Just completed the online assessment for roles in tax within both companies.
I found the material on the forums really helpful in preparing myself to tackle these things, I may be wrong but it seems the posts on these areas are a little out of date so thought I would give my thoughts for the testing as it is now.
I should start by saying that I managed to get through all the tests successfully (thank god) so there is hope.
The first thing to reiterate is that preparation is the key, however do not be fooled by the tests on offer by websites such as assessment day. In my opinion the level of difficulty in these practice tests is much lower than you will find in either Deloitte or KPMG.
I purchased a full set of tests from ‘assessment day’ a year or so back and having been invited to do the real thing i prepared furiously, completing around 8 or 9 practice runs for both Numerical and Verbal. I clearly improved with practice and found myself being able to complete all the questions with time to spare with an accuracy of around 80% and perhaps closer to 90% in Verbal.
I have to say that such accuracy will be damn near impossible for the real thing. The type of maths required still relies on the same principles, however the difference is in the complexity of the information presented to you which required a great deal more thought to manipulate in order to get the answers. Therefore in this area my advice is to seek out the most complex examples that you can find. E-finance offer 3 tests which give a much better feel for how the information will be presented to you. This was particularly true with regard the KPMG tests where the exchange rate questions on the e-finance practice were almost identical to the real thing.
My personal problem with the real tests was in trying to avoid becoming despondent when I realised that time was rapidly running out and I was nowhere near completion (my ability to complete the practice exams with time to spare gave me completely the wrong impression). However the key really is to not panic (as I very nearly did) and just work at the best pace you can whilst ensuring the answers you get are accurate. Don’t be afraid to miss questions where you simply cannot see where the answer is coming from, this time is much better spent moving on to questions where you can see more clearly where the answer is coming from.
It would appear that the SHL tests used by Deloitte have changed in that once you have skipped an answer there is no possibility to go back to it. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case (KPMG you can jump around whichever questions you want). Its possible they are testing how you manage a finite amount of time under pressure, however this seems a little unnecessary. There is a balancing act required between spending too little and spending too much time on individual questions, especially when you can’t go backwards.
Practice will help with this, work out your answer, pick a response and stick with it. I find that allowing yourself to get drawn into an argument in your head about whether your response is the one the examiner is looking for is completely counterproductive. Very rarely will you come up with a better answer by thinking about it for another minute, particularly when your mind is being affected by the ticking clock in the corner. This is particularly true with Verbal exams, the first answer is in my opinion always going to be the best. Then don’t dwell on the answer while looking at subsequent questions. For one thing if you’re taking Deloitte testing you can’t change it anyway.
As regards the difficulty level I can only give my personal viewpoint and this will of course differ as to your particular skills.
With KPMG the rule that has been stated on these forums time and again still applies, they are the most difficult! However this carries with it the advantage that the marks required will most likely be lower. The information you are provided is that approximately 70% of people pass the test, therefore it follows that to get through you need to beat 30% of the field.
In practice I had traditionally found that my marks were much higher for Verbal than Numerical however my results for KPMG suggest the reverse. I got 72% for numerical and 50% for Verbal (these are percentiles btw). Whether I had a bad day I don’t know but my reflections directly after completion was that I had aced the Verbal and screwed up the Numerical. So I guess this just proves the old adage that you never truly know how well you’ve done. With numerical I think I answered approximately 15 questions (out of 24) before I got stuck and guessed a couple prior to the timeout. However, knowing that completion wasn’t my goal helped me to ensure some level of accuracy on the questions I could work out. Not sure about negative marking but I’m guessing it won’t be applied. It might be better not to guess bearing in mind you have 6 choices therefore your chances of getting one right by luck are fairly slim. However, you may disagree. The verbal one has 40 questions as opposed to the normal 30 which adds to the pressure. As I said I thought I had done extremely well and completed all 40 with massive amounts of concentration, but it perhaps appears that I would have been better advised to go for accuracy rather than quantity once again. In any case the texts in Verbal are similar in nature to those in nearly all practice tests on offer so this is good for preparation.
For Deloitte, I received no actual results for the tests, all I know is that I passed. The numerical test was slightly easier than KPMG but still harder than the majority of practices. I think I answered around 14 questions out of 19 while giving educated guesses to the remainder. With these there are only 4 choices therefore guessing some might not be such a bad option. Also, I felt that I was lulled into a false sense of security by the allowance of 25 minutes as opposed to the 20 I was used to in practice. Do not be fooled, it goes quickly so work as fast as you can. I’m sure dawdling cost me a question or two in the first 5 or so minutes. SHL offers only one sample test so I would advise you not to waste it as I did and attempt it late on in your preparation under proper timed conditions.
The verbal test was to my mind harder in nature than KPMG and this was down to the texts I received. It may well be that I got unlucky with the questions, however I found them to be much more complex and difficult to digest. The subject matter has a lot to do with this, for example I got one extremely difficult scientific text which I struggled to comprehend. The same advice still applies though, if you get confused don’t dwell as you will very rarely improve and you waste time better spent on later texts which will be much easier to digest.
Hope this helps, sorry it’s so long but having used the forums wanted to give something back that might help others. Good luck.