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What is SHL?
SHL is a company that provides psychometric assessments which evaluate the numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, mechanical comprehension, and personality facets of potential employees. It publishes its tests in over 30 languages and is perhaps the most recognised assessment publisher globally.
SHL is renowned within the recruitment industry and highly regarded by most major employers. Its assessments aid employers in identifying candidates with high potential, across a variety of industries and experience levels.
SHL’s technology often integrates with employer platforms, thus presenting a more cost-effective and native testing solution than other providers might offer.
What is the SHL test?
SHL assessment, or SHL test, is a multiple-choice psychometric test focused on a particular set of skills. The SHL range of tests includes aptitude, personality, AMCAT and behavioural question types, and different tests are used depending on the employment level and role.
SHL devises its psychometric tests with occupational psychologists using scientific methodology, based on the aggregation of assessment and workplace data provided by employers. This allows them to target characteristics correlated with high work performance.
While SHL does offer a handful of free tests with practice questions on their website, the content of the assessments and your performance results are limited. On this website, you can take a comprehensive series of SHL practice test packages that include explained solutions and tips to help you improve.
Like most assessment providers, SHL’s tests range in difficulty level and skill set; see below for details and examples of the main test types.
You must understand which tests an employer has asked you to complete so that you can select the right practice package for you. The type of test you will face will typically be related to the job at hand.
Which employers use SHL tests?
Over 75% of FTSE 100 companies and almost half of Fortune Global 500 organisations use SHL in their hiring process, so you’re likely to encounter an SHL test if you’re applying for a variety of positions.
Because of its ability to offer valuable insight into a candidate’s personality – in addition to their skills – companies will put individuals to the test just to get an idea of their character.
However, you should particularly expect SHL tests in the selection process when applying for jobs that require specialised skills. Financial firms, managerial roles, and graduate jobs are examples where SHL aptitude tests are often used to find the right fit for a role.
Some companies might only take the top 15% of scorers further in the application process, while other recruiters might be looking for a broader range.
The different types of SHL aptitude tests and how they work
SHL provides numerical, verbal, inductive, deductive, mechanical, and numerous other ability tests. In addition to reporting an individual’s overall test score, SHL will also inform the employer of their speed and accuracy.
These tests are usually taken online. Below you can find specific information for the most popular SHL test types.
SHL numerical reasoning tests
SHL numerical reasoning tests require a candidate to solve realistic numerical problems, aligned to the company’s role specifications. To pass a numerical reasoning test, you must be able to understand and work with graphical, statistical, and financial data.
Example numerical question:
What was the average absolute percentage change in the value of the USD vs the CHF from 2020 to 2022 and 2024 to 2025?
- A) 13%
- B) 15%
- C) 21%
- D) 16%
- E) 27%
Solution: Calculate the % change in the value of the USD between the two periods:
(1.60 - 1.32) ÷ 1.32 = - 21.21%
(1.54 - 1.61) ÷ 1.61 = + 4.35%
Average % change = (21.21 + 4.35) ÷ 2 = 12.78%, so the answer is A).
SHL verbal reasoning tests
SHL verbal reasoning tests assess your text comprehension and logical deduction skills. They typically provide a candidate with written information to digest and draw conclusions from. Typically, you will have to choose an option between ‘true’, ‘false’, or ‘cannot say’, based on the text given.
Example verbal question:
Statement: ‘Don’t just buy art for the sake of it’ is the message given by most antique experts.
- A) True
- B) False
- C) Cannot Tell
Solution: True – this is the “overriding advice” of “most” experts. So A) is correct.
SHL inductive reasoning tests
Inductive reasoning tests require a candidate to notice similarities and underlying patterns between shapes and figures. For example, an inductive test may present you with a series of shapes and you will have to choose which image will come next, based on reasonable probability.
Example inductive question:
Complete the sequence:
Solution: The outer circle is turning in an anti-clockwise direction and the inner circle is rotating 90 degrees in a clockwise direction. So B) is correct.
SHL deductive reasoning tests
Deductive reasoning tests ask you to complete scenarios based on incomplete information. These tests assess both your ability to choose the right answer and how quickly you do it. To learn more, you can take a look at Kenexa tests, one of the most popular test providers for deductive reasoning tests.
Example deductive question:
Question: Who can you infer is most likely to have taken the lemon cake?
- A) Maggie
- B) Susan
- C) Mark
Solution: Given what we have learned, it is reasonable to assume that Mark is the culprit. The facts about Maggie and Susan might help in forming a deductive argument, however, in this context they are inconsequential. Mark’s pattern of behaviour suggests he is guilty. So C) is correct.
SHL general ability tests
General ability tests cover a wider range of skills and cognitive concepts, like learning capacity and problem-solving. They can be numerical or verbal, depending on the type of job you’re applying for, and they aim to assess a candidate without any bias.
