A cognitive test, or a cognitive ability test, estimates a person's thinking abilities that are required to carry out the job he or she is applying for. These include: memory, reasoning, verbal and mathematical skills, perception and the ability to solve problems.
There are cognitive tests designed for assessing general as well as specific mental abilities. The tests can include multiple choice questions, tasks of completing sentences, short answers and true or false questions. Tests can be taken with pen and paper or on a computer. Individuals or large groups of applicants can take the same cognitive test. The score system for the test is objective and reliable. Cognitive tests predict success in a job more accurately if the tasks involved in it are highly specific.
Some companies design their own cognitive tests; others purchase ready-made tests from commercial organizations. The benefit of the former approach is that the company may put together a test particularly relevant to its area of business. The feature of the test that reflects its relevance for a particular job is called face validity. However, there are costs associated with designing a cognitive test. Therefore, many companies opt for outsourcing test design, particularly in cases when the job the test is meant for is generic, and therefore the test can be of low face validity.