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SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests: A Rough Guide

SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests: A Rough Guide
SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests: A Rough Guide

What Is the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test?

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is a graduate-level and above pre-employment aptitude test that is used in graduate and management recruitment for many roles across different industries.

The test is usually taken online, and it is designed to evaluate candidates on their ability to understand written information and make informed, reasoned and logical decisions based on that information.

SHL is a well-established test publisher, providing tests for more than 10,000 companies around the world. It offers a range of tests, including psychometric, behavioural and personality assessments that are based in occupational psychology and aptitude science. 

The tests have specific aims – and recruitment teams use SHL tests like the Verbal Reasoning Test to filter through similarly qualified candidates to find the applicants who have what it takes to be successful in a graduate or management level role.

When taking a verbal reasoing test, bear in mind that you might also be asked to take numerical reasoning tests, logical reasoning tests or personality tests along side.

Why Is the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test Used?

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test, along with the other pre-employment assessments published by SHL, are used by many different businesses across many different industries. It’s because they are reliable indicators of future success in graduate and management-level roles.

SHL tests have been translated into 40+ languages. 80% of companies listed in the FTSE 100 are using SHL tests to assess candidates, as are around 50% of the Fortune 500 – and that is because they are a cost-effective solution for screening candidates on the metrics that count for future success.

Using tests like the SHL Verbal Reasoning assessment can save recruitment teams time and money in the screening process, and they can be more cost-effective too.

What to Expect on the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

There are two different types of SHL Verbal Reasoning Test, and they have the same structure, number of questions and method of answering. It is just the delivery of the assessment that is different.

Most candidates will take the online version  of the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test. This is delivered via an email link and is completed on a computer. Most candidates will take this test at home and in their own time.

You will have to answer 30 questions in 19 minutes.

Each reading comprehension question will take the form of a passage of text, followed by a statement. There are multiple-choice options – you need to decide if the statement is true, false or cannot say based on the information in the text.

To be successful in the SHL Verbal Test, you need to be able to quickly read and understand a passage of text to be able to answer the question. The language used in the passage is usually quite formal and tends to be business-related, so it can be difficult to read in the brief time that you have available.

The structure of the SHL Verbal Reasoning test answers is sometimes referred to as TFC (True, False, Cannot Say), and it is important that you only use the information that you are given in the passage of text to select the answer – don’t be tempted to use any previous knowledge that you might have, because that is not what this test is about.

Aptitude or psychometric tests are about inherent abilities, not what you know or what you have been taught – so they are a measure of your reasoning abilities on the day.

These aptitudes, in this case verbal reasoning, will demonstrate to the recruitment team that you have the potential for future success in the role, based on your thinking and learning skills.

How Is the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test Scored?

The scoring of the SHL ability test is simple – you earn a mark for every correct answer. The recruitment team will receive your score as a comparison to other test takers, known as a ‘norm group’. 

For these purposes it is converted to a percentile score, which shows where your score sits within the norm group. For example, if you are in the 60th percentile, your score is better than 60% of test-takers in the norm group.

The comparative score is used to determine which candidates to take through to the next stage of the process.

There is no average score or pass mark, each individual employer will set their own benchmark. It is important to ask what score they expect before taking the test so you can prepare adequately.

Three Challenges to the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

1. Timing

One thing that candidates tend to struggle with the most when taking the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is the timing.

With only 19 minutes available to answer 30 questions, you will only have about 40 seconds in total to both read the information and find the right answer. This is not a lot of time, and can come as a surprise if you have not prepared using SHL Verbal Reasoning practice tests under exam conditions – including timers.

Some candidates choose to look at the statement before reading the passage to find the relevant information, while others will read the passage and then answer the question. 

The method that you choose will depend on how you like to work and will be something that you can decide when you are practising.

2. Using Prior Knowledge

Although it is natural for you to want to show off the recruitment team, using your own knowledge to answer the question is actually a pitfall that can impinge on your final score.

To answer each question correctly, you need to use only the information that is provided in the passage of text. Even if you are an expert in whatever the passage is describing, you have to assume that everything in the written text is true.

Another thing to remember when deciding whether the given statement is true is that all the information that you need to answer the question is included in the passage – so if you can’t find it, then you know the answer needs to be Cannot Say.

3. Word Usage

The language used in the passages of text is not usually what would be considered as everyday English.

The phrasing and words used are usually business language, with a more formal structure – which means that if English is not your first language, or you haven’t had much experience with more formal language, you might find this a challenge.

