The Criteria Cognitive Ability Test (CCAT) is one of the toughest pre-employment tests in the world.

You have only 15 minutes to answer 50 questions covering math, verbal, logic, and spatial reasoning, and you must reach a pre-determined passing score to be considered for the job.

Although your job offer is at stake, the internet is packed with generic prep tips, such as “get a good night’s sleep before the exam” or “manage your time effectively.”

But to ace the CCAT, you’ll need more than that.

So on this page, you’ll learn how to prepare for the CCAT test with proven tactics, so that you increase your chances of scoring high and get closer to a job offer:

Find Out What CCAT Score You Should Be Aiming for

This is probably the most important thing to know before you start preparing for the CCAT:

You don’t need to answer all 50 questions to pass the test.

(in fact, less than 1% of test-takers actually manage to do so)

Instead, you should only aim to reach the passing score for your specific position.

The CCAT passing scores vary depending on the job you’re applying for. Here’s a list of suggested CCAT score ranges compiled by Criteria Corp., the company that administers the CCAT:

JobCCAT Passing ScoreJobCCAT Passing Score
Accounting/Finance24-39Loan Officer24-38
Administrative20-39Network Admin23-37
Analyst26-42Operations Manager22-40
Bookkeeper20-35Product Manager26-41
Computer Programmer23-40Production Manager18-34
Controller24-39Project Manager22-37
Customer Service18-32Recruiter21-35
Finance Manager21-40Sales (Manager)23-37
Financial Analyst23-38Sales (Rep)21-35
Front Desk18-30Senior Manager/VP29-42
Lawyer29-42Store Manager20-37
Source


Can’t find your position on the table above? 

Here’s another way of finding out what CCAT score you should be aiming for:

Take the time to read up on any other job listings that are similar but have a lower passing rate (e.g., 30 out of 50). That will give you an idea of how much work needs to be to get the desired score.

Important sidenote: There are highly popular companies that use the CCAT, such as Vista Equity Partners, in which the passing scores are higher than what appears in the table above. If you’re applying for Vista Equity or one of its subsidiaries, make sure you read this guide to see what score to aim for.

With this in hand, you can move on to the next prep tactic.

Know the Topics You’ll Be Tested on Inside Out

The CCAT test is notoriously difficult, so it’s important that you understand what you’re up against. This will ensure that you won’t be caught off guard by a subject that you’ve never seen before.

Here are the areas you can expect to be tested on (click on the category’s name to see how these questions look like and how to solve them):

MathVerbal ReasoningSpatial ReasoningLogic & Other
Direct CalculationsWord AnalogyShape SequenceAttention to Detail
Math Word ProblemsSentence CompletionOdd One OutSyllogisms
Number/Letter SeriesAntonymsMatrix Completion
Table/Chart Problems

Don’t be tempted to answer only general practice questions from these topics. The CCAT includes specific question types for each area, so you shouldn’t waste time practicing questions that won’t appear on the real test.

Instead, use the methods we outline here below.

Try CCAT Sample Questions and Free Practice Tests

Trying free practice resources is a quick and effective method to start to get a feel for the assessment.

There are two ways to get free practice for the exam:

CCAT Sample Questions

Solving CCAT sample questions is a great way to check your knowledge of the general topics covered in this exam. These questions don’t simulate a full-length test, but they do give you a taste of the actual questions. Also, most of them are coupled with answer explanations, enabling you to learn from your mistakes.

Try solving the CCAT sample questions on these pages (all include full solutions):

CCAT math questions
CCAT verbal reasoning questions
CCAT spatial reasoning questions
The hardest CCAT question types
More CCAT practice questions on this test prep site

CCAT Sample Tests

Free CCAT practice tests are designed as a sample of the actual exam. They usually provide detailed explanations for each question and simulate the time allotment, so you can get an idea of how to pace yourself on test day.

One of the best resources for free CCAT practice tests is JobTestPrep, where you can find a 20-question free CCAT sample test covering numerical, verbal, abstract, and logical questions.

Start preparing for the CCAT with this free CCAT sample test.

