What Is the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test?

The Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test is a mechanical reasoning test offered by Pearson TalentLens. The exam is known as BMCT II. An older form of the test was called BMCT I but it is no longer offered by Pearson. BMCT II tests your ability to apply physical ideas in different situations. You are allowed to take it supervised or unsupervised. It is offered online and can be taken in US English, UK English, French, French Canadian, Dutch, Spanish, and Latin American Spanish. It is also offered with a pencil and paper, but these can only be taken in US English and Spanish. Generally, this test is used for pre-employment in industrial, mechanical, and engineering jobs. People who score higher on the test tend to show strong mechanical skills that are attractive to employers.

What Is the General Structure of the BMCT II Test?

The structure of this exam is known as a timed power test. It is not a speed test. This means you should not worry as much about speed. Instead, you should take time to study the physical ideas and mechanical subjects on the exam. You will have 25 minutes to complete the exam. In that time, you must answer 55 questions that are multiple-choice. The questions come from a group of 380 mechanical questions that are always updated. These questions are given to you at random from different topic areas.

The test comes in one form called BMCT-II. On this test, the questions are given at random for content and difficulty. The difficulty of each question goes from “easy” to “high”. Pearson tries to make tests that have the same number of questions in each difficulty level. Sometimes one BMCT II test is a little harder than another BMCT II test if it has more “high” difficulty questions. But if this happens, it is treated differently than a test with more “easy” questions. This means every test is scored fairly no matter how many times you take it or who takes it. Because of the random questions from the test bank, you do not have to worry about someone cheating off your test. No one receives the same exam, so your test is safe as you are taking it.

Topics and Test Content on the BMCT II

The topics on the test are broken down into 18 main sections:

Acoustics (2.7%)

Belt Drive (4.5%)

Center of Gravity (5.5%)

Centrifugal Force (3.6%)

Electricity (5.5%)

Gears (4.5%)

Gravity and Velocity (7.3%)

Heat (5.5%)

Hydraulics (10.9%)

Inertia (3.6%)

Levers (6.4%)

Optics (2.7%)

Planes and Slopes (5.5%)

Pulley Systems (6.4%)

Resolution of Forces (3.6%)

Shape and Volume (5.5%)

Structures (5.5%)

Miscellaneous (10.9%)

Tips How to Pass the BMCT II Mechanical Test

Here are some additional tips that we have on how to do well for this test:

Study the main principles – These are important. Every topic we mention has a law or principle that is used. It could be Newton’s Laws of Motion used in gravity and velocity. It could be Bernoulli’s Principle in hydraulics. It could simply be math. It does not have to be complicated. Just read what the laws mean and it should help you understand how to solve the questions.

Compare the pictures – The questions on the BMCT II usually have pictures that you look at. There can be a difference in the pictures. It is important that you see this difference and know what it means. Think about the law or principle for the problem and think about the difference. You should be able to answer the question from there.

Answer every question – You do not get penalized for missing a question or marking an incorrect answer. Most questions only let you choose from three answer choices. This means if you guess, you have a 33% chance of guessing right. You should give an answer for each question to increase your chance of a high score.

Practice the harder topics – If you know the laws and principles in one topic and can answer questions from it easily then do not study more of that. Try to study what is harder for you and what you do not know. This way you can have a better chance answering more questions correctly.

Use practice questions and tests – Take a practice test or some practice questions to help you get familiar with the test. Even though it is not a speed test, you only have 25 minutes to take it. You want to be ready for how the test will feel when you take it.

We have some practice questions for you to try in the next tabs. These can help you get an idea of what is on the BMCT II exam.

Summary of the BMCT II

The Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test is the most popular test used to show employers an understanding in physics and mechanics. Unlike other mechanical tests like the Ramsay MAT, the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude, and the EEI test, the Bennett test focuses on general mechanical ideas. These ideas are based on physics and cover a wide range of topics. However, the test does focus a bit more in hydraulics, gravity and velocity, levers and pulley systems questions. This test has been shown to be reliable for employers. Those who do well on it tend to perform better at their industrial, mechanical, and engineering jobs. If you perform very well on the test you will have shown your proficiency in mechanical comprehension, spatial visualization, knowledge of basic physical and mechanical laws, and education of how machinery works. You will have shown mechanical aptitude that is highly valued by employers. We hope that you do well on this exam for a better career in industrial, mechanical, and engineering positions.

