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How To Nail The Pre-Employment Test: Decode Part II

Is there a way to nail the Pre-Employment test?  A way to study beforehand and beat out all the multitudes of others taking the SAME test for the SAME job you want so badly?  Afterall, many Pre-Employment are not so different from taking a College entrance exam like a SAT or LSAT test.  Right? Think about it, there are tons of companies, like Kaplan Test Prep, that make a lot of money prepping people for those tests and make claims that they can improve your test scores.  So can you study to improve your Pre-Employment Test Scores too?  My answer will be a frustrating reply, "Yes and no".  Let me explain why first and then let me give you 5 great tips that just may improve your test score! 

First of all, it is almost impossible to study effectively for a Pre-Employment Test, UNLESS perhaps you are an Accountant or have other some quantifiable skill set that can be tested against STANDARDIZED criteria.  After all, you either get the answer right or wrong when it comes to LIFO or FIFO (the only thing I can remember from my accounting classes).  By the the way, those technical type of positions are still tested against other harder to measure markers (think culture fit), but obviously the base skills of the job are VERY measurable.  Still, there must be a way to study for those more nebulous areas of the test, right?  Here are my thoughts.

To understand why it is more difficult to prepare for a Pre-Employment test vs. the SAT test I need to share a little history with you on that college test you took (some of you long ago).   At one time the abbreviated "SAT" test stood for the Standardized Assessment Test, but the testing was changed in 2005 and thy changed what the acronym SAT stands stands for nothing!  No lie!  In 2005 the testing was changed and they decided that the acronym SAT would be kept (an empty acronym basically) and the test would now be called The SAT Reasoning Test.  I say, "Whatever!"  Come on, these tests are still STANDARDIZED to measure High School Students against THE SAME academic criteria; standardization across the country, a standard set for ALL college schools to base their student acceptance upon.  So, it is published criteria and everyone knows what they have to do to perform on those tests, so do all the Kaplan's of the world. 

If you read my Part I of this series, Learn How To Decode The Pre-Employment Test, then you know exactly how companies determine their standardization for their tests!  Hence, standardization becomes the HUGE difference between studying for a SAT Test vs. a Pre-Employment test!  Almost every major company hires an independent third party testing group to standardize a test for THEIR COMPANY.  No two companies are alike! How do you study for that? Besides, no company is going to reveal their standardization criteria!  They want you to take it RAW!  Who can blame them?  They want to see the real you, not the studied up you! 

In addition, Pre-Employment tests usually have several subject category segments that would fall under what some of you still call Personality Tests.  As mentioned in my Part I of this series, you are being earmarked against what that company considers their standardization for preferred or acceptable psychological behaviors that affect decision making.  Many of you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®  (MBTI®); there are still some companies that use that program for hiring criteria, but most have a similar type of psychological or behavioral testing category incorporated within one or several test categories.  It does not usually benefit you to guess on the type of person they want to hire and then try to answer the questions the way YOU THINK that type of person would answer it!  More on that subject in Part III of this series.  

So given all this, do you give up on preparing for a Pre-Employment test?  Absolutely NOT!  There a a few secrets I will share with you that may make a difference in your score.  Just remember, even if you could study up on a test, let's take that SAT Reasoning Test for instance, you still don't have guarantees you will nail it.  What it will do is PERHAPS increase your chances of gaining a higher score.  As Forest Gump put it, "Simple is as simple does."  A person can study for the SAT test until the cows come home, but if they don't have the rocks to rattle the cage.....well you know what I mean.

Back to the secrets on how to prepare as best you can for the Pre-Employment test.  You must ask the questions of the hiring manager or your recruiter to figure out a few key test taking elements.  Here are a few that most companies (hiring manager or recruiter) may share with you.


Questions to Ask BEFORE You Take a Pre-Employment Test

  1. Is this a timed test?  Let's face it, everyone does better on tests that are not timed!  That means you can take your time and maybe even have a few books or resources nearby to reference if needed (if they are hard core testable categories).
  2. How long is the average length of time needed to complete one of these tests?  It makes a difference to mentally and physically prepare for a test that may take 1 hour vs. 3 hours.  Yes, some of these tests can take up to 3 hours long.  Adjust your test taking environment and make the time necessary to anticipate the experience you are about to encounter.  
  3. Ask what happens to the test if you get timed out (your computer freezes or there is an internet glitch..oh, I assume you all know that these tests are ALL on line).  This is important, they may share with you that you should be saving the document as you go on line OR if their system will time you out with inactivity; like you taking a lunch break during the test.  If that happens, some companies testing site does NOT RETAIN your work!  In fact, if you go back to restart it all over again, they give you a "like test", not the exact same one.
  4. What categories or subject areas will I be tested?  Wow, if they give you this one, you are lucky.  That said, almost all of these have similar categories they test for.  I will address this in the Part III of this series.
  5. Is there anyway I can study or prepare for this specific test?  Yes, ask!  If the hiring manager has selected you to take the test he has probably already interviewed you and wants you to do well!  He may throw a few bones your way; pick them up quickly and run with it.  The recruiter may know too.


So can you study up to nail the Pre-Employment Test?  You can prepare and there are ways to study up a bit if you know the test categories, but remember, there is no USA standardization for these tests for you to prepare fully like you can for a SAT.  That said, if you know the test categories, you can do some homework.  I will address this in Part III of this series.  Also remember the obvious if you have control over your test environment (taking the test on line at a location of your choosing vs. at the company designated location); make it quiet, comfortable and take the test with a computer you are familiar with using routinely.  Just remember what your mother use to tell you before a big test day, "Do your homework and get a good nights sleep, that's all you can go to bed!"   Sometimes simple is as simple does.

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