What is a clerical aptitude test?

A clerical aptitude test specifically assesses proficiency at tasks related to clerical or administrative work, helping employers to determine which candidates have the skill level necessary for the job.

The most common clerical aptitude tests include assessments of verbal reasoning, basic numeracy, error checking proficiency and situational judgement tests.

Roles in clerical work include secretaries, administrative assistants and positions in data entry and office support. So if you’re applying for these positions, or anything similar, then it’s likely you will have to take a clerical aptitude test.

Who uses clerical aptitude tests and why?

Since clerical jobs are found in every sector – whether it be finance, education, operations or government – clerical aptitude tests are used by a wide range of employers to help streamline the hiring process.

The digital age has made the importance of having highly skilled clerical personnel even more critical. Seemingly small errors, or inefficient admin staff, can have a huge impact on a company as a whole.

Using clerical aptitude tests allows employers to better evaluate that they’re hiring people who have the correct level of skill for the position. Recruiters can get a sense for how well someone might perform on the job by assessing multiple skills in one setting, which more accurately reflects day-to-day working life.

So, if you’re asked to take a clerical aptitude test as part of the hiring process, it is important to do your best – it will be a determining factor in the success of your application.

What work skills and aptitudes do clerical tests measure?

Clerical jobs require high proficiency at a number of skills, and clerical aptitude tests aim to cover that by assessing the following characteristics:

Verbal reasoning

These test your ability to comprehend and process written information. Most tests present you with passages of text and then ask you to filter out key information in order to deduce correct answers, or whether a statement is true, false or uncertain.

Numerical reasoning

Numerical reasoning tests assess your ability to process and analyse data presented in a numerical format, which can include percentages, number sequences, data interpretation and financial analysis.

Accuracy and efficiency

Accuracy and efficiency when working with data is one of the most important clerical skills and is often assessed with error checking tests, also known as clerical checking.

These tests require you to comb through sets of information to find errors and assess the correct data under a time restriction. This helps to show your proficiency at working under pressure while still maintaining a high level of attention to detail.

You may also be asked to take a typing test, which assesses your typing skills by showing your words-per-minute and how many mistakes were made during the test. Employers generally have different standards for this test, but typing is a crucial skill in the modern workplace, so it can never hurt to improve your accuracy and speed.


General organisational skills are critical when working in a clerical and administrative position.

E-tray tests are a popular way to assess this, by simulating the inbox of an employee who has fallen behind on their work – you then have to work through the tasks and manage the workload in the manner you feel to be most efficient. These are also known as document management tests.

Interpersonal skills

Many clerical positions are very social roles – meaning that you will be expected to work with lots of people from different departments and professional levels, and be a strong team player.

As such, some employers use personality tests to determine if you would be a good fit for their team.

You may also be asked to take a situational judgement test, which assesses your people skills and how you naturally react to impromptu difficulties that might arise.