Here we will review the 18 sections or topics of the test in depth. Within each topic you will find a sample question. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you will find the answer key.

Acoustics (2.7%)

Questions on acoustics require an understanding of sound waves passing through air, liquid, and gas. They test your knowledge on principles like the Doppler effect. They also test your understanding of waves in general and wave basics like refraction or reflection. There are about 1-2 Acoustics questions on the test.

Example:

Belt Drive (4.5%)

Questions on belt drives require knowledge on the different types of belt drives like open and crossed belts, and basic concepts like torque and tension. There are about 2-3 Belt Drive questions on the test.

Example:

Center of Gravity (5.5%)

Questions on center of gravity require you to think about where mass is concentrated in a diagram. You should be able to apply center of gravity to balance objects. You should know if objects would fall over or stay put in the presence of gravity. There are about 3 Center of Gravity questions on the test.

Example:

Centrifugal Force (3.6%)

Questions on centrifugal force require you to understand the effects of a rotating object or disc. The direction of centrifugal force and the source of the force are important to answer these questions. There are about 2 Centrifugal Force questions on the test.

Example:

Electricity (5.5%)

Questions on electricity require you to understand circuit diagrams. You should know the symbols for batteries and resistors, and the basic principles like the “path of least resistance” and Ohm’s Law. You should also know the basics of electric charge, electric potential, and resistance. There are about 3 Electricity questions on the test.

Example:

Gears (4.5%)

Questions on gears require you to understand the effect of a rotating system of gears. The direction of rotation, the speed of the gears, and the torque on the gears are all important to know for these questions. There are about 2-3 Gears questions on the test.

Example:

Gravity and Velocity (7.3%)

Questions on gravity and velocity require an understanding of the effect of gravity on an object. Concepts on the law of gravitation and the effect on planetary orbits may be tested. An understanding of potential and kinetic energy is also helpful. There are about 4 Gravity and Velocity questions on the test.

Example:

Heat (5.5%)

Questions on heat require understanding of heat sources and of heat transfer between two temperatures. Additional concepts like pressure, volume, and how to read thermometers and pressure gauges are essential for these questions. There are about 3 Heat questions on the test.

Example:

Hydraulics (10.9%)

Questions on hydraulics require an understanding of fluid flow down a pipe or body of water. Concepts on Bernoulli’s Principle, fluid pressure, and buoyant force are essential for these questions. There are about 6 Hydraulics questions on the test.

Example:

Inertia (3.6%)

Questions on inertia require basic knowledge on the law of inertia (Newton’s First Law of Motion) and the effect of acceleration on an object. It is important to know what inertia looks like in situations of an accelerating vehicle or in rotating objects. There are about 2 Inertia questions on the test.

Example:

Levers (6.4%)

Questions on levers require an understanding of torque about a fulcrum. Understanding how to balance objects on both sides of the lever and where there is a mechanical advantage is important. There are about 3-4 Levers questions on the test.

Example:

Optics (2.7%)

Questions on optics require an understanding of the properties of light. It also requires an understanding of the types of lenses (converging and diverging) and types of mirrors (convex and concave). It is important to know their images (real and virtual) and their orientation and size. There are about 1-2 Optics questions on the test.

Example:

Planes and Slopes (5.5%)

Questions on planes and slopes require an understanding of the objects that slide or roll. You should understand the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy of an object. Knowing the work needed to push or pull an object across a plane or slope is also helpful. There are about 3 Planes and Slopes questions on the test.

Example:

Pulley Systems (6.4%)

Questions on pulley systems require an understanding of gravity on a hanging mass and the tension in the pulley rope. You should understand how to divide the tension. You should also know how much force is needed to pull up the weight. There are about 3-4 Pulley Systems questions on the test.

