How to join

Aptitude testing

Attending Assessment Day

After submitting your application, your Candidate Engagement Facilitator (CEF) will invite you to attend an Assessment Day, or A-Day.  Joining the NZ Defence Force is a competitive process, so it is important you adequately prepare for your Assessment Day to help you be successful.

Your Assessment Day will be held at your nearest recruiting office, and will include aptitude testing. The purpose of the aptitude tests is to find out which NZDF roles might suit you, your aptitude and your interests. Aptitude tests provide us with some specific information about how you might perform in a particular job. This helps us advise you what trades best match your skillset.

Fitness standards

Your Assessment Day will also include fitness testing. The good news is our fitness levels are easily achievable with a little effort, and we'll help you every step of the way.

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Preparing for A-Day

Most people are naturally nervous about sitting tests, so take some time to explore the information below to help you prepare and know what to expect on the day.

The aptitude tests will be a series of six paper tests. There are two extra tests delivered for those applicants who are applying for air crew roles.

Here are some practice aptitude tests to help you prepare. 

Abstract Reasoning - assesses your ability to work through patterns quickly and accurately.

Basic Maths - assesses your ability to work with decimals, fractions and mathematical formulae.

Verbal Reasoning - assesses your ability to use and interpret written information. In this test you will be asked to match words of the same meaning.

Advanced Maths - a second maths test set at a higher level to assess aptitude for some roles that require a better knowledge of mathematics.

Mechanical Reasoning - assesses your ability to work through mechanical processes.

General Intelligence - gauges your educational and training potential.

Aviation Reasoning - two additional tests for RNZAF Air Crew applicants:

  • Flight Mathematics - assesses your ability to work out speed, distance, flight time and fuel consumption calculations.
  • Aircraft Instrumentation Comprehension - assesses your ability to work out how the aircraft is orientated or travels through the air.

Practice Test Answers

Tips for aptitude testing

Test format


On the day


The aptitude tests will take up to 2 ½ hours to complete. Tests are strictly timed so that everyone taking the test has the same opportunity to complete them. If you get stuck on any one question, don’t spend too much time on it. Move on and try to answer as many as you can within the time allowed. Don’t worry if you can not finish all of the questions, as very few people do. You will not lose marks for a wrong answer. Marks are given for correct answers, so ensure that your written answers are legible for the best opportunity to gain maximum marks.

All of these tests are timed and you cannot use calculators/phones etc to assist you. The questions in the test get harder as they progress. Some of the tests are multi-choice, so be prepared for that eventuality. Two of the biggest mistakes that are made during aptitude testing is lingering too long on questions that you don’t know and running out of time before answering all the questions that you DO know.

There are two sound methods for attempting the tests you will be given;

1.  Start by working through the test systematically. Each question you encounter will be in one of three categories;

  • You know the answer;
  • You don’t know the answer, but may be able to work it out, and
  • You don’t know the answer.

Tackle the test by first working through the problems answering every question that you know immediately.

As you come to a question you don’t know but may be able to work out, place an asterix next to the number on the answer sheet and continue answering the questions you know. If you encounter a question that you outright do not know, leave it, continuing to answer the ones you do know.

Once you have answered all the ones you do know, return to the answer sheet questions you have asterixed and begin working these out. If you finish these and still have time, begin attempting the ones you plainly do not know.

2.  A particular type of test you will encounter are multi-choice tests, where you must select the correct answer from 4 choices (a,b,c and d). Studying for a multiple-choice test requires preparation distinctly different from an essay exam. Multiple-choice tests ask to recognize a correct answer among a set of options that include 3 wrong answers, rather than asking to produce a correct answer entirely from your own mind.

Some people may struggle with multiple-choice tests and do not know how to do well on them. To do the best that you can on a multiple-choice test, start by analysing the questions. Then, answer the questions effectively by working through them strategically. Multiple-choice tests are random, without any patterns of right or wrong answers.

Analysing the questions

Follow the instructions for the test. New Zealand Defence Force tests will ask you to write directly onto the answer sheet. If you write your answers in the question booklet, you will score no marks.

Read the question carefully. Start by reading the test question slowly and carefully. When you are taking a test, use a blank sheet of paper to cover the possible multi-choice answers below the question. This will allow you to focus on just one question. You can also read the question more than once to ensure you understand it. Take your time and do not rush through the question. If you misread the question, you may not come up with the right answer.

Come up with your own answer to the question. Before you dive into the possible answers provided for the question, see if you can answer it on your own. Think about the question and come up with your own answer. Doing this can help you think of an answer before you look at the multiple-choice options. Chances are, the answer you come up with is one of the options for the question. If you can’t come up with your own answer, don’t fret. You can use the answers provided to come up with the right answer for the question, by ruling out the ones that are clearly false. If you are surprised by the answers given, you would want to double check that you have read the question correctly.

