Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

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clinpsymember
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Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by clinpsymember » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:54 pm

Hi all,

I was wondering if any of you who have previously taken the SHL tests used at Lancaster have any idea what scores are needed to get an interview? I realise of course that this can change from year to year, but I am really struggling with the numerical reasoning test and I am wondering what a "good" score would be? The verbal ones seem slightly better, but as I realise most people find that, I am also wondering whether you would need a near perfect score on this one to get to interview?

Thanks a lot for any help!

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RJParker
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by RJParker » Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:39 am

Hi there,

If you were to assume that the cohort of applicants maintained the same level of performance year on year (they don't) and that we used the most able comparison group for the purposes of scoring (we do - professional & managerial) you'd be looking at a mean score across the two tests over the 70th percentile to get an interview (top 72). That's very rough estimation on my part across several years of figures and includes a change in comparison group. We get an almost perfect normal distribution of scores; most people are in the middle.

HOWEVER... the practice tests provided by SHL do not indicate the difficulty level of the actual tests. You will notice they are set questions which do not change. The tests themselves change in difficulty as you answer questions so that they can find your level rapidly. They get increasingly difficult if you do well until you are no longer able to answer the questions - that is why everyone finds it hard. If you have a previous candidate report from SHL on the two tests you might be able to compare assuming the same comparison group was used but even then I'm not sure it'd be that helpful given the shifts in cohort performance.

Rob

lingua_franca
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:11 am

I took the SHL verbal practice test the other day and scored in the 63rd centile, so I'd miss the cutoff easily. I find that I consistently perform poorly on such tests and have done since childhood. I do have specific learning difficulties, yet on the WISC my scores were consistently high across verbal subtests (I just dug out my assessment report and it says top 0.3% of age-related peers). Before I went to university I had another educational psychology assessment and my WAIS scores followed the same pattern - strong verbal skills, poor non-verbal abilities. So I'm intrigued by my poor performance on a test of verbal reasoning when other measures suggest that this should be an area of strength. On the practice test some things felt imprecisely worded to me and I could see ways for multiple answers to be true, so I'm wondering if it's a subtle pragmatics issue. Either way, it's frustrating because it rules out an application to Plymouth, which I've just spent a whole PhD really getting to love community psychology. :P I know that candidates with specific learning difficulties are given a lower threshold for these tests, but it seems that's unlikely to help me. Is anyone else in this boat?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

SamH
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by SamH » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:05 pm

Hi Lingua_franca I'm not in the same boat in terms of difficulties but when I first done the verbal test I scored really bad (can't remember exactly, but more than half wrong.) I got a book 'How to Pass Advanced Verbal Reasoning Tests' it's helped A LOT! It has practice questions and most importantly answers! Explaining the logic behind the way questions are phrased and how to think about them.
Like you I would have previously felt my verbal/listening/ comprehension skills are strong, and they are, but I found that in the test you have to be incredibly specific. My scores are much better now.

lingua_franca
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:26 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. It does make me puzzled about another thing, though - I thought the purpose of selection tests was to level the playing field for people with non-traditional educational backgrounds, so I would expect them to be testing raw ability, not be the sort of test you have to beaver up for with special textbooks. Otherwise how is it different from a more conventional exam?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

RJParker
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by RJParker » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:09 pm

I'd point you back to my comments about the practise tests not being representative of the actual tests. Also, anyone declaring a disability has the opportunity to have appropriate reasonable adjustments made.

A look at our current trainee profile shows how effective this approach has been at bringing the Lancaster demographic more in line with that of the population. Both our application demographic and acceptance demographic has changed with greater diversity and range of backgrounds. It's not perfect and we continue to evolve the process each year but it's the approach we feel has the best evidence and broadest delivery of equality and social justice.

clinpsymember
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by clinpsymember » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:08 am

Hi RJ Parker,

thank you for your reply. I am sure I am just obsessing about the details of the test now, and you might not be able to answer this sorry - but I was wondering, does the test calculate your percentile dependent on the amount of questions you answered correctly, or on the difficulty level you reached (which may mean you got more wrong towards the end)? And does that mean that it is unwise to skip or guess a question? I am particularly worried that I am doing the numerical reasoning too slowly, and I am wondering whether it is worth getting more questions correct to get to a higher difficulty level, but possibly run out of time, or to try and do as many as possible? Sorry if these questions are too specific for you to answer, I understand that we need to work some of these things out ourselves too.

Thanks so much!

RJParker
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by RJParker » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:35 am

My understanding is that both factors are used.

