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shl verbal reasoning

SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests

  • 45 tests
  • 675 questions
shl verbal reasoning

SHL’s verbal tests are used by many employers as part of their recruitment process. The tests allow the employer to assess a candidate’s aptitude for comprehension, understanding and evaluation of written passages, and compare that score to those of other applicants.

About the SHL verbal reasoning test

SHL is a common provider of verbal tests, typically used at graduate-level and managerial entry roles. Its verbal tests often are just one part of a larger suite of tests carried out by the employer to assess the candidate’s skills and suitability for a particular role.

SHL verbal tests are usually taken on a computer. It varies depending on the recruiter as to whether the test is taken online (at a time and place of the candidate’s choice) or at a test centre or the employer’s office.

SHL verbal tests take the form of a series of short written passages, after which a question is posed and, using the information in the passage, the candidate is invited to select ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘cannot say’ in response. This is often referred to as TFC.

Candidates should remember to only base their answers on the information given in the passage, not any other additional facts or outside knowledge.

The test usually contains 30 questions, with candidates given 17 to 19 minutes to answer. Questions are drawn randomly from a database of questions, so each candidate sits an individual test.

SHL verbal tests are straightforward but usually require practice for a candidate to confidently answer in the required way, using only information contained within the written passages.

How to prepare for and pass an SHL verbal test

As with any psychometric test, the key to success with an SHL verbal test is to practice. Each question must be answered in less than a minute, which includes reading the passage and all three answers, as well as the time taken to select the correct choice.

Careful preparation for the SHL verbal test will improve your speed and accuracy, as you become more familiar with the types of passage and the format in which questions are asked.

After you’ve taken a practice test, look at where you went wrong. Is there a pattern? Are you jumping to conclusions, or basing your choice on information or knowledge beyond what is written in the passage?

You will learn as much from considering the wrong answers as you will just practising multiple questions.

We also recommend practising in exam conditions (e.g. silence, on your own, without assistance or looking up answers) and to time yourself with every set of practice questions.

To pass and succeed at an SHL verbal test, you should aim to get 90% or more of the questions correct. This will come from a combination of answer accuracy and familiarity with the format of the test, to allow you to complete the test in the required time frame.

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Free example SHL verbal questions

We recommend you start with our free SHL verbal practice tests and questions. Each example practice question includes one passage and then multiple questions relating to that same passage.

Answers and explanations follow beneath the questions.

Verbal critical reasoning

shl verbal reasoning practice test

Statement: The passage suggests that it is safer to spread your savings across a range of different investments.

  • A) True
  • B) False
  • C) Cannot say

Reading comprehension

shl verbal reasoning practice test

If more tourists come to this country, it will mean:

  • A) Fewer jobs in some restaurants
  • B) Fewer people wanting fast food
  • C) More jobs in many hotels
  • D) The government doesn’t worry about job creation

Word analogy

shl verbal reasoning practice test

Which of the following would best replace the word ‘outstanding’ in sentence 3?

  • A) Remaining
  • B) Superb
  • C) Multiple
  • D) Supportive


Verbal critical reasoning: True – the third sentence explains that the very rich have been diversifying their portfolios to reduce the risk of sudden changes in share prices.

Reading comprehension: The second paragraph talks about the fact that if more tourists are encouraged to come to this country it will translate into more business for hotels and this will result in more jobs (‘Just think of the new jobs this will generate!’). This makes C) the only correct response.

Word analogy: The use of the word ‘outstanding’ suggests that customer service has to be really great. Option B – superb – is the best word to replace outstanding in this case.

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Are SHL verbal tests difficult?

SHL verbal tests are not difficult once you are familiar with the format, and are confident assessing whether the question bears any relation or relevance to the contents of the passage of text. SHL verbal tests are pitched at an appropriate level for the job applied for – a graduate role will be harder than an apprentice level role, for example.

How are SHL verbal tests scored?

SHL verbal tests are scored by awarding one mark per correct answer. There is no pass mark as such, as it will depend on the scores of the other candidates also interviewing for the same role. Candidates should aim to be in the top 20% of scores to succeed, which at a graduate assessment centre is likely to mean scoring 27 or higher out of 30.

How long is an SHL verbal test?

An SHL verbal test will take between 17 and 19 minutes to complete and you will need to answer 30 questions.

What if English isn’t my first language?

If English is your second language, you will find an SHL verbal test harder. You will need to practice more, concentrating as much effort on practising reading different publications about different subjects, as much as you practice set format tests.

Where can I practice verbal reasoning tests?

You can practice verbal reasoning tests using our free practice tests and example questions. You can also find our entire suite of practice questions here.

How can I improve my verbal reasoning?

We recommend finding as many practice questions and answers as you can, and familiarising yourself as much as possible with different written passages and styles of questions. Once you have a good idea of what to expect and how to answer the types of questions posed, you will be able to practice answering the questions faster.


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SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests Tips


This is always our number one tip, as we know that candidates who have spent time preparing and practising – and are familiar with the style and format of the SHL verbal test – will perform better than those who don’t.

2Keep an eye on the time

When you take the test, it’s no good getting all the answers right if you don’t finish the test, as you will automatically get no score for the answers you don’t complete. Make sure that you keep practising to a timer, and that when you sit the test, you keep to the time you’ve allocated per question (just over 30 seconds per question).


Read widely and about subjects outside of your area of interest, so that you are used to reading unfamiliar text. Turn reading into more practice by identifying themes and concepts; try explaining what you have read to someone else.

4Understand where you go wrong

When assessing the answers to your practice tests, try to understand whether your issue is in inaccurately reading the passage or question (e.g. skim reading), making assumptions or perhaps introducing additional knowledge. Take time to eliminate each of these errors.

5Be prepared

Make sure you know where you are taking the test and that your brain is in the right state. Sounds obvious, but ensure you’ve had sleep and are not thirsty, as both of these can affect your ability to read and think under pressure.

Verbal Reasoning Video Tutorials

Word Swap

2 mins

True, False, Cannot Say

2 mins


3 mins


2 mins

English Language

2 mins

Find The New Word

2 mins

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