The Top Cognitive Ability Tests to Measure Cognitive Abilities of Your Future Employee



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Although the needs of companies can vary across industries, finding a knowledgeable, capable and dependable employee is highly important because not only can they affect the operations of the organization but also its reputation in the long run.

Remember, resumes can be tailored or written in a way that an inexperienced or incompatible candidate will look like the perfect fit for your company. People can spend a lot of time perfecting their interview responses so that they can fool hiring managers sufficiently enough to increase their chances of being hired.

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This is why many companies require their applicants to take a cognitive test such as the Wonderlic test, the Universal Cognitive Aptitude Test (UCAT), or the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT).

Other companies with a specialized area of service, such as law firms, require candidates to take a curated assessment to prove that they have the basic skills needed for a lawyer.

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In this case, they will have to pass the Watson Glaser Test, considered the industry standard by many firms.

So, if you’re thinking about adding a cognitive test in your hiring process, let’s see how each of them can help measure the cognitive abilities of future employees!

The Wonderlic test

Utilized throughout various organizations ranging from professional sports to the military, the Wonderlic test is used to measure, not only a candidate’s cognitive abilities as a whole but also their decision-making skills.

As a pre-employment test, the Wonderlic assessments were designed to give employers the confidence that the candidate can sufficiently understand reading and written materials at the workplace, perform simple to complex calculations on the go so that proper change or pricing is given, solve problems where the solution isn’t immediately apparent, and understand and even create legible reports with simple to complex graphs.

data report
Credit: Lukas | Pexels

It does this by making test-takers go through a curated question set revolving around the verbal, logical, numerical, and graphical reasoning skills, allowing you to know that they have the basic skills to function as an employee.

Their decision-making skills, however, are measured in a unique way.

How? This is because Wonderlic requires applicants to answer its 50-item exam within 12 minutes, and a number of these questions, although they contain points, are so complex that they will waste time trying to answer them.

In essence, this will force them to choose between having to answer them or skip them for easier ones.

Such a thing may seem inconsequential, but for companies with a high minimum score for the Wonderlic exam, one point could mean the difference between entering the interview stage or being skipped over for another applicant.


If you are more focused on determining your would-be employee’s critical thinking, learning ability, and problem-solving skills, then perhaps you should have them take the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test instead of the Wonderlic test.

Designed to serve as the go-to pre-employment assessment for middle-level to upper management positions such as analysts, managers, developers, and sales executives, the better the test-taker’s score in it, the higher their ability to succeed in the role that they are applying for.

The exam, which contains 50 questions to be answered within 15 minutes, also works in a comparative way, meaning that you will be able to know just how each candidate fares compared to the scores of other applicants with its percentile ranking format.

The CCAT contains spatial, numerical, and verbal reasoning subjects.


Developed by the same test developers of the CCAT, the Universal Cognitive Aptitude Test (UCAT) is a language-independent cognitive test that aims to measure a candidate’s aptitude on an international level, meaning the results can be used internationally due to it not containing a verbal reasoning part.

This means the test will focus on spatial and numerical reasoning.

Unlike the CCAT, however, the UCAT contains 40 questions and is to be answered within 20 minutes.

The Watson-Glaser test

Used by many law firms such as Simmons & Simmons, Clifford Chance, and Hiscox, the Watson-Glaser exam is a specially-designed pre-employment test used to confirm that the aspiring applicants have sufficient deductive, critical thinking, and analytical skills needed to succeed.

Compared to the previous exams, the subjects and questions in the Watson-Glaser assessment will focus on deductive and logical reasoning.

Specifically, the test-taker will have to answer 8 questions for the following subjects:

  • Interpretation of information
  • Evaluating Deductions
  • Evaluating Arguments
  • Evaluating Assumptions
  • Assessing Inferences

It should be noted that although law firms and some government agencies that use this exam in the hiring process have varying time limits on the Watson-Glaser test, the universally accepted time limit is 30 minutes.

employment test
Credit: August de Richelieu | Pexels

With this in mind, we can see that each test-taker barely has a minute or less to answer everything and prove that they are worthy of being invited to the next part of the hiring process.

After all, if they can’t show how capable they are at the beginning of the hiring process, how can the firm be confident in them to do a good job if they were given the position they are aiming for?

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