The Expert Guide to Verbal Reasoning Tests (with Example Test Questions + Top Tips to Pass Every Time!)
Updated November 18, 2023
Verbal reasoning tests are an increasingly common way for companies to find the most suitable candidates for their roles. They can be challenging to pass but, thankfully, help is available. Here you’ll get all the information you need to pass your verbal reasoning test.
Verbal reasoning tests have become a common practice in companies looking to hire highly skilled and qualified professionals or evaluate the existing workforce.
They help simplify the recruitment and onboarding processes and allow candidates to find roles suited to their skills and needs.
This article brings you an overview of verbal reasoning tests, example questions with answers and explanations, and tricks to improve your performance and obtain high scores on the assessment.
Let’s take a look!
An online verbal reasoning test assesses a candidate’s ability to understand and comprehend written text. They measure a candidate’s verbal comprehension, reasoning skills, logic and understanding of language.
The verbal reasoning tests have the goal of determining whether a person can read a written passage and interpret it without jumping to a conclusion or misunderstanding something in the statement provided to them.
Verbal reasoning tests tend to take the form of a passage of text. These are followed by a series of questions. The verbal reasoning questions are answered with either a true, false or cannot say statement or have multiple choice answers.
These tests are typically timed, with candidates having about 30 to 50 minutes to answer each question, depending on employer requirements or test developer recommendations for testing difficulties. Verbal reasoning is also used in conjunction with other tests.
For example, a recruitment or employee evaluation package can include a numerical reasoning test, personality test or another form of behavioural or aptitude assessment.
There are many different providers out there, with probably the SHL verbal reasoning test being the most common.
Aside from completing an SHL verbal reasoning practice test, it’s important to know there are other providers such as Saville, Cubiks, Talent Q and cut-e.
It is worth bearing in mind that alongside your verbal reasoning test, you might be asked to take other assessments, such as numerical reasoning tests, situational judgement tests, logical reasoning tests or personality tests.
Verbal reasoning tests are commonly used by recruitment firms to predict how successful a candidate can be in a given role.
For example, 90% of employers offering positions in law or education use the test. However, there is also a high usage in other industries, such as the public sector, consultancy and finance.
Along with other tests, the verbal reasoning test can determine whether or not a candidate can fulfil an open position or is ready to move on to a more responsible role at a company. The test will determine someone’s skill level with the English language.
There are five different categories for verbal reasoning tests. These include:
- Spelling – These test your ability to identify incorrectly spelled words.
- Word Meaning – These evaluate your vocabulary and ability to understand the meaning of words.
- Word Relationship – These test your understanding of the specific meaning of words and their relationship between them, evaluating your vocabulary and reasoning ability.
- Comprehension – These evaluate your ability to understand and interpret the identification provided in the text.
- Critical Reasoning – These assess your ability to deduct facts from a written passage and understand and manipulate them to solve a problem.
Practising tests in these areas can help you familiarise yourself with all the possible questions you might get on the real test. Traditionally, this test is only provided for graduates and those seeking management roles.
Here are a few verbal reasoning sample questions that you can expect during the test.
‘Many businesses resort to employing temporary employees during the holidays. This allows them to have enough workers to cover busy shopping periods.
Using temporary staff is a cost-effective way to meet the high demand in the holiday season, because the temporary staff usually receives a fixed rate salary and aren’t entitled to paid holidays.
However, this can be problematic, because it's hard to ensure that all workers provide the required levels of customer care. Customer complaints tend to increase during holidays.’
Based on the passage you just read, mark each of the following statements as true, false or cannot say.
a) Temporary staff are entitled to paid holidays
b) Retailers are particularly busy during the holidays
c) Temporary staff receive customer care training before they begin work
d) Customer complaints increase during the holidays because of the temporary staff
‘Climate change has a tremendous impact on our lives. Studies suggest that, as a result of these events, low-lying coastal areas can become completely submerged. This will cause the human population to migrate and suffer unseen losses.
Drinking water will become scarce – and pose a conflict to manage the existing resources. It has been proven that climate change is created by human activities.
Because of this, it's on us to combat it. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, promoting clean renewable energy and supporting and nurturing energy-efficient new technologies are the crucial steps to take.
We must embrace technology, like low-energy lighting, to reduce greenhouse gases without impacting our quality of life or the life of future generations.’
Based on the passage you just read, which of the following statements is true?
a) Our standard of living will deteriorate regardless of whether or not we take steps to combat climate change
b) The causes of climate change are still unknown
c) Climate change has the potential to lead to humanitarian crises
d) The impacts of climate change are likely to affect underdeveloped territories.
Complete the following sentence.
The prolonged ________ of the work schedule caused some _______ for our customers.
Find the correlation between the following word and complete the sentence:
*Running for a cougar is like soaring to an _________ *.
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How to Prepare for Verbal Reasoning Tests
There are numerous ways to prepare for candidates who are due to take an online verbal reasoning test.
Here are some of the best ways to prepare for your verbal reasoning tests.