The dense structure and unfamiliar word usage also ties into problems that you might encounter with the timing – there is not a lot of time available for you to be able to try and work out what information a sentence is trying to convey, as well as choosing the right SHL verbal reasoning test answers.

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You will get access to three PrepPacks of your choice, from a database that covers all the major test providers and employers and tailored profession packs.

SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice Test Questions

SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice Question 1

Example Question

Many organisations in the UK benefit from employing temporary staff during summer. Permanent staff during this period take vacation breaks. It is also during summer that workload increases leading to the hiring of more staff. Temporary employees are paid a fixed rate minus bonus schemes and holiday breaks.

Statement: It is possible that temporary staff get to do the work left behind by permanent staff who are on holiday.

a) True
b) False
c) Cannot Say

Example SHL Verbal Reasoning Question 2

Example Question

A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that climate change is still a problem that governments need to address. According to the IPCC, a rise in global temperatures by up to 1.5°C and the emission of greenhouse gases will see the global ice sheets in the Antarctic and Greenland continue to melt. The result will be rising sea levels which will endanger millions of people across the globe. The report suggests that governments need to come together to find ways of reducing emissions for a sustainable future.

Statement: Reducing emissions is one of the best ways of slowing down global warming.

a) True
b) False
c) Cannot Say

Example SHL Verbal Reasoning Question 3

Example Question

The global Covid-19 pandemic has influenced the economy of almost all countries across the globe. This impact has been felt greatly in the business world. The pandemic has, however, created a much-needed change that was not as popular in the past. Remote working has become a part and parcel of almost all companies struggling to remain afloat due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. According to most reports, some companies will most likely carry on with this trend when it comes to certain roles.

Statement: Many companies are going to adopt remote working long after the Covid-19 pandemic is gone.

a) True
b) False
c) Cannot Say

Example SHL Verbal Reasoning Question 4

Example Question

The ‘Great Resignation’ has had a deep impact on recruitment, with many companies looking for new ways to find the right candidates for roles that were traditionally much easier to recruit for. It has become an applicant-first situation, where qualified candidates can afford to pick and choose where they want to work – and that means that the application process must be engaging and interesting, as well as providing data for making the right decisions. Pre-employment testing is one of the ways that recruitment teams are screening candidates, and gamified testing, aptitude assessments and personality tests are all common techniques used to find the right people for the right role at the right time.

Statement: It is easier to fill roles with qualified candidates since the Great Resignation.

a) True
b) False
c) Cannot Say

Example SHL Verbal Reasoning Question 5

Example Question

Following the announcement of a cost-of-living crisis, the energy company ABC is planning on a series of measures to support their customers in saving money where possible. Some of the advice given includes basics like taking regular meter readings to send in, making sure that the costs shown on invoices are correct. The other advice includes things like turning down radiators in rooms that are not in use and reducing the temperature on the boiler by 10 degrees.

Statement: The best advice for saving money during the cost of living crisis is to turn down your boiler.

a) True
b) False
c) Cannot Say

SHL Verbal Reasoning Test Tips

Step 1. Take SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice Tests

The best thing that you can do when you know that you are about to face the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is to practise.

Practice tests will give you some familiarity with things like the test layout and structure, and the type of questions that you will face. They are also an excellent opportunity to get used to answering questions under exam conditions, including a tight time limit, so you know exactly what you are in for in the real thing.

With your SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice test answers, you can also determine which areas you need to focus your study on.

SHLDirect is usually the resource that recruitment teams will point you to when you are going to be taking one of the SHL assessments.

This is quite a basic resource, and while any practice is better than none, there are other options for preparation, both free and paid for, that have more depth so that you can perform at your best – such as at JobTestPrep.

Step 2. Practise Your Time Management

If there was no time limit on the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test, it would be comparatively easy to complete – the content might include more formal language, but the answers are in the text that is in front of you.

The time limit and added exam condition pressure is what makes the SHL tests more difficult.

In the Verbal Reasoning Test, you will only have about 40 seconds for each question – and that is a really short amount of time.

When you are practising SHL Verbal Reasoning tests, the best thing that you can do is to use a timer so that you get used to answering under pressure.

Step 3. Hone Your Verbal Reasoning Skills

As previously mentioned, the language used in the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is not just basic English – which means that you need to revise to get the best results.

There are many different ways that you can boost your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, but one of the easiest is to read more widely. If you usually read fiction, try some news reports online or look at business journals, for example. 

You want to get exposed to more formal language where you can, so that you get used to the way things are phrased and discover new words to expand your vocabulary.

Any reading is better than none, and if you focus on sources that are relevant to the business that you have applied for, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone by doing research for your interview as well.