SHL mechanical reasoning tests
You will most likely encounter mechanical reasoning tests when applying for specialised skilled jobs. They evaluate an individual’s mechanical and electronic knowledge through a series of multiple-choice questions based on topics such as levers, tools, gears, electric circuits, and more.
Example mechanical question:
What force needs to be applied to the lever to lift the weight?
- A) 18.8kg
- B) 19.0kg
- C) 19.2kg
- D) 19.4kg
Solution: The formula to calculate the force required to lift a weight using a lever is:
w x d1 = f x d2
w = weight d1 = distance from fulcrum to weight f = force needed to lift the weight d2 = distance from the fulcrum to the point where force is applied
If we plug what we can see from the diagram into the formula we are left with the following equation:
12 x 24 = ? x 15 288 = ? x 15 288 / 15 = 19.2
So C) is correct.
SHL reading comprehension tests
Similar to verbal reasoning tests, reading comprehension tests take notice of the time it takes a candidate to read and understand a text. The test will present you with a written paragraph related to the job role you’re applying for and will ask you multiple-choice questions to determine your level of comprehension skills.
Example reading comprehension question:
Statement: To try and get your customer to like you more, you are advised to:
- A) Ask them about their family
- B) Spend as long as you can dealing with their issue
- C) Achieve as many of your own goals as you can
- D) Find something you might have in common with them
Solution: Whilst answers A) to C) all seem fairly sensible, only answer D) is provided as an instruction in the final paragraph…’It can be useful to find some common ground with your customers. Having this level of interaction can help to humanize the relationship and will endear you to the customer.’
Being endeared to the customer means they will like you more and finding some common ground is the same as finding something you have in common with them.
SHL calculation tests
Calculation tests feature mathematical questions assessing your ability to sum, subtract, divide and multiply numbers quickly and correctly. The main difficulty is doing it promptly — learning a few tricks to solve mathematical problems faster is key to acing these tests.
Example calculation question:
Which Agent had the highest First Call Resolution?
- A) Agent A
- B) Agent B
- C) Agent C
- D) Agent D
Solution: This question simply requires you to look across the four Agents’ First Call Resolution figures and to select the highest, which is D).
SHL personality and behavioural tests
As the name suggests, personality and behavioural tests aim to get an idea of a candidate’s character and temperament. They are most commonly used in customer-facing jobs or roles that are more team-oriented.
When taking one of these tests, it’s important to understand what personal skills the company values and how to best demonstrate your ability to work with other people.
Two main types of tests fall into this category:
Personality Test. Considered another form of psychometric test, personality tests aim to produce a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s main personality traits. An employer will use personality tests to make sure a salesperson will be confident and assertive enough, for example, or a creative person curious enough. If taking one of these tests, learn what to expect from them, and take some free practice tests.
Situational Judgement Test. When dealing with colleagues or customers, you’re likely to encounter difficult situations to resolve. Situational judgement tests give you typical scenarios related to your role and ask you to find a solution. Because they’re multiple-choice questions, they can be particularly tricky: make sure to learn more about them and practice enough before taking the exam.
SHL Personnel Test Battery
Personnel Test Battery (or PTB) is a specific set of aptitude tests used by companies hiring administrative or clerical staff. They’re adaptable to the employer’s specific needs, which makes them ideal to assess both a candidate’s ability to take on the role and what their talents are best suited for.
PTB includes verbal reasoning tests, numerical reasoning tests and clerical checking tests. While the first two are typical of psychometric tests, clerical tests aim to assess a candidate’s ability to understand and process numbers and correspondence, as well as proofreading, data checking, and handling multiple sources of information and filing them correctly.
SHL graduate and managerial tests
As you’d expect, these are used to assess candidates applying for jobs at managerial and graduate levels.
Although they comprise the same types of SHL tests we’ve previously covered, they use business-related verbal and numerical tasks and come in two formats:
Verify tests , which are completed online and typically sent via email by the employer. They are unsupervised but usually followed up with a shorter, supervised version at an assessment centre. They often include a numerical and verbal reasoning test, with the addition of an inductive, deductive, and spatial reasoning test.
Management and Graduate Item Bank tests , which are supervised and taken at an assessment centre.
SHL Managerial and Graduate Tests use two particular test types most often:
Verbal Critical Reasoning Tests. Similar to verbal reasoning tests, you will be given a written paragraph to thoroughly read and understand. Your job is to evaluate the logic of an argument present in the text, answering true, false, or cannot say questions.
Numerical Critical Reasoning Tests. Presented with tables and graphs, you will be asked to work with relevant data by choosing the correct answer to a multiple-choice question. To pass numerical critical reasoning tests, you must be able to understand numerical data and make decisions based on it.