Mechanical aptitude exams are designed to measure how well you work with spatial reasoning, and troubleshooting. Spatial reasoning, more commonly called “the mind's eye”, involves the ability for you to look at a diagram or picture, and make complex calculations based on that figure. For instance, the most common spatial reasoning diagram consists of two gears that are attached together. In this diagram, one gear will turn in a given direction, and you are then asked what direction another gear will turn in. Mechanical tests are different from normal IQ tests in that you are not expected to use a great deal of math or language skills. Instead, most tests will focus on your ability to use your imagination to solve a given problem using only a diagram.
There are several popular mechanical tests in use today, and they are most often used for pre-employment screening by employers. Employers will most likely require these kinds of tests if your career involves troubleshooting faulty machines, or working with a great deal of mechanical problems. Sometimes, the employer will write their own aptitude tests, but this is often the exception to the rule. Let's examine some of the more popular mechanical aptitude tests, and what they involve.
The Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude, or WTMA, is a 30 minute aptitude test which mainly focuses on your ability to solve mechanical problems- nothing else. The questions are worded using simple English, so that even if you only have a basic understanding of English, you can pass the test.
In addition, studies have found that the WTMA test is much less discriminating on whether or not a male or female is taking the test. The reason for this is because the WTMA focuses mainly on core mechanical abilities using simple diagrams.
Sample questions for this test include the classic “which way is this gear turning” questions, as well as more basic questions, such as asking whether a bowling ball or a car, dropped from an equal height, will hit the ground first.
The WTMA also includes an easy to use scoring system, that is not complicated at all. Simply, correct answers are added up, and then calculated to reach a final score. In addition, the WTMA also includes a national average scale, to help employers determine the mechanical aptitude of a prospect employee.
Similar to the WTMA, the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test, or BMCT, is also a 30 minute long test. The main differences between the BMCT and the WTMA, is that the BMCT is not nearly as accurate. Studies have shown that the BMCT can vary by as much as 3-4 points, and this test is considered by some to be obsolete. However, the BMCT is in use today.
The BMCT tests mechanical aptitude as well as spatial reasoning and mechanical knowledge. One of the main drawbacks also to the BMCT is that it requires previous mechanical education, whereas the WTMA does not.
The last common test that we will mention is the Mechanical Aptitude Test or MAT. The MAT test differs from the other mechanical aptitude tests mentioned in that it is only 20 minutes long. The MAT does make an effort to relate to household items instead of complex machines, in order to effectively determine your ability to use spatial reasoning and mechanical knowledge in everyday items. Similar to the WTMA, the MAT also uses common and basic English to prevent any possible language barriers. The accuracy of the MAT is similar to the WTMA, even though the MAT only includes 36 multiple choice questions.
These three mechanical aptitude measures are the most common
in use today by employers. If you are intimidated by the idea of taking
mechanical tests, there is one piece of advice which works- don't be.
You cannot study for mechanical aptitudes, and if properly given you
will always score the same basic score on any mechanical aptitude test. Unlike standardized tests, mechanical aptitude test measures your ability to learn, not what you already know.
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