  • Practice mental arithmetic. Don’t use a calculator as you will not have access to one during the test. Revise mathematical equations that you have previously learnt.
  • Read articles in magazines and newspapers, then recall your understanding of what you have read.
  • You should have a go at the practice test questions before attending an Assessment Day. The purpose of the practice aptitude tests is to familiarise yourself with the NZDF’s style of testing, particularly if you have not used this type of testing before. The questions are meant to familiarise you with the types of questions you will encounter during the test.  Go through the tests, answering the questions you know straight away. Come back to the ones that you are unsure of.
  • The sample test answers are provided as well, so you can mark your own work. Don’t be too concerned if you do not attain really high scores on your practice tests, as people rarely get top marks.  However if you were to get a score of less than 10 for any of the first four tests, you might want to do a bit of brushing up on that particular subject, or contact your Candidate Engagement Facilitator for advice.
  • As there are no calculators / phones allowed to assist you during the tests. Although some of the questions are straightforward, you may need to get back up to speed on doing mental arithmetic. If you find that you are only getting through about half of the math tests before the time runs out, you can try to speed up your thinking by practicing mental arithmetic in your head. Just Google ‘learn mental maths’ and there are various websites that can help you to speed up your mental calculations. By speeding up your thinking, you will be able to attempt more questions. You can easily practice mental maths exercises within a couple of days.
  • By placing yourself under the same testing conditions, you will have a good idea of what will happen on Assessment Day. You can see how many questions you answered right and how long you need to take, to either answer the question, or move on to the next one. The sample test answers are also provided. Try not to look at them until after you have tried the test. The tests are strictly timed, so try to mirror the same conditions when you practice with the sample tests. 
  • Some mobile phones have a clock App, with a timer function. You can set up the time you need to complete the test and then press ‘start’ when you are ready.
  • Have a good night's sleep before attending the test session.
  • Know where you are expected to turn up to and know how to get there. Check car parking options. If you can, turn up 5-10 minutes early. If you are running late for what ever reason, contact your Candidate Engagement Facilitator and let them know how late you will be.
  • Eat a light meal, heavy meals can make you feel sleepy and dull your senses.
  • Refrain from drinking excessive amounts of fluids prior to sitting the test.
  • Bring a watch to help allocate your time.
  • Be confident in yourself and remain calm.
  • Remember that on your testing day…relax. You know what you know. All your knowledge and the preparation you have  done prior is inside you…don’t worry about what you don’t know. The better prepared you are for these tests, the more NZDF roles will be available to you.

On arrival at the recruiting venue, you will be required to present your photo identification. Be aware, you cannot be tested if you have no ID physically on you. If you don’t have any form of photo ID at all, get in touch with your Candidate Engagement Facilitator to discuss your options.

You will need to bring with you, original copies of the following documents:

  • Your Birth Certificate;
  • Your Passport (if you have one);
  • Citizenship or proof of Permanent Residency (if held);
  • Driver’s license (if you have one);
  • Record of Achievement such as NCEA qualifications or tertiary / educational qualifications. A breakdown of credits received is required rather than the certificate to show you have passed;
  • The NZDF Biography form; and
  • If you are applying for an officer role, a resume / curriculum vitae is also required.

These will be checked and then handed straight back to you. If you don’t bring these documents, it will slow down the processing of your application. Aim to have them all available for Assessment Day.


Your recuiter will give you instructions on how to complete each of the tests. Instructions are also printed on the test booklet. In most tests, you will have the chance to practice some example questions, to make sure that you understand what you have to do. You will not have to opportunity to use a calculator or dictionary during the tests. There will be space available (and a spare piece of blank paper if you need it) on the test paper to do any rough work for working out the answers. You will have to hand in your rough working, but it will not be taken into account when your answers are marked.


Some of the tests have a test booklet and a corresponding answer sheet. If you place your answers in the booklet, you will receive no marks. Place all of your working and answers on the answer sheet. You will not lose marks for providing a wrong answer.


Ensure that your written answers are legible. You won’t get marks if the assessor cannot read your answers. If your writing looks like a scribble, try printing your answers.


Don’t spend too much time getting fixated on any one question, unless you get to a point where you are finding the questions really hard. Try to answer as many as you can within the time allowed.


If you think that you are ready to attend an Assessment Day, get in touch with your Candidate Engagement Facilitator, who will book you into an upcoming test session at a time that suits you.

There is a limit to the number of times you can attempt the aptitude testing. If you fail one or more aptitude tests on your testing day, you will have to wait 6 months before sitting the test again (or you will be given the opportunity to progress with trade choices, you do meet the aptitude criteria for).

This stand-down period allows you time to personally upskill on the areas that you are weak at. After 6 months, you will then be invited to re-sit  only those test/s you have previously failed. You don’t have to resit the test until you are ready. If you are focusing on academic study to upskill your knowledge, talk to your Candidate Engagement Facilitator to see what is best for you.

This second attempt is your final opportunity to pass the test/s.If you do not pass, we will be unable to proceed with your application for some roles (however you will be given the option to consider other trade choices you do have the aptitude for). Do not be in a rush to be re-tested. Take the time to upskill yourself in the areas that you are weak in.

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