Step 4. Check Your Equipment

Most people take the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test online at home – so you need to make sure that your equipment is up to the task.

You will need a laptop or PC that has an up-to-date browser installed, as well as a decent internet connection. Some tests can be taken on mobile, but the bigger screen will help you in the long term.

Of course, the other thing to consider is your environment – you need quiet and you need to minimise distractions, so make sure that your phone is on ‘Do Not Disturb’ before you get started.

Step 5. Read the Passages and Instructions Carefully

Knowing that the test is timed – and that there isn’t a lot of time available – can make you rush. 

While you need to be answering the questions efficiently to get through the test before the time elapses, if you rush, you could be making some serious mistakes that could impact how many SHL verbal reasoning answers you get right.

Take the time to read the instructions – and the information in the passage – thoroughly so that you do not run the risk of missing something and choosing the wrong answer.

This is where doing a paid-for or free SHL Verbal Reasoning practice test will come in handy.

Step 6. Look After Your Wellbeing

If you want to perform at your best, you need to give your brain the fuel that it needs – and that means focusing on adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration.

In the run-up to the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test, try and get regular six to eight hours of sleep a night. It has been proven scientifically that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on cognitive function, so effective rest will ensure that you are firing on all cylinders.

Similarly, eating well and drinking plenty of water will keep you sharp and focused when you need it the most.

Step 7. Take a Guess

One of the important things to consider if you are stuck on a question is that you are better off making an educated guess, rather than leaving the question unanswered. 

The SHL tests are positively marked, so you won’t be penalised for getting it wrong, so you have nothing to lose and a one in three chance of getting a mark by guessing.

This will help when you are lingering on a tough one – you don’t need to waste time when you can guess.

Frequently Asked Questions

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is among the battery of tests produced by Saville Holdsworth Limited that are used as pre-employment screening assessments by thousands of companies. 

The test is an evaluation of your ability to use written information to make reasoned and logical decisions.

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is a timed test, and it requires you to have a good knowledge of formal English – so it is a hard test to pass unless you have practised already.

You can prepare for the real SHL Verbal Reasoning Test online, using shl-style resources like those at JobTestPrep, which offers a free SHL Verbal Reasoning test, as well as SHL Verbal Reasoning tips to get you started. 

There, you will also find detailed guides, example questions with solutions and explanations, and full-length practice tests so that you can be totally prepared. There are some example questions at SHLDirect that you might also find useful.

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is timed. You will have 19 minutes to answer 30 questions, which means you have about 40 seconds to read, understand and evaluate the information in the passages to answer the question.

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is used as a pre-employment screening tool, which means you will need to pass with a high score to be taken to the next stage of the recruitment process.

To pass, the best thing that you can do is to be prepared, using guides like this, as well as the revision and practice test resources available at JobTestPrep.

There is no official pass mark for the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test. The score you get will be compared to a ‘norm group’ of test takers for a similar position, and the recruitment team will choose only those who have passed the benchmark that the company has set. 

This means that you need to prepare and practise so that you can get the highest score possible.

You can get some sample questions for the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test at SHLDirect, the candidate site that has been created by the test publishers. 

However, there is not much in the way of resources to improve on that site, so you will find the information at JobTestPrep much more thorough, with sample questions, revision material and full-length timed practice tests there.

With your SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice test answers, you can also examine which areas you need to focus your study on.

As the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is usually used as a part of the recruitment process for a role, if you fail the assessment, your application will not be continued.

While you will not be allowed to retake the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test if you fail it during the recruitment process, you may be allowed to reapply for the role at a later date, which will give you another opportunity to take the test. The recruitment team will be best placed to advise you on this.

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is used as part of the recruitment process to assess the cognitive skills and verbal aptitude of candidates, usually when applying to managerial, executive or graduate positions.

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test, along with the other tests in the SHL battery, are used by 80% of companies in the FTSE 100 and about 50% of Fortune 500 companies.

This includes:

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • BAE Systems
  • Credit Suisse
  • British Airways

You can find a complete guide for the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test at JobTestPrep

The resources include SHL Verbal Reasoning Test tips, tricks and tactics to help you score highly in the test, as well as worked example questions and full-length practice tests. There, you’ll also find a free SHL Verbal Reasoning Test.

Final Thoughts

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test might be one of the most used assessments in recruitment, but it is not a test that should be taken lightly.

It is relied upon by recruitment teams for companies around the world, so if you want to land that dream career, you need to not only beat the test, but also beat the competition by getting the best score possible.

To ensure your success, you will need to prepare, so that you know what to expect, and practise under timed conditions so your score accurately reflects your ability.

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