Psychometric tests come in all shapes and sizes, and are often designed with a particular company or placement in mind. Some tests are designed to ensure you have a good enough level of numeric and literate skills, however others that require a more subjective response are designed to gain a deeper understanding of your persona. In these types of questions, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer - if you have the competencies and attributes that the company is looking for then you will proceed through to the next round of selection.
The basic definition is that 'Psycho' - relates to the psychology of how your brain works and 'Metric' - relates to measurement. So it is fair to say a 'psychometric test' measures some aspect of your brain.
Before sitting the test, it is important to determine what kind of psychometric test you will be sitting:
An aptitude test measures your ability to perform specific role-related skills, and also your potential to develop the skills to do this task in the future. This could be through role or sector related problems and look to measure your adaptability to change in the future.
An ability test measures intelligence in some form, usually through the form of numerical, verbal reasoning, problem-solving skills and logical reasoning tests. Ability tests measure general skills and intelligence that you are already likely to possess.
A personality test measures aspects of your behaviour, and usually involves answering a large number of questions about yourself or about the wider world. The answers to these questions are then collated and the trends in your answers can give an insight into your behaviour and personality. Companies often use these to see how you perform under pressure or duress, and can see how you fit their ideal profile of candidate.
There are many different types of test, and in order to maximise the impact of any preparation that you do it is important that you find out the structure of the test - will it be timed? How many questions will there be? etc if this information is available to you.
There are many sites on the web that offer examples of psychometric tests. Psychometric tests are slightly different to IQ tests in that psychometric tests are testing more for competencies and attributes rather than simply for intellectual capacity. For example, a timed test also looks at your ability to work and make decisions under pressure as well as your capacity to answer the questions.
Some tests can be sat at your own convenience or you may be given a time period such as 1 week. Others tests may have to be sat at a certain time and some may require you to go to an external test centre. Test preparation is an important part of succeeding at this stage of application - especially if the time and venue are set for you. The usual exam preparation is required here - a good night's sleep, directions, double checking the time etc...What is a pass?
There is two ways in which companies define whether or not you pass the test - there is a set pass mark which you have to achieve, or there is a set number of applicants that can pass. This will mean little in terms of you undertaking the test, but it will determine when you might find out the result - with the tests that have a pass mark you could find out instantly, and with others you may have to wait until every applicant has completed the test.