What are ACER assessments?
ACER (The Australian Council for Education Research) is an assessment provider regularly used to support financial companies' recruitment processes. They also provide reporting tools and services to schools, universities, training organisations and employers in other sectors.
It started with just 5 staff members and has now grown to over 430 who work on projects across Oceania, Asia, and Europe. The ACER UK team works with bodies such as universities, international aid agencies, and the Scottish Government to develop assessments, research teaching methods, and create educational policies.
ACER is now a leading provider of psychometric tests and offers a wide range of research-based assessments to meet the needs of companies.
What are the different ACER test suites?
The ACER Core Skills Profile for Adults (CSPA)
The Core Skills Profile for Adults is widely used in Australia and consists of five types of tests that are designed to test literacy and numeracy skills against the Australian standards for language, literacy, and numeracy. The tests are adaptive, meaning that they gauge your ability level and test you accordingly - the first ten questions are used to determine the level of your test, while the rest determine your score.
The reading tasks require you to read through long pieces of texts and answer questions about the information given in those texts. Typically the test is presented on a split screen format so you are able to scroll through the texts while still looking at the relevant questions.
This tests your basic arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and statistics and probability. The questions are framed in the context of authentic situations such as regarding the workplace, education, or personal life.
The writing exam currently consists of two pieces:
- Writing a letter to a neighbour about an issue.
- Writing a letter to the council about the same issue.
The CSPA asks you to write about the same issue in two different formats because it gives a more rounded view of someone's writing level. They are looking at a number of aspects that include spelling, grammar, sentence structure, cohesion, and ability to engage with different purposes and audiences.
Abstract reasoning test
An abstract reasoning testis used to assess your non-verbal reasoning skills, or how well you identify patterns and follow logic. You will be presented with a sequence of patterns or shapes and asked to choose the correct answer that either continues the sequence, or one that contains an error.
Mechanical reasoning test
A mechanical reasoning test assesses your knowledge of mechanical concepts such as motion, levers, and cause and effect, and your ability to apply those concepts to problems. It is used as a screening tool for recruits into technical and trade jobs, which are more mechanically-oriented.
The ACER MRT is 20 minutes long and consists of 42 questions. It is not technically very difficult as it is not measuring prior knowledge of mechanical concepts, but instead your aptitude at working with them, specifically spatial visualisation and understanding relationships between components.
The ACER Vocational Selection Test
ACER verbal reasoning,
Verbal reasoning differs slightly from reading comprehension. There are three types of verbal reasoning questions on the VST:
- Logic tests where you are given a list of statements and asked to choose which ones prove or disprove the logic.
- Vocabulary tests where you have to choose the word that is the odd-one-out in a list.
- Word association tests that will ask you to identify connections between words and make similar associations.
ACER abstract reasoning
These are similar to the CSPA abstract reasoning and ask you to answer the same kinds of questions. They assess how well you make connections between sequences of shapes and patterns, and if you are able to identify errors or extrapolate the logic to choose the image that would come next in the sequence.
ACER quantitative reasoning,
A quantitative reasoning test is another name for numerical reasoning as it assesses your ability to work with quantitative or measurable data, which is most commonly given as numerical information. You will be asked to perform basic numeracy and mathematical skills such as addition, multiplication, and fractions.
There are two options components that can be taken:
A multiple choice test that assesses your ability to understand mechanical devices and systems, and how they interact with each other.
A personality test that focuses on behaviours and motivations. This often takes the form of a situational judgement test, which asks you to rank responses to hypothetical scenarios based on how similarly you would behave.
Which Financial Employers use ACER tests?
The ACER tests are most popular in Australia, but are growing in their use across the globe. The Financial Advisor Exam (FASEA) and the Graduate Medical Schools Admission Test (GAMSAT) are two big assessors who use ACER as their test provider.
The CSPA gauges skill levels and competencies potential, which is helpful in tracking career development, and can be used to measure applicants against current employee skill levels. While the ACER VST is used for recruitment purposes, particularly for graduates, apprentices, and trainees. Companies often use it to screen large pools of applicants.
Top 5 tips for preparing and passing ACER tests
1. Identify weaknesses. Start by determining which component seems the most daunting or is a subject area that you usually struggle to perform well in. This will help to focus your preparation in order to improve your score the most.
2. Take online practice tests in test conditions. Getting used to answering the questions under time pressure is one of the most difficult aspects of any examination. Therefore, when it comes to practicing for your ACER test, you should try to do as much as possible under the same conditions the actual test will have.
3. Know your tests. An obvious, but important one, is to make sure that you know exactly which tests you are taking and what is expected of you. This will help you prepare adequately and feel less stressed on the day. The types of preparation materials you use is critical; use practice material like Fintest's to get a competitive advantage.
4. Read around. Our aptitude test advice and tips blog has all the information you could need on aptitude tests, what to expect, sample questions and how to get good scores. Getting advice from the experts can help you prepare more efficiently and do better on your tests.
5. Stay healthy. When it comes to test taking, one of the most underrated pieces of advice is to remember to take care of yourself and stay in good physical and mental health. On the day of your test, try to be well rested, have a good meal beforehand, and stay hydrated.
How long is the ACER test?
This will vary depending on which tests you are taking. However the typical test length is around 20 minutes. Both the CSPA and VST contain three main components, which are all taken in the same sitting, so the test is around an hour long if no additional components are being taken.
What do I need to complete the ACER test?
Most tests are now given electronically, so you will either need your own computer to take the test at home or will attend a test day given at the company where they will provide one. You should check with your test provider, but people are often encouraged to bring a pen and paper for notes. You cannot use a calculator on the numerical tests, but if you need further support then that can be discussed beforehand.
How is the ACER test scored?
ACER tests are typically used to compare results or track progress, therefore they are marked and then converted to be placed on a scale. Your test will be marked against a criteria, then the points are used to create a ranking, which shows how you performed against other candidates.
Is the ACER test hard?
The ACER is designed to be challenging in order to accurately assess your potential capabilities when it comes to a number of skills and basic education level. However, the CSPA is adaptive meaning that it adjusts depending on your answers meaning that it will be suitably demanding and you should not find it too difficult to complete.