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Aptitude Tests

Mechanical Reasoning Test

What Is a Mechanical Reasoning Test?

A mechanical reasoning test is an assessment used to determine how well a candidate can apply reasoning in a hands-on environment. They are often used as part of the interview process for the military, emergency services or engineering jobs. Some apprenticeships also involve mechanical reasoning tests.

Mechanical reasoning tests usually involve questions on the following: maps, gears, tools, electrical circuits, pulleys, simple electrical circuits, springs, arithmetic, and levers. Subjects will need a thorough understanding of all these and how they work.

Mechanical reasoning tests are different from abstract reasoning tests. Abstract reasoning tests assess the candidate’s intelligence and not their knowledge.

Types of Mechanical Reasoning Tests

There are six main types of mechanical reasoning test:

Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude

This test is used to recruit employees to operate, repair, install and maintain machinery and service tools. The test takes 30 minutes and candidates should complete a question every 30 seconds. This test was designed specifically to minimise bias based on gender and race. It is available in English and Spanish.

Assessors use the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude to identify machine operators, mechanics and electricians. It also helps employers find candidates who can excel as field service technicians and construction workers.

Bennett Test of Mechanical Comprehension

This test looks specifically at the affect physical force has on mechanics. It’s most commonly used as part of the recruitment process for engineers and mechanics. The test assesses candidates on their spatial perception skills.

Stenquist Test of Mechanical Aptitude

The Stenquist Test of Mechanical Aptitude is slightly different from the others. This is because its questions ask candidates to link pictures together and identify rules and patterns. It is much more like an abstract reasoning test, and does not need a background understanding of mechanics.

Barron’s Test of Mechanical Aptitude

The military developed Barron’s Test of Mechanical Aptitude and it is often used as part of their recruitment because it specifically tests for qualities they find desirable. It can be completed on paper or using a computer.

US Department of Defence Test of Mechanical Aptitude

This test is also used by the military to test a candidate’s understanding of machinery and mechanics. Subjects should have a thorough understanding of the following: hydraulics, pulleys, levers, resolution of forces, centrifugal force, inertia, structures, slopes, planes, gravity, velocity, belt drives and gears.

SHL Mechanical Comprehension Test

The SHL Mechanical Comprehension Test was developed to determine a candidate’s ability to understand simple mechanical principles and how they apply to levers, gears and other machinery. It is used as part of the recruitment process for engineers, manufacturers, transporters and construction and maintenance workers. The test has 15 questions and takes ten minutes.

How to Prepare for a Mechanical Reasoning Test

It is important for candidates to prepare for a mechanical reasoning test. Most of them test the candidate’s understanding of mechanical principles, so revising these is essential.

Due to the nature of the knowledge, it may help candidates to take either a physical or theoretical approach to revision. Subjects should find out which type of test they’ll be taking and what it will involve so they can prioritise this.

It’s also useful to do some practice papers. These are available online. Apprentices may be able to gain access to practice papers from their school or college. Test papers allow a candidate to get used to the time limits and see the layout and formatting of questions.

Mechanical Reasoning Test Tips

  • Candidates should read through questions carefully before answering. They could take the time to identify everything being asked of them. Then they can check that it has been thoroughly addressed before moving on.
  • Candidates should consider multiple mechanical techniques. Then they should select the most appropriate to answer the question.
    Candidates could use previous experience from the workplace or training.
  • If candidates finish the questions before the test ends they should re-read it and check their answers.
  • Candidates should do some preparation work, including practice questions and revision.

What Sort of Questions Can Subjects Expect?

The type of question the candidate gets depends on the test and level they’re being assessed on. There are also a variety of topics- please see above for more information. Some tests are specialized for the job the candidate is applying for.

However, there are some conventions that candidates are likely to encounter. The candidate will be given a picture showing a mechanical problem or scenario, and then have to answer questions about it. It is likely to include a reference to issues with a machine, kinetic or potential energy or friction.

Candidates may also need to identify the tools they would need to fix a problem.

Where Are the Mechanical Reasoning Tests Used?

Mechanical reasoning tests are used primarily in educational establishments and job interviews. For the latter, prospective employees will usually have to have the correct experience and qualifications to be considered and therefore will not find the mechanical reasoning test especially difficult; however, it is still worth preparing to make sure that this is not the reason they miss out.

Mechanical reasoning tests are usually used in the following jobs: military, manufactures, emergency services, or engineering jobs.