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verbal reasoning tests

Verbal Reasoning Tests

  • 45 tests
  • 675 questions
Verbal Reasoning Tests

Verbal reasoning tests assess your understanding and comprehension skills. You will be presented with a short passage of text, which you’ll be required to interpret and then answer questions on. These are typically in the ‘True, False, Cannot Say’ multiple-choice format, although there are a range of alternatives too.

What is a verbal reasoning test?

Verbal reasoning tests are psychometric tests that assess your ability to make deductions from passages of text. They evaluate your understanding of language and level of verbal comprehension and logic, as well as your dexterity when it comes to filtering out key information from a bulk of text.

Candidates are usually presented with a written passage followed by a series of statements. Typically you must decide whether, based purely on what’s in the text, the statement is true, false or that you cannot say.

Depending on the role you are applying for, questions may range from basic reading comprehension to more advanced reasoning. There are also a number of different test providers used by recruiters, offering a range of verbal reasoning assessments for different industries and job levels. We will look at these in more detail later in this article.

Why do employers use verbal reasoning tests?

Verbal reasoning tests are an effective way to reveal a candidate’s language and comprehension skills, and their ability to apply reasoning and logic.

These are key in any working environment, which is why verbal reasoning tests are so popular with employers in a wide range of industries – even those you might not think require strong verbal skills.

Many employers also regard verbal reasoning tests as more fair than other types of assessment, such as an unstructured interview. This is because all candidates face questions of a similar level of difficulty and their tests are scored objectively.

So verbal reasoning tests may help to provide a more level playing field for applicants from all backgrounds. However, a verbal reasoning test is likely only to form one part of a wider selection process, and your performance in all areas will be taken into consideration by the employer.

How do verbal reasoning tests work? What skills are required?

There are two main formats of verbal reasoning tests:

Verbal critical reasoning – these test your ability to apply logic by confirming whether a given statement is verified by the text provided.

Reading comprehension – these assess your ability to digest written information and then use the information provided to answer questions quickly and accurately.

The most common form is the true/false/cannot say test, where you are required to read some text and then determine whether the statement that follows is true, false or impossible to say based on the information provided.

Other forms of verbal reasoning tests you may encounter are:

Explicit multiple choice – here the answer to questions will be explicitly stated in the text. For example ‘Who said..?’ or ‘How many..?’

Implicit multiple choice – here the answer will not be explicitly stated but can be inferred from details provided in the text. For example ‘What made the employee decide to…?’; or ‘What caused…?’

Meta multiple choice – here the answer does not refer to details specifically given in the text but requires the candidate to answer broader questions such as ‘What can we conclude from…?’ or ‘Which statement would weaken the argument..?’

Regardless of the format of the test, you will need to read text, interpret information and decide on the most logical conclusion. It is important to remember that no previous knowledge of the passage topic is required, so make your decisions based solely on the information you’re given.

As well as or instead of verbal reasoning tests, you may also be asked to take a verbal test assessing your language and literacy skills. This could include:

Grammar and spelling – checking your knowledge of correct spelling and grammar. These might include questions such as find the new word and word swap (for more on those, check out the videos at the bottom of this article).

Vocabulary – testing the range of your vocabulary and your ability to identify correctly how ideas are related. This is usually in the form of synonyms or antonyms (words which have the same or opposite meaning to another).

Word analogy - testing your ability to find the relationship between a pair of words. Examples of word analogy questions can be found here.

How best to prepare for a verbal reasoning test

The best way to perform well in a verbal reasoning test is to make sure you are familiar with the format and have done plenty of practice before you sit the test. Practice questions will help you to identify your weaknesses and develop your own methods for success.

If you’d like to practice online, you can start with our verbal reasoning test questions and answers. Or download our verbal reasoning test pdf if you’d prefer to work offline.

During your practice, make a note of your most common mistakes or the aspects you struggle most with, and then focus on improving your performance in these areas. And be sure to take the practice tests under timed conditions – speed as well as accuracy will be crucial when it comes to the real thing.

Try to find out which test provider the recruiter will be using (see next section), and the type of test you will be sitting. You should then be able to visit the provider’s website to find more information and possibly try a few example questions.

Also check out our article How to prepare for a verbal reasoning test for more advice on getting ready for your assessment, as well as our Tips and tricks article for verbal reasoning tests.

Common verbal test providers

Below are some of the most widely used verbal reasoning test providers. These are the ones you are most likely to come across, though check with the employer first if you can.

Some will have their own bespoke tests, tailored to situations the candidate will encounter in the role.

SHL Verify Ability Test

SHL is probably the most popular test publisher. SHL verbal reasoning tests typically have a time limit of 17 to 19 minutes and cover various difficulty levels, often including reports and documents. You can try some practice questions here.

