Predictive Index Test: Two Types of Tests and How To Prepare

Updated May 26, 2023

A person smiles and holds a pen while talking to another person in an office setting.

A Predictive Index (PI) test allows recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate the cognitive abilities, personality traits and behavioral tendencies of a potential employee. When you're applying for a new job, an employer may ask you to complete this type of assessment to see how well your personality and habits align with those that support the success of the role you're seeking. Understanding more about the Predictive Index tests can prepare you to take these assessments and get results that reflect your traits as a candidate accurately.

In this article, we define a Predictive Index test, the two main types and ways to prepare for one.

What is a Predictive Index test?

Employers use two main types of Predictive Index tests to screen potential candidates. These two tests are the Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment (PICA) and the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment (PIBA). Instead of testing individual skills, these tests measure your abstract intelligence or personality characteristics such as dominance, extraversion, patience and formality. Corporations throughout the world ask candidates to take these tests to predict the likelihood of a candidate's suitability for and potential success in a particular job.

Related: 15 Top Qualities Employers Look For in Job Candidates

What is the Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment?

The PICA tests a candidate's cognitive ability and abstract intelligence. Because your cognitive ability can indicate your future performance as an employee, taking this assessment helps you and your potential employer understand if you'd be a good fit for the role.

The PICA aims to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process by assessing your ability to learn new skills and adapt to changing conditions in the workplace. It tests verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. Test takers receive 50 questions and strive to answer as many as possible in the provided time allotment.

Related: How To Improve Your Cognitive Skills in 5 Ways

What is the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment?

The PIBA tests your cultural fit in the workplace by discovering your personal motivations and needs. It helps employers select employees with the personality traits that can help them experience greater success in their position and the workplace environment. When they take the PIBA, candidates receive two questions, each of which relates to a single list of adjectives.

The first question requests the candidate to choose an adjective that describes the way their employer expects them to behave in a work environment. The second question requests the candidate to choose an adjective that describes the way they expect themselves to behave in a work environment. Each adjective belongs to one of four factors, which are:

  • Formality

  • Patience

  • Extraversion

  • Dominance

Once they submit their test, a candidate receives one of 17 Reference Profiles. These are depictions that the Predictive Index creates to describe how an individual works and behaves.

Related: What Is Personality Testing for Jobs? (Plus Several Types)

How to prepare for a Predictive Index Cognitive Assessment

Because the PICA tests your ability to solve various problems, it's possible to prepare in advance to get a higher score. Note that the PICA isn't only a tool for employers to screen candidates, but it's also a tool for candidates to find jobs that are suitable for them. Consider taking this exam early in your job search to understand what to expect and to help you identify which types of roles are ideal for your needs, tendencies, and personalities.

Here's how to prepare for the PICA:

1. Understand the types of questions

Here are the three categories of questions on the PICA and examples of each:

  • Numerical: Word problems, basic algebra and logical reasoning

  • Verbal: Word analogies, antonyms and verbal analysis

  • Abstract: Common features, visual analogies and visual series

Related: Basic Math Skills: Definitions, Examples and Improving Them

2. Take practice tests

Knowing what to expect is an important part of test preparation. The PICA has 50 questions and establishes a 12-minute time limit, so you can take online practice tests while following this time allotment.

Preview all of the questions before answering them to determine which may be easier for you to solve. Start with those and progress to the more challenging questions gradually. For example, if you're better at verbal skills than numerical skills, answer the verbal questions first.

Related: 12 Test-Taking Strategies To Help You Prepare for an Exam

3. Become comfortable with imperfection

Answering 50 questions that test your cognitive skills in 12 minutes is a challenging task, and the PICA doesn't expect everyone to earn a perfect score. If you're unsure of a question and it's taking you too long to come to the right answer, you can supply a guess and proceed to the next question. The PICA doesn't penalize candidates for wrong answers, so you may have a better chance of getting more questions correct if you move on from a question that you don't know how to answer.

How to prepare for a Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment

The PIBA is straightforward, relies on honest and personal insight and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Here's how to prepare:

1. View sample questions

View sample questions to get an idea of what to expect for the real test and practice your answers. Knowing what to expect and being ready to answer them can help you become more confident.

2. Consider what the test measures

It's important to remember that this test measures your personality traits. Consider the four categories of traits that this test assesses. These include:


People who score high in dominance tend to succeed in leadership roles and are independent, self-confident and assertive. They're comfortable with challenges and can handle conflict effectively. Those who score low in dominance are more likely to cooperate with team members, collaborate and help others.

Related: The 4 DISC Personality Types (Plus 12 Styles with Careers)


Those who score high in extraversion tend to engage with other people easily, influence their fellow employees and enjoy public recognition. People with lower extraversion drives may require more time than others to trust people, prefer to work with facts or creative endeavors and value privacy and alone time.

