. The aperture mass has been shown in a series of recent publications to be a useful quantitative tool for weak lensing studies, ranging from cosmic shear to the detection of a mass-selected sample of dark matter haloes. Quantitative analytical predictions for the aperture mass have been based on a number of simplifying assumptions. In this paper, we test the reliability of these assumptions and the quality of the analytic approximations, using ray-tracing simulations through a cosmological density field generated by very large N-body simulations. We find that those analytic predictions which take into account the non-linear evolution of the matter distribution, such as the dispersion of the aperture mass and the halo abundance, are surprisingly accurately reproduced with our numerical results, whereas the predictions for the skewness, based on quasi-linear theory, are rather imprecise. In particular, we verify numerically that the probability distribution of the aperture mass decrease..