Example:

Resolution of Forces (3.6%)

Questions on resolution of forces require an understanding of vectors and force as a vector. You should understand that forces could always be broken into two parts: one horizontal part and one vertical part. In 3D space there is a third part. It is important to know what direction the force points in the horizontal axis (left or right) and the vertical axis (up or down). It is important to see if forces cancel. It is helpful to draw a triangle with these questions if you need it. There are about 2 Resolution of Forces questions on the test.

Example:

Shape and Volume (5.5%)

Questions on shape and volume require you to know the volume of a cube, cylinder, sphere, cone, rectangular prism, and triangular prism. You should memorize the formula for these volumes and apply them to the problem. There are about 3 Shape and Volume questions on the test.

Example:

Structures (5.5%)

Questions on structures require you to understand how an object is put together. You must apply what you know about forces, torque, slopes, levers and more to answer these questions. There are about 3 Structures questions on the test.

Example:

Miscellaneous (10.9%)

Questions on the miscellaneous section are a random choice. They will be made up of topics that we have already discussed or of a special topic in physics and mechanics. There are about 6 Miscellaneous questions on the test.

Example:

Summary of Content and Structure

As you see, there are some topics that show up more often during this exam. Hydraulics and Gravity and Velocity make up the largest areas of the test if we don’t count Miscellaneous questions (remember that these are random questions and can test many mechanical or physical material). The Pulley Systems and Levers sections are the next largest. It is important to study these topics carefully for the exam. After the Hydraulics, Gravity and Velocity, Pulley Systems, and Levers sections, there are 12 other sections to study. The best way to do well on the exam is to study each of them with equal attention. Just study a little more with the larger subject areas we mentioned.

B – The belt drive turns in the direction shown by arrow B.

Explanation:

It is simple to solve this question if you know the types of belt drives. But since the BMCT II does not test knowledge, it is better to take time to work carefully through this problem. Look at the problem in steps. See the starting point of the belt drive (on the right). It moves clockwise as shown by the blue arrow on the right. Then, see how that moves the middle pulley. If you follow the belt line, you see that the middle pulley moves counter-clockwise. This is the opposite of the first pulley’s motion. Now that you know how the middle pulley moves, follow the belt line from the middle pulley to the last pulley. This belt causes the left pulley to move counter-clockwise. The arrow next to the letter B shows this direction.

Example 2

Answer:

A – Light bulb A will shine brighter.

Explanation:

You can solve this with Ohm’s Law. The pink light bulb is in parallel with the three other light bulbs. This means that they have the same electric potential (V) across those paths. But the path with the three light bulbs has a higher resistance (R) than the one with the pink light bulb. Ohm’s Law states that V=IR. If V is constant, a higher R means a smaller current (I). This smaller current is the same across the red, blue, and green light bulbs because they are in series. Also, the voltage across the red, blue, and green light bulbs is smaller than the voltage across the pink bulb (remember, voltage is shared among items in series but not in parallel). Together, we see that the red, blue, and green light bulbs have smaller I and V. This means that the power (P) through these light bulbs is also smaller. This comes from the equation P=IV. Less power through a bulb will make it dimmer. So the light bulb with more power through it shines brighter. This is light bulb A.

If you did not know about Ohm’s Law it can still be solved with common sense. Electricity has to flow across the circuit, which means it has to split between the pink bulb and the other three bulbs. The three bulbs have to share that electricity while the pink bulb does not have to share any. Because the red, blue, and green light bulbs share electricity they will shine less bright than the pink light bulb shines.

Example 3

Answer:

B – The ball is still at the very top.

Explanation:

The question asks you where the ball is still, or not moving. The dotted line shows you the path the ball takes. From this you can see that the ball raises first and then falls. It seems the ball is moving at all times but this is not true. Remember that when a ball moves up in air, gravity is “pushing” it back down. After some time, the ball will change direction to move down toward the ground. This change in direction happens at a point where velocity is zero in the vertical direction. Another way of saying this is that in order to go down after going up, the object must cross a zero velocity. At zero velocity, the object is still. Since the ball has zero velocity at the top of the path, the correct answer is B.

Example 4

Answer:

B – The wider side stream has greater speed.

