So you've done the Graduate Benchmark: what next?

Wondering what your options are after taking the Graduate Benchmark tests? Whether you’re pleased, disappointed or unsure, here’s where to start planning your next move.

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Congratulations! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve worked your way through our Graduate Benchmark tests. Your results will have given you a pretty good idea of how you perform in standard verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and inductive reasoning tests set by graduate employers. You’ve also had the chance to review your score in different contexts – to compare your score to other students from your university as well as students from across the UK, for example.

If you haven't already done the Graduate Benchmark, do check it out. You can take practice tests before attempting the real thing.

If you have already taken the Graduate Benchmark tests, now you’ve got this far, how do you make best use of what you’ve learned?

Your Graduate Benchmark questions answered

We’ve put together some advice to help you, depending on how you feel about your results and your next steps. Also, if you’re not already using your university’s careers and employability service to support you in your career planning, now’s the time to start.

Here’s where to start exploring your options:

If you’re happy with your scores

That’s great! Give yourself a pat on the back, hold on to that confidence and make sure you use our advice to show yourself in the best possible light in your applications, at assessment centres and at interview.

If you’re happy with your scores but not sure which career would suit you, check out our advice on what to do if you don’t know what to do.

If you want to improve your scores

You can retake the Graduate Benchmark tests after six months, and our advice on psychometric tests includes links to a range of resources that will help you practise. You’ll also find ideas for everyday ways to practise in our advice on specific types of test:

Bear in mind that numerical reasoning tests, verbal reasoning tests and inductive reasoning tests aren’t the be-all and end-all. If they were, all graduate recruiters would use these tests and nothing else, whereas the employers who do use this kind of test tend to make use of other methods as well, such as assessment centres and interviews. Most employers place a high value on soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, and want to see how potential hires interact. In the end, it usually comes down to meeting applicants face to face.

There are plenty of employers (including many small businesses) who don’t use the kind of tests included in the Graduate Benchmark. After all, the graduate jobs market is not limited to the big organisations that take in significant numbers of graduates every year.

If you’re disappointed by your results

If you’re wondering what your Graduate Benchmark results mean for your chances of getting into your chosen graduate career – or any graduate career – take heart, take stock and take time to think about your options.

The Graduate Benchmark shows you how you perform in three standard employer ability tests – numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and inductive reasoning. But it can’t tell you what you want to do and what you’d enjoy.

Any ability test you are set by an employer is a potential gateway to your future career… but it isn’t the key. It’s a threshold you want to be able to pass, and for that reason it can be nerve-racking or frustrating or a triumph. But it doesn’t define you, or what you want, or what you’re really capable of. You’re the only person who can do that, and you’re infinitely better placed than any test to figure it out.

If you choose a career you’re enthusiastic about, your positivity and commitment will come across during the recruitment process. Some employers use an approach known as strengths-based recruitment, which seeks to assess what you enjoy doing on the basis that this is the type of task at which you’re most likely to excel. Other employers use values-based interviewing, which aims to identify whether your values are a good fit for the organisation. In other words, there’s a lot more to recruitment – and a fulfilling career – than scoring highly in numerical, verbal and inductive reasoning tests.

Read on for ideas and inspiration to help you get started on deciding which career would suit you.

If you have no idea what you want to do

If you’re undecided about your future direction, see if any of this inspires you.

If you don’t want to work for a big graduate employer

It’s usually the bigger graduate recruiters (in both the public and private sector) who make use of the kind of tests included in the Graduate Benchmark. If you apply to smaller employers, you’re much less likely to come up against this kind of assessment. Small employers can offer fresh graduates scope to take on early responsibility, try out new things and benefit from the flexibility that comes from being one of a smaller number of employees, perhaps in a business or organisation that is growing and changing.

Alternatively, you might be interested in working for yourself or setting up your own business, in which case our advice on becoming an entrepreneur will help you on your way.

If you want to know what you can do with your degree subject

Use our degree subject career guides as a starting point to explore a range of options open to you with your degree. You’ll also be able to see which careers others studying your subject tend to be interested in, and what they go on to do.

If your results make you question your career plans

Different graduate employers have different requirements for different roles. For example, you might need a very high level of mathematical ability to be a quantitative analyst for a big investment bank, but the numerical reasoning requirements would be different for a management role in the public sector.

Numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and inductive reasoning are useful skills in a broad range of jobs – though the level of skill needed will vary. Engineers need good verbal reasoning skills to enable them to communicate clearly about projects, for example, but they are likely to need even stronger numerical reasoning and inductive reasoning skills.

Your Graduate Benchmark results include some brief pointers on careers that are suited to those with different strengths. There’s plenty of crossover and many roles require a mix of skills, but here’s a broad overview giving some examples of careers in which particular types of ability are in particularly high demand.

Numerical reasoning. High scorers are likely to enjoy roles that focus on numerical data and complex calculations. They are well placed to understand and interpret numerical and financial data accurately.

Employers likely to be particularly interested in candidates with a high level of ability in this area include those recruiting for roles in finance (including accountancy, insurance and investment banking) and management and business.

Verbal reasoning. High scorers are likely to be comfortable working with complex written or spoken information. They’re able to perform very well when required to evaluate written documents and reports and draw conclusions from them.

Employers likely to seek out graduates with high levels of verbal reasoning ability include those recruiting for roles in consulting, law (whether you want to be a barrister or solicitor), the media and marketing.

Inductive reasoning. High scorers are likely to be comfortable solving complex problems and drawing logical conclusions. They have particular strengths when it comes to being able to recognise and apply logical rules and can use abstract thinking to find solutions.

Employers likely to seek out graduates with high levels of inductive reasoning ability include those recruiting for roles in science and research, IT and technology, and engineering.

If you had your heart set on a particular career and your Graduate Benchmark results have made you wonder whether you’re really suited to it, you might want to explore your options further, both within the area you’re interested in and in other, similar careers. Read on to find out more about the range of information we provide about different careers and roles. It’s also a good idea to discuss your results with an adviser from your university’s careers service.

If you want to know more about popular graduate careers

You’ll find stacks of information about graduate careers from accountancy to marketing in our advice on popular graduate careers.

These in-depth guides to different careers cover topics such as:

  • Advice on applications and interviews
  • Professional training and qualifications
  • Information about key employers
  • Starting salaries
  • Getting hired with a 2.2
  • Key specialisms

Browse our hundreds of job descriptions (which you can filter by career sector) to find out more about different roles.

If you just want to leave the country

We’ve got that covered too. Check out our advice on working abroad for information and ideas.

If you’re thinking about further study

There’s been a sharp rise in the number of graduates going on to further study in recent years, particularly in those taking a masters. Use our postgrad study advice to explore your options further and to find out about loans for postgraduate study.

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