Read more: Introversion vs. Extroversion: Definitions and 7 Differences


People with a lot of patience tend to work at a steady pace, avoid changing situations and are good at forging long-term relationships in business and social settings. Alternatively, individuals without much patience thrive when there's variety in the workplace, and they tend to work at a faster pace for shorter amounts of time.

Related: The Importance of Being Patient and How To Develop Patience


People who score high in formality enjoy having clear, organized expectations and tend to be detail-oriented and disciplined. People with lower formality scores value spontaneity and informality and prefer a degree of freedom in their work without strict rules and controls.

3. Give honest answers

Give honest answers that reflect your true thoughts. This way, a potential employer can determine whether you'd be a good fit for the company. They may also use your results to determine in which department or role you'd perform well.

Remember that you're interviewing the company as well to see if it's a good fit for you. If the assessment results show that you might not be a good fit, this may ultimately benefit you. This allows you to avoid working at a company that doesn't align with your needs and preferences.

Is it possible to fail a Predictive Index test?

Predictive Index tests don't generate a pass or fail grade, so you can't fail a Predictive Index test. These assessments assess your strengths with certain cognitive skills and determine the prevalence of distinct personality traits. Providing honest answers and performing your best is beneficial for both you and the employer. Not only does it help employers evaluate a candidate's fit for the job, but it also helps a candidate receive offers for jobs that are ideal for them.

Because the PIBA is a free-choice assessment, meaning you can select as many or as few descriptors as you like, its methodology guarantees that test-takers are providing more accurate answers than other types of personality assessment tests. Although you can ask the employer questions or research the company beforehand to understand its culture and values, your perception of what an employer expects may differ from the hiring manager's true expectations.

General Predictive Index test preparation tips

Here are some general tips that can help you prepare to take a Predictive Index test:

Ensure you're in the right mindset to take the test

Ensure you're in the right mindset to take the test by preparing well in advance. You can also improve your chances of providing accurate answers that reflect your abilities and personality by getting a good night's sleep and eating a healthy meal before you take the test. It's also important to remind yourself that, regardless of the outcome of the test, it's an opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and your professional needs.

Use your time wisely

Because you only have 12 minutes to take the PICA, you can remain aware of the time to ensure you spend enough time on questions that you're confident in answering. Even though the PIBA doesn't have an established time limit, you can expect to dedicate between six and 10 minutes to providing thoughtful answers.

Create a distraction-free environment

Some employers let you access the PICA and PIBA tests at home. If you're taking the test at home, allow sufficient time to complete it without interruptions or distractions that could impact your results. If you have any children, pets, roommates or other family members at home, prep them in advance to support you as you take the assessment so that they don't interrupt you or create excessive noise in the environment.

Related: 11 Ways To Overcome Distractions While You're Working

Make sure you're taking the test in your native language

Although the Predictive Index tests are available in 70 different languages, you can take the test in your native language even if your employer uses a different language. This can give you a better chance of understanding every question, which can involve subtle nuances that change the meaning of certain phrases.

The reliability of Predictive Index tests

More than 10,000 companies across the world administer Predictive Index tests, and corporations have administered more than 42 million tests to date. These common tests have received approval from more than 350 validity studies and comply with the standards of the American Psychological Association. The tests' success relies on a human resources department's ability to determine which qualities are suitable for the roles they're filling. Predictive Index tests are only one aspect of a larger screening process for job candidates. As a job candidate, knowing what to expect can help you prepare for them and gain employment.

Related: 7 Types of Pre-Employment Assessment Tests and Screenings

Frequently asked questions

Do I pay to take a Predictive Index test?

In most cases, you don't pay to take a Predictive Index test. The employer covers this cost as part of the hiring process. There are also some free sample questions available from the Predictive Index, which is the company that creates and provides the exams.

What are the 17 Reference Profiles that the PIBA generates?

Once you finish taking the PIBA, the test produces one of 17 Reference Profiles that describe your behavioral needs and incentives. These  Reference Profiles  are:

  • Venturer

  • Strategist

  • Specialist

  • Controller

  • Analyzer

  • Scholar

  • Individualist

  • Promoter

  • Persuader

  • Maverick

  • Collaborator

  • Captain

  • Altruist

  • Operator

  • Guardian

  • Artisan

  • Adapter

How accurate are the PIBA results?

The PIBA results are very reliable, and the assessment undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it's scientifically reliable. In a 2019 study, the majority of respondents felt that their PIBA results described them accurately. The 3,535 survey respondents reported an average of a 4.4 out of 5.0 rating that their results and profile represented them accurately.

Can I have more time than 12 minutes for the PICA?

No, the PICA establishes a strict 12-minute time limit. While you can show strong critical thinking and great mental abilities by answering all the questions correctly, most employers expect candidates to not answer all the questions. Instead, an employer can use the results to determine a candidate's strengths and weaknesses by seeing which questions they completed correctly during the test.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


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