How to Pass Investment Banking Tests (Verbal, Numerical, Logical)


Most people get knocked out at the verbal, numerical and logical reasoning test stage of an application. To meet the high thresholds set by banks, you need to harness practice providers and document each test you go through, thereby using each round as practice for the next one. This documentation becomes increasingly important for banks that use the same providers, which I provide insights for below.

Do not underestimate the importance of preparing for these tests. Graduate First estimates that at least 70% of applicants get rejected from Morgan Stanley solely because of their online test scores. These companies set extremely high thresholds because it is much cheaper and less time-consuming for them to have an algorithm reject an applicant than from a face-to-face interview.

Also, many people cheat which bumps up the threshold required to move onto the next stage. I do not advocate cheating, but what I do recommend is getting extremely familiar with the online tests through reflection and practice. Here are three core tips:

  1. Use practice providers ahead of doing the test. For example, I bought the JobTestPrep 3 months subscription during my own application season ahead of the first round of tests since this seemed to offer the greatest variety of test providers.
  2. Learn which firms use the same provider and treat each respective test that overlaps also as practice for the next identical one you’ll face. I provide a map of the different providers for Aon/Cut-e, Korn Ferry/Talent-Q, Job Simulators and many others below.
  3. Document each test attempt. Use your knowledge of which providers overlap to diligently document and reflect after each test attempt. For example, if RBC and Morgan Stanley both have the same Aon/Cut-e test and you know that Morgan Stanley has a higher threshold needed to pass, then doing the RBC version first will massively boost your chances of success with the Morgan Stanley one.

Below, I map out the different overlapping providers that I documented during my own application season. These combinations may have changed since I did them, so I recommend making your own spreadsheet documenting the overlapping providers.

‘Cut-e/Aon’

  • Morgan Stanley: extremely high threshold needed to pass so you need to be extremely familiar before attempting this test otherwise they will just instantly reject you.
  • RBC: Exactly the same as the Morgan Stanley one.
  • Credit Suisse: Exactly the same as the ones above.
  • Nomura: Same numerical as the others, but for logical, use the practice run that Nomura let you complete to identify which type of logical test you should use for practice. From memory, I remember using the Assessment Day pack that involved the diamond-shaped boxes and letter/number combinations.
  • BNP Paribas: Despite being the same format, I found they used the industrials pack instead of the financial one from Aon/Cut-e.

‘Korn Ferry/TalentQ’

Job Simulators

  • Barclays: the reason I was successful at this was I reflected thoroughly from my first year application and prepared accordingly.
  • HSBC: SJT first, then interactive simulator and includes video questions. Remember to scroll to the bottom of each page on their respective sections since a lot of information is contained and because of a large gap in one of the pages, I missed a crucial section to read in the allocated time.

Anomalies (usually the boutiques)

  • JP Morgan has a gamified assessment (called “Pymetrics”) which also feeds into your Blackstone assessment if you apply to them too. JobTestPrep recently launched a practice package for this assessment.
  • PWP test after 2nd round interview involving GCSE maths paper questions.
  • Torch Partners & Gleacher Shacklock use Freshminds and Freshminds use Mapped Be Applied test.
  • Moelis uses test partnership: see Assessment Day, but the Moelis practice test is also critical and perhaps better preparation. For example, there is a type of 1:n ratio question asked in the practice section that came up at least twice in the real test – unfortunately, I did not consolidate this in the practice well enough and got flustered in the 60 seconds allocated for that question in the real thing.
  • PJT Partners: suited assessment.
  • Rothschild have their own SHL numerical test – relatively easy if you do the standard JobTestPrep SHL questions.
  • EY: Again, they have their own but not too difficult just use the SJT criteria sheet I’m releasing next week as this got me through their assessment.
  • PwC: Not too much you need to prepare for here although remember to not spend too much time on the padlock (you’ll see what I mean when you attempt it). Yes, they are testing persistence, but they are also testing that you’re not inefficient and that you don’t get obsessed about solving something that is impossible.

Three Bonus Hacks

  • OBS is a recording software, often used by lecturers at universities that I think could be a powerful reflection tool for people looking to improve, particularly with video interviews among other components of the application process.
  • If you’re given 3 questions based on the same graph and only 60 seconds per question, but finish early on the first question, you can start guessing what else they’ll ask in the next 2 questions about the same very graph. This becomes particularly relevant for the Korn Ferry/Talent Q test, but you should be so familiar with the test that this should not be necessary.
  • Linked to the point above, begin forming crib sheets (summary sheets) including hacks you accumulate along the process of practising using Assessment Day, Job Test Prep and particularly after the actual tests themselves (remember, some tests are identical to each other). These sheets become particularly useful when you do them for the logical tests e.g. inductive or abstract reasoning where the more combinations you cover, the better position you will be in ahead of the test.

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