Explanation:

It is helpful to see this problem in two parts. In the first part, the water flows down the very wide river. In the second part, the water has the choice to continue down the river or move off to a side stream. If it is easier to go into the side stream, then more water will flow there. If it is harder to move off into a side stream, then less water will move there. In River A the side stream is only 5km wide while in River B it is 10km wide. It is easier for the water to move in the wider stream because of more space and less friction. You should see that this question does NOT use Bernoulli’s Principle. The question instead requires you to think in terms of electrical current and resistance. In an electrical wire, current is the amount of charge per second moving in the wire. If the wire is very thin, less charge can move through and the resistance is high. If the wire is very wide, then more charge can move through and the resistance is low. It works the same way in the river’s side streams. A thin stream will have more friction, or “resistance”, and because of that there is less water flow, or “current”. The side stream in River B is wider and has higher “current.” B is the correct answer.

Example 5

Answer:

C – Both pulleys are equal in difficulty.

Explanation:

In system A, you would have to pull 5kg using the pulley. There is no extra support for you in this system so you pull the full weight of the block. In system B there are extra supports around the pulleys. It is important to count these supports carefully. These supports are vertical lines pulling the weight up, so you can see that there are four. The four supports share the same tension. This means they each can hold one-fourth of the block’s weight. Since the rope also shares the same tension in the supports, you would only have to pull one-fourth the weight with the rope. The block in system B (20kg) is four times as heavy as the one in system A (5kg). You would really be pulling the same weight across both systems. This makes C the correct answer choice.

Example 6

Answer:

A – The converging lens makes an upside-down image.

Explanation:

This is one question that will require you to study the basics of optics principles. A converging lens is the one shown in letter A and letter C. In letter B, a diverging lens is shown. Converging lenses always produce a real image. Their images are always upside-down. This is how your eyes see objects everyday. Diverging lenses always make virtual images. Their images are upright. If you understand these types of lenses and what images they produce it can be simple to pick the correct answer. Lens B produces an upside-down image when it should produce an upright one. Lens C produces an upright image when it should produce an upside-down one. This leaves lens A. It is the only one that correctly produces an upside-down image.

Example 7

Answer:

A — The slope with the smaller incline is easier.

Explanation:

When you push up an incline you have to work against gravity. Gravity “pushes” you and the object back down. If the incline is steep, like it is in image B, the heavier the object will feel. This is because you are more directly facing gravity. This means the job of pushing the block would be easier on the slope in image A.

After you take the BMCT II you will be sent an electronic Profile Report. This report shows how well you performed on the test compared to your norm. A norm is the performance of a large group of test takers. These test takers come from the same industry or occupation. Your score will be compared to scores of those test takers to see if you are a good fit in that industry/occupation. Actually, before you take the BMCT II you and the employer will decide what norm you need for your scores. It should be the one closest to your role. Here is a list of norms that you can choose from:

There are about 8 Occupation Norms:

Installation/Maintenance/Repair

Skilled Trades

Machine Operators/Machinists

General Labor

Vocational/Technical Students

Mechanics

Engineers

Industrial/Technical Sales

There are about 2 Industry Norms:

Energy and Utilities

Manufacturing and Production

Once you choose the norm you need, you can use your scores to see if you are competitive. The scores presented in your Profile Report are the raw score (number of questions answered correctly), the percentile rank (your ranking compared to your norm), the Standard T-Score, STANINE score, and STEN score. These five scores are based on some statistics. We will go over them briefly so that you can better understand them. But first, we will go through some basic statistics (you may skip this section if you already know statistical methods behind score reporting):

Statistics Behind Score Reports (Optional)

If you take all the scores from the test takers in your norm, there is a single score that describes the center of those scores. It is called the mean. Most of the scores that the test takers have will be around the mean. For example, if the Vocational/Technical Student norm has a mean raw score of 43, then most of the scores from that norm will be around 43. The range of scores that most people get on the exam is called the standard deviation. It tells you the scores that 34% of the test takers got in the norm. In the same example, a standard deviation of 8 tells you that about 34% of the test takers got scores between 43 and 51 (8 points above the mean) and another 34% got scores between 35 (8 points below the mean) and 43. Notice that the standard deviation is always measured from the mean score. We say that 1 standard deviation above the mean and 1 standard deviation below the mean is where about 68% scored on their tests. 2 standard deviations above and below the mean are where 95% scored, and 3 standard deviations is where 99.7% scored on the test. Employers may be more interested in applicants who score above 1 standard deviation above the norm’s mean score. In our example, this would mean people who scored above 51 would have a better chance of being selected in the application process than people who scored less than 51.

