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What are In Tray Exercises?

A simulation of an everyday business working environment that tests an individual’s ability to recognise and prioritise tasks, then organise their workload and work-flow accordingly.

Sometimes referred to as an in tray test or ‘e-tray’ exercise, candidates are required to multitask by prioritising correspondence, writing a free text draft response and providing reasoning for their decisions and responses.

In tray exercise

Overview of Exercises

The in tray exercise replicates a typical working environment where candidates are required to identify and prioritise incoming tasks and suitably organise their workload. Candidates are required to multitask by prioritising correspondence, writing draft responses and justifying their decisions.

At the core level, this multi-tasking simulation represents a relatively simple scenario where the quantity of tasks, volume of text presented and complexity of language used is lower than that of the advanced in tray assessment.

At Professional level the difficulty of the task is raised by increasing the complexity of the scenario presented, the quantity of text presented and language used.

Candidate’s answers are subjective to an organisation’s requirement. Each question is marked manually by an administrator in context. Therefore, you have the ultimate control over what constitutes an appropriate response and score to the given scenario.

Customer benefits?

In tray assessments allow you to identify and evidence an individual’s business understanding and prioritisation skills. It also allows you to observe how a candidate constructs sentences and their personal style. The tests provide you with a clear and comparable output for each candidate.

We also provide tailored exercises dependent on your industry or the seniority of the candidate. These include:

Candidate benefits?

Assigning the appropriate subject assessment to the candidate minimises the length of the assessment, eliminates the need for the candidate to have to answer unnecessary/unrelated questions and ensures the results presented are accurate to that subject being measured.

Test difficulty levels?

CORE – In this test, candidates are required to demonstrate the ability to allocate time appropriately by prioritising a set of five short correspondences and drafting a reply. A candidate taking the Core level of this test is expected to have subject knowledge aligned to a higher level GCSE graduate.

PROFESSIONAL – In this test candidates are required to demonstrate the ability to allocate time appropriately by prioritising a set of seven long correspondences and drafting a reply to each correspondence. The Professional level builds on Core by increasing the number of questions asked, the complexity of the scenario, time pressure and the length of the correspondences. A candidate taking the Professional level of a test is expected to have subject knowledge aligned to an A-Level graduate.

Assessments Available:
Key skills measured:
  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Written communication
  • Deduction
  • Prioritisation
  • Business etiquette


In Tray Test FactFile


Require bespoke adjustments to these tests?

All assessments can be adjusted to meet your specific needs. Bespoke activities often include the addition of organisation specific questions relating to specific software, company policies and procedures as well as the removal of questions if required.

To find out more about our bespoke assessments, click here.

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What Clients Say About Us
Skillarena have given us a fresh perspective on our workforce and the motivation to build upon attracting the right people through an engaging employer brand.
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Skillsarena’s tests have been used throughout the organisation for all levels of recruitment up to the most senior and have been very well received. The response to the tests has been overwhelmingly positive. All of our recruitment managers are absolutely delighted.
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