:

  • Interpretation of charts and tables
  • Arithmetic operations
  • Manipulation of data
  • Interpretation of numerical patterns

Who is this test best suited for? The Numerical Reasoning test can be used for a wide variety of roles where candidates need strong numeracy skills to succeed. Examples include: 

  • Accountants
  • Consultants (especially in finance)
  • Insurance agents
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Account managers
  • Sales representatives

You can use the Numerical Reasoning test for any role that requires working with numbers on a day-to-day basis. 

For example, consultants, sales reps, or account managers, need to be able to provide quick and accurate estimates and work with budgets, while accountants need strong numeracy skills to interpret and work with clients’ accounting and financial data. 

Sample test question:

Identify the next number in the following sequence: 

25 - 49 - 97 - ?

  1. 124
  2. 171
  3. 139
  4. 193

preview of Numerical Reasoning test in TestGorilla

For more sample questions, check out the Numerical Reasoning test preview.

Start hiring more math whizzes with TestGorilla

With TestGorilla, it’s simple to introduce pre-employment math tests into your recruitment process. 

To get started with TestGorilla, try our free plan today.

Leave a comment

Hire the best candidates
with TestGorilla.

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

Try for free

Free resources