Identify Your Weaker Areas and Practice Them Hard

Once you start practicing and solving CCAT practice questions, you might find that you struggle with certain question types more than others. 

When you’re reviewing your practice sessions, identify the question types that give you trouble and focus on them for extra practice. For example, if you find yourself struggling with verbal analogies or sentence completions, then go back to those questions and do more of them in future sessions.

And if you have only limited prep time, use it mostly for practicing your weak areas hard. Because these are the areas that will give you the extra points you need to reach the passing score.

Identifying your weaknesses shouldn’t be hard.

Several test prep companies, like JobTestPrep that we mentioned above, offer initial diagnostic tests that evaluate your current knowledge level and what your weaker topics are.

Then, they provide you with a tailored prep plan and drills that target those specific topics to give you the boost you need.

Learn Shortcut Techniques to Save Crucial Seconds

There are certain techniques that can help you answer CCAT questions way faster.

For example, you can use the process of elimination to rule out answer choices that don’t seem plausible and make your life a lot easier.

Check out the following CCAT math sample question to see how you can use the elimination technique to solve it faster:

The combined ages of a dog and its owner are 96 years in total. The owner is 3 times older than his dog.

How old is the owner?

A. 24
B. 34
C. 58
D. 72
E. 81

The correct answer is (D) – 72.

The question can be solved by trying the answers instead of writing a formula.

Because the owner is 3 times older than his dog, and their sum of ages is a whole number, the owner’s age must be divided by 3 without a remainder. So, answers B and C (34 and 58) can be eliminated immediately.

If answer A is correct, the owner is 24 years old, and the dog would be 24/3 = 8 years old. Together they would be 24+8 = 32 years old. Seeing that this number is much too small would be wise to move to a much bigger number.

If answer D is correct, the owner is 72 years old, and the dog would be 72/3 = 24 years old. Together they would be 72+24 = 96 years old.

Another useful technique is using guess-and-check: if there’s only one possible solution left in a question after eliminating all other options, then pick it without any hesitation!

This is because the CCAT test usually has only one correct answer out of four or five possible answers.

This shortcut technique is based on the fact that you won’t be penalized for guessing, so it may as well be worth a shot!

Doing this doesn’t mean you’ll always get the right answer. But if there’s only one possible option left, then don’t waste minutes trying to find an alternative solution when all other options are already eliminated.

Finally, a classic shortcut technique that can save you lots of time is using mental math to do calculations without a calculator (which is not permitted anyways). If you’re good at doing calculations in your head, use this skill to save time on difficult problems.

Get Used to Working Under Time Pressure

In addition to learning all of the shortcuts, you should also practice full-length CCAT simulations. That’s because they give you an idea of what it will be like when you take the actual exam and how much time each section takes. This way, there are no surprises.

And besides improving your performance under pressure, most of these practice tests will include explanations for every question so you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and get valuable tips.

From our experience, JobTestPrep’s CCAT practice materials are the most helpful ones.

It includes the largest number of online CCAT practice questions that resemble the real ones.

Also, it’s given at an affordable price and a money-back guarantee in case the real exam differs from the practice tests (the practice tests are actually spot-on).

Get realistic practice simulations to help you pass the CCAT test.

Avoid Generic or Irrelevant Practice at All Costs

Many CCAT practice tests are available for free online. Some of these can be generic and not representative of what you’ll see on the actual CCAT exam. Others might contain old questions that have since been removed from the new test.

For example, several sites offer preparation for the CCAT alongside other cognitive ability tests, such as the Wonderlic test or the PI Cognitive Assessment.

The problem is that other cognitive ability tests differ in their question types and testing experience, so practicing them will waste your time and effort and may even lead to failure.

So, whatever you do, use only practice resources that are tailored to the CCAT test and no other assessment test whatsoever.

Conclusion

The right practice can make all the difference when you’re preparing for a challenging exam like the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test.

In this post, we’ve compiled the best methods and tactics to successfully prepare for the CCAT and increase your chances of scoring high.

Follow these tips and tricks, and you’ll be on your way to passing with flying colors!