Completing a practice verbal reasoning test is vital to allow you to identify the different question formats and improve your response to questions.
Most verbal reasoning tests are timed, and a practice verbal reasoning test helps ensure you can answer questions in the allocated time frames.
You'll need to brush up on your time management skills by completing the practice tests within the given time limit. If you need to, start with a longer time frame and slowly reduce it until you become confident working within the prescribed time limit.
Due to the limited timeframe for the assessment, you'll need to improve your strategy on the verbal reasoning tests.
You can do this in several ways. For example, you can read the passages carefully and ensure you understand the information presented in the text.
Or you can eliminate the obviously wrong questions first. In some tests, you can quickly complete some easy questions before moving on to more challenging questions later. You'll have more time to consider your verbal reasoning test answers to the difficult questions.
Question format and requirements can vary in different tests, so make sure to read and follow the instructions carefully on each practice verbal reasoning test you complete. This will allow you to understand what's being asked of you and answer the questions correctly.
Don't rush when reading the instructions, as this could lead to your misinterpreting the questions and providing false verbal reasoning test answers, despite your skills and knowledge.
Ensuring you’re not tired, hungry or thirsty can go a long way toward optimising your performance on the test. These can affect your focus and ability to work efficiently and quickly.
Have plenty of rest (including at least seven hours of sleep) and avoid strenuous activities before testing.
Have a nutritionally balanced meal about two hours before your test to optimise your blood sugar levels, which can affect your concentration.
Drink plenty of liquids and avoid alcohol. Also avoid too much caffeine, salty foods and high-energy activities, as these can all lead to dehydration before the test.
Most verbal reasoning tests are computer-based assessments, and you may be allowed to take them on your home computer. If you’re taking a test at home, check your computer, internet connection and any piece of technical equipment you'll need for the test.
This will help you avoid failing the test due to a loss of connection or other technical difficulties. While some recruiters allow resits in case of technical issues, not all will be this generous.
Doing a practice verbal reasoning test online provides an excellent chance for testing your equipment to ensure everything is in working order before the real test.
A verbal reasoning test evaluates an individual's ability to understand and interpret written passages. It's often applied in job recruitment processes alongside other personality and aptitude tests.
With proper preparation, verbal reasoning tests aren't too hard to pass. They aren't meant to be too challenging, but you'll need to brush up on your reading and comprehension skills. Time limitations can also present a challenge with these assessments.
You can prepare for verbal reasoning tests by doing a free practice verbal reasoning test. These will help you familiarise yourself with the types of questions you'll encounter on the real test.
Make sure to practise both the multiple-choice and the true/false type of questions that measure your ability to understand and interpret texts. Also, make sure you’re not accidentally doing a free non-verbal reasoning test, as this is a different type of test.
Practising is critical for passing verbal reasoning tests, and so is focus. You must pay attention to the questions to answer them correctly.
Brush up on your time management skills, so you can complete as many answers as possible within the given timeframe. Mental and physical preparation will also help to maximise your focus.
Most verbal reasoning tests are relatively short, lasting an average of 20 minutes. Some will last only 15 minutes, while combined tests can last up to 45 minutes.
While the number of questions varies depending on the test provider, candidates typically have around a minute to answer each question.
On verbal reasoning tests, the score is calculated as a percentile (out of 100%). This is based on the number of correct answers, which gives the overall score.
This score is then compared to a benchmark based on scores of other people applying for positions at a similar organisational level and occupation to the one you are.
You can get verbal reasoning examples from the test provider for some verbal reasoning tests. However, you can get even more verbal reasoning test examples and mock tests (free or paid) from websites that offer help with different forms of testing for adults and children.
An example of these websites is JobTestPrep.
Whether you use paid or free verbal reasoning tests, practice is always vital.
There is no official passing score for verbal reasoning tests. That said, candidates who rank in the top 85% are usually successful at landing the position they're applying for.
For more in-demand roles, aim to score in the top 95 percentile. This will allow you to stand out from the competition and secure the job.
Verbal reasoning tests measure the applicants’ verbal comprehension, verbal reasoning skills, logic and a general understanding of the English language.
Through this, they can help determine whether you can read written passages and interpret them without misunderstanding and drawing the wrong conclusions.
Most verbal reasoning tests have a very strict time limit. You'll have a minute or less to complete each question, so you'll have to work efficiently and quickly. Practising time management can help you with this.
This depends on the employer and the test developer. Some test providers don't recommend allowing candidates to retake the verbal reasoning assessment after failing it.
Other times, it's the employers who prefer to focus on well-performing candidates and won't allow failed applicants to retake tests within the same job recruitment process.
However, some recruiters will permit resits, so be sure to check the policy of the company you're applying for.
Verbal reasoning tests are crucial parts of job recruitment processes in different fields. There are five different types of verbal reasoning tests: spelling, word meaning, word relationship, comprehension and critical reasoning.
Practising them and learning how to pass them confidently is fundamental to obtaining a good score and landing your dream job. They can even help you move forward in your career.