Mechanical Reasoning Tests

Mechanical Reasoning Tests (MRTs) have become a standard part of the recruitment process. These assessments evaluate a candidate’s understanding of basic mechanical principles, from levers and pulleys to electrical circuits and gears. As competition in related fields intensifies, excelling in these tests requires a strategic approach to preparation. This comprehensive guide offers insights into the structure of MRTs, the concepts they cover, and effective strategies for practice, aiming to equip aspirants with the knowledge to excel.

Understanding Mechanical Reasoning Tests: Mechanical Reasoning Tests are psychometric assessments designed to measure an individual’s aptitude for understanding and applying mechanical concepts and principles. These tests, often utilized in fields such as engineering, emergency services, and the military, involve problem-solving scenarios that mirror real-world situations. They assess competencies in:

  1. Basic Physics: Understanding fundamental principles, including force, energy, and motion.
  2. Mechanical Operations: Knowledge of machinery, tools, and equipment functions.
  3. Spatial Reasoning: Interpreting two-dimensional and three-dimensional spaces and shapes.
  4. Problem-Solving: Applying logic and reasoning to find practical solutions to mechanical problems.

The structure of MRTs typically includes multiple-choice questions, timed to instill real-world pressure, ensuring candidates can apply their knowledge swiftly and accurately.

The Importance of Practice: Like any assessment, the key to performing well in Mechanical Reasoning Tests is practice. Regular practice sessions enhance:

  1. Familiarity: Understanding the test format reduces anxiety, allowing candidates to navigate questions confidently.
  2. Conceptual Clarity: Repeated exposure to varied problems strengthens the grasp of mechanical principles.
  3. Time Management: Practice under timed conditions improves the ability to make quick, accurate decisions.
  4. Weak Point Identification: Regular practice helps identify areas of difficulty, allowing focused improvement.


Each of these topics delves into specific principles and applications. Here’s a brief overview of what each topic generally encompasses, particularly in the context of mechanical aptitude tests:

  1. Force and Moment:
    • This section tests understanding of the basic principles of force and torque (moment). Questions may involve scenarios requiring the calculation of resultant forces, understanding how forces affect objects, or how changes in leverage (using different lengths of levers, for instance) impact the force required to move an object.
  2. Cogwheels, Wheels, Pulleys, and Levers:
    • Candidates are assessed on their understanding of these basic mechanical systems. This could include identifying the correct setup of gears for a desired outcome, understanding the mechanical advantage provided by different pulley systems, or determining the output force or speed of rotating wheel systems.
  3. Fluids:
    • This section involves principles of fluid dynamics, including pressure, buoyancy, and flow. Questions might cover scenarios like calculating pressure at a certain water depth, understanding how objects float or sink, or determining the flow rate through pipes.
  4. Velocity:
    • Questions in this category test the understanding of speed, velocity, and acceleration concepts. This might involve calculating the speed of objects, understanding the effects of forces on an object’s speed, or predicting the movement of objects under certain conditions.
  5. Quantitative:
    • This section assesses basic mathematical skills used in mechanical reasoning. It could involve calculations related to any of the above topics, solving equations, or using statistical data to solve practical problems related to mechanics.
  6. Electricity:
    • Candidates’ understanding of basic electrical concepts is tested here. This could include recognizing electrical symbols, understanding simple circuits, calculating voltage/resistance/current in electrical systems, or identifying the correct wiring setups.
  7. Acoustics & Optics:
    • While less common in basic mechanical tests, this advanced section involves the principles of sound (acoustics) and light (optics). It might cover topics like the speed of sound, reflection and refraction of light, or basic properties of waves.
  8. Thermodynamics:
    • This section delves into heat, temperature, and energy concepts. Questions could involve understanding heat transfer, the relationship between heat and work, efficiency of heat engines, or basic principles of refrigeration and heating systems.
  9. Tools:
    • Here, candidates are assessed on their knowledge of various tools and their uses. This could involve identifying tools, understanding their correct applications, or safety practices associated with them.

What Are Some Common Mechanical Aptitude Tests?

Here are some of the most common mechanical aptitude tests used in various sectors:

  1. Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test (BMCT):
    • The BMCT is one of the most widely used mechanical aptitude tests. It’s utilized globally by various industries, including manufacturing and utilities, to assess applicants’ comprehension of basic mechanical principles and spatial reasoning. The test includes questions on a variety of topics, such as physics, mechanics, and machinery.
  2. Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude (WTMA):
    • The WTMA is designed to assess an individual’s ability to learn how machinery operates and how mechanical maintenance and repair can be performed. It’s often used for job selections in areas like production and maintenance, where technical skills are essential.
  3. Ramsay Mechanical Aptitude Test:
    • The Ramsay Corporation designed this test to assess the ability to learn and perform mechanical tasks. It is often used for positions in factories, plants, and other industrial settings, focusing on practical questions related to real-world scenarios.
  4. Barron’s Test of Mechanical Aptitude:
    • While not a test used by employers, Barron’s Test is popular in educational and practice settings. It covers a wide range of mechanical principles and is often used by individuals preparing for other official mechanical aptitude tests.
  5. Military Mechanical Aptitude Tests:
    • Various branches of the military use mechanical aptitude tests as part of their entrance examinations. For instance, the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) used by the U.S. military includes a section on mechanical comprehension.
  6. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Aptitude Test:
    • Specific to the automobile industry, the FCA Aptitude Test assesses mechanical reasoning and other skills relevant to roles within the automotive sector, from design to production and maintenance.
  7. Institute of Mechanical Engineers Aptitude Test:
    • Some professional bodies, like the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, have their aptitude tests for certifying and grading members. These tests can be comprehensive, covering a range of mechanical engineering principles and applications.
  8. Skilled Craft Battery Test:
    • This test is used to select candidates for skilled positions in sectors like manufacturing, energy, and automotives. It focuses on mechanical knowledge, spatial reasoning, and technical problem-solving skills.
  9. Plant Operator Selection System (POSS):
    • The POSS is used by utility companies to select candidates for plant operator positions, including power plants. It assesses mechanical concepts, operational logic, and problem-solving in a plant environment.
  10. DAT Mechanical Reasoning Test:
    • The Differential Aptitude Tests (DAT) includes a mechanical reasoning assessment that measures the ability to understand and apply mechanical concepts. It’s widely used in career counseling and guidance services.

By understanding the test’s structure, dedicating time to practice using varied resources, and maintaining a balanced approach to learning, candidates can position themselves to excel.