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Verbal Reasoning Tests

28 September 2015 |


Firms typically use SHL or Watson Glaser verbal reasoning tests. Verbal reasoning tests usually involve clusters of 3 or 4 statements or questions that relate to a particular passage of text (from which you must ascertain the answer). SHL tests provide you with a statement that you must then analyse to decide, in light of the passage, whether it is objectively true (based only on the passage), objectively false or whether you "cannot say" either way as the passage has not provided a clear indication. These tests are designed to test your ability to evaluate arguments and statements based on your understanding of a written passage.


The tests generally require you to set aside any external knowledge you may have. This is important to remember! You are thus being tested solely on your ability to interpret text rather than your general knowledge.

I found it useful to begin by slowly and carefully reading the whole passage, then tackling each related statement. Whilst answering the first question will therefore take a relatively long time, you should be able to answer the other questions relating to the same passage more quickly. This is because you will know the section of the passage that the statement relates to and will therefore be able to skip sections of the passage that you recognise as being unrelated.

Beware; some passages start with a statement that may indicate the answer is "true", before later including a statement that determines that the actual answer is in fact "false" or "cannot say". If you simply look at the questions first, then read the passage until you think you have found the answer, you could easily be tricked into making a mistake. Reading the passage slowly and carefully will also ensure you do not overlook double negatives. These can also trip you up or mislead you if you are not really paying attention to each and every word.

Do not fall into the mindset that, because one particular answer has come up a few times in a row, the next answer must surely be something else. For all you know, you got one of the previous answers wrong. Stick with what you think is correct!


You can sometimes find practise versions of tests on firm websites. Alternatively, you can purchase practise tests from companies that have devised similar tests. Practising can help you to improve your ability to pace yourself, work at speed and familiarise yourself with the format of the tests.