Criterion Utopia Verbal Reasoning Test

The questions in this high-level verbal reasoning test – aimed at managers and graduates – get more difficult as the test progresses. You will have 30 minutes to answer 40 questions.

Talent Q Elements Verbal Ability

These tests are adaptive, which means the difficulty level is automatically adjusted according to your performance in the previous questions. There is typically a time limit of 90 seconds per question. You can try out a practice test here.

Cubiks Logiks Verbal Ability Test

The Logiks tests have two levels: intermediate and advanced. In the intermediate test, you have to answer 24 questions in 4 minutes (only 10 seconds per question; but the difficulty is low). In the advanced test, you have 25 minutes to answer 36 questions. You can try some sample questions here.

Kenexa/PSL Advance Verbal Reasoning Test

There are two levels to this test: general ability, which has an 18-minute time limit for 24 questions, and graduate/managerial, which has a 25-minute time limit for 32 questions. More on Kenexa tests here.

Prepare yourself for leading employers

Free example verbal reasoning questions

Below are some example questions for the types of test you may encounter. Answers to each are below the questions.

Verbal critical reasoning

practice verbal reasoning questions

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

practice verbal reasoning questions

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

practice verbal reasoning questions

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

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

Answers

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 verbal reasoning tests difficult?

While the difficulty level varies from test to test, candidates struggle most when they are unfamiliar with the format and have not prepared thoroughly. You will find the test much easier if you have checked what to expect and practised beforehand.

What do verbal reasoning tests measure?

Verbal reasoning tests measure how well a person can process and interpret information. By giving correct answers, test-takers show how well and fast they can filter information. Such skills are crucial for many white-collar jobs nowadays.

Do I need to be a fast reader?

Being able to read quickly will help, but it’s more important that you can understand the information in front of you and draw logical conclusions from the facts. The assessor can check how many questions you attempted, and how many of these you answered correctly. So you need to find a balance between racing through the questions and giving accurate responses to those you attempt.

What is the pass score for verbal reasoning tests?

After completing your test, you’ll be presented with your raw score as well as your percentile. The percentile shows you how you performed compared to others taking the test. So if you are placed in the 90th percentile you have performed well above average. while if you fall in the 30th percentile your performance was only average. Your aim is to outperform other candidates, rather than simply ‘passing’ the test.

Where can I practice verbal reasoning tests?

The best way to become familiar with verbal reasoning is through regular practice. Our website provides all the most popular types of verbal reasoning tests for you to practise. The major verbal reasoning publishers usually offer free sample tests too, including Cubiks, Kenexa, Cut-e, Korn Ferry and SHL.

How should I answer verbal reasoning tests?

You should make decisions based on the information provided, not your own expertise. The objective of verbal reasoning tests is to reveal your skills, not check your knowledge. If it’s neither true or false, it can be ‘hard to say’. While it is often tempting to strive for black and white answers to complex or troubling questions, that might not be the right approach.

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Verbal Reasoning Tests Tips

1Rely on the facts alone

Remember that you are not expected to have any prior knowledge and all the information you need will be included in the text, either explicitly or implicitly. Do not try to assume anything that cannot be supported by the information provided. In the case of true, false or cannot say questions, if you are having trouble deciding whether or not the statement is supported by the text, it is most likely that the answer is ‘cannot say’.

2One question = one minute rule

Make sure you understand how many questions you will have to answer and how long you have to complete the test. Usually, verbal reasoning tests consist of 15 to 20 questions and don’t last longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Also note that while some tests have a number of questions per passage of prose, others have a new one for each.

3Go with the flow

Don’t get stuck on one question, as easier ones may follow. It’s as important to stick to timings as it is to get a right answer. Some assessments allow you to review or amend answers at the end. If you finish early, go back and look again at the questions you flagged earlier.

4Learn from your mistakes

Focus on reviewing the questions you got wrong at the end of each practice verbal reasoning test. Read the solutions and try to understand why you have answered incorrectly. You will learn more from your errors than from the answers you got right.

5Practise under exam conditions

This means completing practice tests in one sitting and to time. Do not practise in an environment where you are easily distracted and not fully engaged. This will maximise the efficiency of your preparation time and help you to accurately track your progress.

6Be competitive

Try to measure your achievements against other users to make sure you stand out in a crowd. The average results might help you get to the next stage, but may not be enough to secure the job. Preparation can be tedious and stressful, but think of this time as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.

7Ask questions

On the day, make sure you are clear on what you need to do. If you are taking the test at an assessment centre, the administrator will explain the instructions and you will usually have the opportunity to try one or two example questions first. Raise any issues at this point, as you won’t be able to ask questions once the test has begun for real.

Verbal Reasoning Video Tutorials

Word Swap

2 mins

True, False, Cannot Say

2 mins

Grammar

3 mins

Find the New Word

2 mins

English Language

2 mins

Analogies

2 mins

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