About the SHL General Ability Test

SHL is one of the most popular test publishers in the world, and the assessments that they have created are used in more than 150 countries for recruitment, to assess employees for promotion and to establish learning and development programs, and to monitor performance.

The types of assessments that SHL creates includes cognitive, personality, behavior, skills and job simulation tests, which makes it likely that you will come across an SHL assessment if you are applying for a role within a large national or multinational company, such as Deloitte, Barclays, IBM, Uber or CBRE, among others.

The SHL General Ability Test is sometimes referred to as the Verify G+ Test, and there are two versions in current use.

The Interactive Verify G+ allows you to select and move items on the screen when you are answering, and it is an adaptive test that changes depending on how easily you are answering the questions.

The Multiple-Choice Verify G+ is a simple multiple choice assessment, where you simply need to choose the right answer from the given options.

Both options cover the same topics and have broadly the same level of content. The assessments are used early in the recruitment process for a number of roles to test candidates on their thinking and problem-solving abilities.

The test is designed to assess cognitive function, so that the recruitment team can see how well you process new information and work under pressure.

Depending on the test you take, you’ll face between 24 and 30 questions, and you will have 36 minutes to complete the assessment.

SHL General Ability Sections

shl style general ability test

The SHL General Ability Test is divided into three sections; numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning.

The interactive version has eight questions in each section, while the multiple-choice version can have up to ten in each.

SHL general ability deductive reasoning

The deductive reasoning assessment is all about your ability to use logic to make a reasoned conclusion.

Some of the questions that you will face might be about following directions and making decisions based on specific constraints. You’ll have to choose the answer that meets the conditions set in the information that you are given.

The deductive reasoning section can also ask questions relating to scheduling deadlines or creating seating plans, for example.

For many candidates, this can be one of the hardest sections in the assessment as logical thinking can be complicated, especially when you are having to follow some very specific directions to get to the right answer - but there are no trick questions, and as long as you read every question properly you should be able to find the right answer in the end.

SHL general ability inductive reasoning

The inductive reasoning section is all about non-verbal reasoning, and the questions are based on different series of icons, shapes, or images. The items will be in some sort of sequence, changing through movement or direction, and there will be a pattern to the sequence that decides how the items move.

There will be a missing item in the sequence, and you will need to find the pattern or rule that governs the sequence, and use this to logically find the right answer from the options given.

Inductive logic skills demonstrate that you are able to work with unfamiliar information to find a specific conclusion, and that you can recognize patterns in data to make a reasoned decision.

SHL general ability numerical reasoning

In the numerical reasoning section, you are being assessed on your ability to read, understand and analyze numerical data that is presented in a table, graph or other data sets.

The questions based on this numerical data will require you to perform some basic mathematical functions to find the right answer; you might need to think back to your math lessons at school though, they aren’t complicated usually.

You might need to know about simple operations like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication, and be confident working with percentages, fractions, ratios and averages.

How to prepare for and pass an SHL general ability test

Like any aptitude test, the SHL General Ability Test is not about what you have learned - it is an aptitude test looking specifically at your cognitive skills.

You are being assessed on your ability to solve problems using the information that you are given, and you need to be able to reach reasoned conclusions from the details that you are provided, whether that is from spotting patterns in images, following written information to make a logical decision within given constraints, or using basic math to solve a numerical problem.

Preparation for tests like this comes from familiarity rather than revision. You do not need to be able to remember all that you have learned at school for example, or go through reams of revision to be successful.

What is particularly important when it comes to aptitude tests is knowing what skills and competencies the employer is looking for in a candidate, so that you know what skills you need to showcase. You can find this information in the job description, as well as get a feel for the culture and goals of the business from the data on their website, for example.

Passing the SHL General Ability Test means not only performing to the best of your ability, but also outperforming other candidates who have applied for the role too. Most recruitment teams will only take the top 20% of applicants to the next stage of the process.

Example questions

Example Deductive Reasoning Question

Given the following statements, which answer is true?

Guitars are stringed instruments.

Some stringed instruments can be played with a bow.

Therefore, guitars can be played with a bow

a) True

b) False

c) Cannot tell

The answer is c) cannot tell, as the statement says that only some stringed instruments can be played with a bow, but the details don’t specify if the guitar is one of them.