Figure 1: Here is a graph to help you understand the test scores in a norm group. Your test scores are on the horizontal axis and the numbers of test takers who got that score are on the vertical axis. As you see, most people get scores around the center, also called the mean. Fewer people get scores far away from the mean. Just look at the percentages. The number in front of ∆ in the horizontal axis is the number of standard deviations measured from the mean. The distance between the vertical separation lines in the graph are exactly 1 standard deviation long (1∆). Please note that this picture is just for your understanding and that this is not shown in your Profile Report.

Understanding Your Scores

For the BMCT II, your raw score is the number of questions that you answer correctly. But this score is not very useful because it does not consider the difficulty of the questions you answered (from “easy” to “high”). Pearson uses a model that takes into account the difficulty of the questions. It produces a score called the “theta” score, or the ability score. It is not presented in the Profile Report but it can be accessed on your online account with Pearson. It is used to calculate your percentile rank, which is indeed shown on the report. Your percentile rank is the % of people in your norm who scored at or below your level on the exam. A percentile rank of 72% means 72% of test takers scored worse than you and 28% scored higher than you. You can see, it is always better to have a higher percentile rank. Employers may use a cutoff rank to forward applicants to the next application steps. People consider 80% to be a good cutoff. This means you need to score better than 80% of the people in your norm. But it is important to know that the cutoff depends on the employer, and it is best that you talk to them about what their cutoff is. Also, please note that you cannot use your percentile rank for any other norm but the one you selected. If you select the Engineering norm during your test, you cannot use your percentile rank to compare your position in the General Labor norm or in any other norm, for example.

Lastly, your Standard T-Score, STANINE, and STEN scores are included in the Profile Report and are standardized. This means you can compare these scores with other people in your norm. These are not your raw score or theta score. These are extra scores to help you see how you did compared to your norm. You can get a T-Score between 10 and 90. The mean T-Score in your norm will always be 50 with a standard deviation of 10. This means 34% of test takers in your norm will always have a T-Score between 40 and 50 and another 34% will always have scores between 50 and 60. You can get a STANINE score anywhere between 1 and 9. The mean STANINE score in your norm will always be 5 with a standard deviation of 2. You can get a STEN score between 1 and 10. The mean STEN score in your norm will always be 5.5 with a standard deviation of 2. The table below shows a summary of all the scores you will see on your Profile Report.

Figure 2. Summary of Scores on your Profile Report

Score

Description

Range

Average/Mean

Std. Dev. (∆)

Raw Score

Number of questions answered correctly (out of 55).

0-55

Depends on norm

Depends on norm

Percentile Rank

% of people who scored at or below your score on the test.

<1%-100%

Depends on norm

Depends on norm

T-Score

A score used to see how you did compared to your norm.

10-90

50

10

STANINE

A score used to see how you did compared to your norm.

1-9

5

2

STEN

A score used to see how you did compared to your norm.

1-10

5.5

2

Do not be alarmed by the amount of scores you have. The employer will decide your performance based off them. If you want to know your standing in your norm, your percentile rank should be good enough. If you want to change your score to one that would fit in a different norm, then you must contact Pearson to have the score changed for you. If you do this, you might be able to apply for different positions without having to take the test again.

Important Information: The list of norms we provided is a small list for everyone taking the test. There are many more jobs that the BMCT II can be used for with applicants and employers. Please keep in mind that there is no perfect score. Pearson itself does not set a passing score. Potential employers will decide what score or percentile rank works for them. They will also consider other factors like experience and interviews as part of the hiring process. Still, we hope you get the most of our tips and practice so that you get the best score possible no matter the job, norm, or employer.