In-tray Exercise

To help you pass in-tray psychometric tests, use these preparation assessments, advice, and solutions to help you increase your score.

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Download a free practice in-tray exercise

Here at AssessmentDay, you can download our free practice in-tray exercise to help give you an understanding of how they work and to give you the preparation experience you will need for your in-tray exercise. Taking this free in-tray exercise will give you some valuable insight into how they work.

Print off both the exercise PDF and the answers PDF and give it a go now!

Free In-tray Exercise (PDF)

Download this free example In-tray exercise as a PDF and print it off to work through it in your own time. Click the links below to view them online individually.

What is an In-tray exercise?

In-tray exercises will be completed offline with the documents provided. They will simulate a work place and position relevant scenario. The typical position assumed by the candidate in the in-tray exercise will be a managerial or advisor role. However, it is also usually tailored to the role you are applying for. Candidates will be given information relevant to the exercise via emails, calendars, memos, and more. They will then be asked what the best course of action will be in a certain situation through multiple choice questions.

In-tray exercises are popular with recruiters. Therefore, it makes it essential that you are aware of how in-tray exercises work and what they test.

Given that in-tray exercises are designed around the role, it will therefore assess the key skills which the employer wants testing. This may be delegation skills, or it may be organisational skills. Generally, different employer might be looking for different attributes in their new recruits.

How many In-tray items will there be?

It depends on the role and responsibilities that are being asked of you. As stated above, In-tray exercises are often specific to the role. Typically, between ten to as much as thirty in-tray items can be part of the exercise. This does not mean items are of equal size. The best candidates will generally keep all of these things in their mind simultaneously while they are responding to the in-tray items. The typical time-limit is an hour, so there can be a lot to get through. The exercise is challenging by design.

The typical time-limit is an hour, so there can be a lot to get through. The exercise is challenging by design.

What does an In-tray access?

In-tray exercises are much like situational judgement tests in that they assess a candidates ability to perform the necessary functions of the position applied for. These skills are not typical for other psychometric tests. We have a list here of some of these skills assessed:

  • Computer literacy
  • Decision making and prioritization
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Managerial ability and taking responsibility
  • Organisational skills
  • Time management and awareness
  • Understanding of organisational issues i.e. organisational culture/change

What is the difference between In-tray and E-tray exercises?

Both exercises are very similar in format and skills that they assess. The main difference is that an E-tray exercise will be taken on a computer, and an In-tray exercise will be completed using the hard copies provided. E-tray exercises are often a little more common in graduate level recruitment than In-tray exercises, due to the variety on offer from various test publishers. Nevertheless, given their similarity, practicing either an E-tray exercise or In-tray exercise will be helpful practice for the other.

Helpful In-tray exercise advice

We give some advice and helpful approaches to make sure you are better prepared for your In-tray exercise:

1. Follow Instructions

It is important that you read what the instructions are asking from you so your properly prepared for the question. This can be especially helpful where any logical requirements are given, as making a mistake in this regard might lead you to approach the question the wrong way, thus wasting your precious time.

2. Prioritisation and Time Management:

One of the main aspects on an in-tray exercise is that some tasks require your immediate attention and there are other talks that you can do later. This means that you must pay attention to what is a priority and what is not. Therefore, time management is key. Being aware of how long a task will take you, prioritizes and executing. You will have to use your judgement to assess which tasks are high priority and which are low. At times, you may be given the opportunity to have a junior member or staff complete a less pressing task as part of the exercise.

3. Research the organisation and the role:

In order to be better prepared, it is essential that you know about the organisation that you are wishing to join. Especially given that the In-tray exercise will be based on the role you are applying for, knowledge about the role will be essential, perhaps necessary. Remember, these exercises will frequently be related not just to the organisation, but to the role and to the sector.

How AssessmentDay can help

We have a practice In-tray exercise that can help with you preparation. We can give you advice on In-tray exercises used by different organisations. Practice exercises are a great way of preparing as it gives you the experience of the real thing, and can be a real confidence boost. Having seen similar questions before, you can learn from any mistakes you might make and improve your score in your actual In-tray exercise.