Example Inductive Reasoning Question

Look at the below sequence of shapes. What shape comes next?

⬆️ ↗️ ➡️ ↘️ ( )

a) ⬆️

b) ➡️

c) ⬇️

d) ↗️

The answer is c) because the arrows are rotating clockwise.

Example Numerical Reasoning Question

Day Number of visitors Number of buyers
Monday 22 1
Tuesday 13 5
Wednesday 34 18
Thursday 28 15
Friday 56 32

The table above shows the number of people who visited a museum shop, compared to the number of people that actually made a purchase on the same day.

On which day was the rate of purchasers highest?

a) Monday

b) Tuesday

c) Wednesday

d) Thursday

e) Friday

The answer is e) Friday, because a higher proportion of visitors made a purchase. To work this out, you need to look at the percentage of visitors who made a purchase.


SHL mobile-enabled interactive vs. SHL standard multiple choice: what are the differences?

The main difference between SHL interactive and the standard multiple choice assessment is that the interactive assessment is adaptive and asks fewer questions. In the interactive assessment, you will drag and drop items on the screen to answer questions, whereas in the standard assessment you will just choose the right answer from the multiple choice options presented.

How are SHL general ability tests scored?

SHL General Ability Tests are positively scored, which means you will receive marks for every right answer, and will not be penalized for making a mistake or missing an answer. When your score is collated, the report that is created will show where you scored the marks out of the three sections, and then present your score in comparison to a ‘norm group’.

The norm group that is used will be similar to the profile of the role you have applied for, and the usual groupings include operational, graduate, supervisor and manager. This will give you a final score presented as a percentile. For example, if you score in the 80th percentile, you will have scored better than 80% of the norm group - and this is the score that you should aim for.

How can I get a good score on the SHL general ability tests?

To get a good score on the SHL General Ability Test you need to practice, using full-length practice tests online where you can.

During the assessment, make sure to read the questions properly, and try to answer every question to maximize your score.

Are SHL general ability tests difficult?

SHL General Ability Tests are not difficult in terms of content, but the questions are being asked under exam conditions and with a strict time limit. They are designed to be used early in the recruitment process to filter a large applicant pool, so they need to be challenging enough to differentiate between similar candidates.

Tips to Pass the SHL General Ability Test

shl style general ability test

Tip 1: Practice numerical reasoning, deductive reasoning, and inductive reasoning tests

Even if you answer just a few example questions on each of these subjects, you’ll get a good idea of the content that is usually used. They don’t even necessarily have to be published by SHL or based on the General Ability Test; most of these questions are similar across test publishers and will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Tip 2: Practice SHL General Ability Tests

The SHL website has practice assessments available for the General Ability Test, which you can take to get an accurate idea of what the test will look and feel like when you come to take it for real.

You can also find practice tests online that are designed to mimic the SHL General Ability Test, and when you practice these you should always make sure that you are taking the test under exam conditions, including the 36-minute time limit for the best results.

Practice assessments will help you build familiarity with the test structure and layout, how you are meant to answer the questions, and how quickly you need to work to get through the whole test.

Tip 3: Train your brain

While cognitive ability and aptitude tests don’t need specific revision, you might want to brush up on your school-level math knowledge. You don’t have to be a college math genius to answer the numerical reasoning questions, but you do need to be able to apply basic principles to the tables of data so it is worth looking at.

In terms of logical reasoning, both inductive and deductive, you can use games on your smartphone to learn while you play. Brain training games, logic puzzles, and even word searches and crosswords can help.

Tip 4: Prepare yourself

As with any assessment, you want to be able to perform well - and preparation beforehand is essential. What this means is that you need to get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy and balanced meal, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Your brain needs the right fuel for success, so make sure that you are doing the best you can to help.

Tip 5: Answer all the questions

As the SHL General Ability Test is positively marked, you will not lose any points for answering a question wrong.

In both the interactive and the multiple-choice test, you should try and answer all the questions, even if you are not sure of the answer that you are giving, as you cannot get a mark for an empty answer but you at least have a chance to score a point if you make an educated guess.