SamH
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by SamH » Thu Jan 19, 2017 1:24 pm

lingua_franca wrote:Thanks for the recommendation. It does make me puzzled about another thing, though - I thought the purpose of selection tests was to level the playing field for people with non-traditional educational backgrounds, so I would expect them to be testing raw ability, not be the sort of test you have to beaver up for with special textbooks. Otherwise how is it different from a more conventional exam?
It's not a specialist text book. It doesn't give any actual knowledge or information. Merely challenges you to practice the exams and think critically about what's being asked. It helped me as I was not fully appreciating how specific I needed to be, so I've honed that skill a bit more. It didn't require a huge amount of effort either. It is a skill rather than knowledge, if that makes sense? So I think the exams are more fair than traditional means.

I think also the exams are in place to equal out opportunity (or lack there of) for Assistant Psychologist work as well as educational set backs.

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Spatch
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by Spatch » Mon Jan 23, 2017 10:46 am

It's not a specialist text book. It doesn't give any actual knowledge or information. Merely challenges you to practice the exams and think critically about what's being asked. It helped me as I was not fully appreciating how specific I needed to be, so I've honed that skill a bit more. It didn't require a huge amount of effort either. It is a skill rather than knowledge, if that makes sense? So I think the exams are more fair than traditional means.
That's my experience of such tests too. They are more focussed on critical, systematic and flexible thinking, rather than what they may have memorised or been taught in a syllabus. They are really broad and generic "meta" skills that can be used in a variety of contexts, which is why a range of organisations use SHL, not just psychology. While it is possible to "learn" about this through books it also can grow organically, but what it does need is a constant development and working on.
I took the SHL verbal practice test the other day and scored in the 63rd centile, so I'd miss the cutoff easily. I find that I consistently perform poorly on such tests and have done since childhood. I do have specific learning difficulties, yet on the WISC my scores were consistently high across verbal subtests (I just dug out my assessment report and it says top 0.3% of age-related peers). Before I went to university I had another educational psychology assessment and my WAIS scores followed the same pattern - strong verbal skills, poor non-verbal abilities. So I'm intrigued by my poor performance on a test of verbal reasoning when other measures suggest that this should be an area of strength.
One possiblity is that the norms are different in each of the settings you discuss. With a test like the WISC or WAIS you are comparing an individual against the entire population, whereas with something like and SHL test you are mainly comparing yourself against graduates and people working in specific industries that value cognitive competencies. It is entirely possible for someone to be in 99th percentile on one test, but to be in the 60th percentile in another more specialised one if the pool is different.

That goes before the issues around anxiety and stress that are also known to affect performance. Many may approach cognitive tests in a more relaxed and calmer manner if they are not informed of the implications or if the test administrator is highly skilled at putting people at ease. Conversely performance may decline with increased anxiety or pressure to do well, which is what we see a lot of in clinical applications/screening tests etc, with some seeing this as an additional bonus of assessing how well individuals cope under pressure. (I don't agree with the latter, but that's another story).
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reishi
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by reishi » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:07 pm

While we are talking about verbal&numeric tests, I'd like to share an email I received the other day. I wasn't informed on the outcome of my application, be it rejection or invitation to the test, so I reached the admin. They told me that only applicants who have applied to the funded programme are required to complete the literacy and numeracy test as it is a condition of employment, not the programme. Well, I'm a a self-funded international student, so that's understandable. But unless I got it wrong, these tests are only in action because NHS trusts want them, not the programmes, well at least not this particular programme.
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RJParker
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by RJParker » Tue Jan 24, 2017 9:51 am

I don't know which programme that is but I'm not aware of that situation at any of the programmes we work with in providing tests.

alisonbab
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by alisonbab » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:50 am

*edited* Please disregard this post, UEA has changed its shortlisting from last year so I actually can't comment on it.

clinpsymember
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by clinpsymember » Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:31 pm

RJ Parker, please could I ask another question? Is it correct that if the internet drops out during the test, I will be able to log back in where I started? My home internet can sometimes drop out, and I am worried that I would have to start from scratch or would not be able to complete the test

Thank you!

RJParker
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Re: Verbal and numerical reasoning tests

Post by RJParker » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:30 pm

clinpsymember wrote:RJ Parker, please could I ask another question? Is it correct that if the internet drops out during the test, I will be able to log back in where I started? My home internet can sometimes drop out, and I am worried that I would have to start from scratch or would not be able to complete the test

Thank you!
If you are aware that you might have difficulties with your internet connection at that location, I'd suggest you don't use it for doing the tests. The system will try to get you back to where you were but you may lose time as a result. It would seem unwise when you already know it to be a potential issue.

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