How to pass SHL assessments - Tips and free practice

SHL assessments are among the most popular pre-employment assessment tools to evaluate candidates’ aptitudes and behaviors. Nevertheless, acing the SHL assessments to be in the top candidates can be quite a challenge to many test takers.

This article will guide you through effective strategies and tips to help you pass the SHL assessments.

What is SHL assessment?

SHL assessment is an online recruitment screening tool developed by Saville and Holdsworth Limited (SHL). It consists of a series of psychometric tests designed to evaluate test takers’ cognitive and behavioral qualities. The candidates often take the SHL tests after passing the CV screening round.

SHL assessment can be used to select candidates for various positions, levels, and industries. Some of the companies using SHL assessments are Microsoft, Heineken, Amazon, NHS, and Bayer.

Currently, SHL assessments provide two formats of the test, which are:

SHL Verify+ Standard Multiple-choice: Each test will consist of a series of questions with 4 to 5 given choices that the candidates can choose. Test-takers’ task is to select 1 to 2 correct answers.

SHL Verify+ Interactive: Each question in the test requires the test taker to answer the given question in an “interactive” form: drag and drop words/numbers/objects, match, fill in the blank with patterns, etc. 


Common tests in SHL assessments

SHL assessments consist of various psychometric tests to evaluate the candidates' cognitive aptitudes and workplace behaviors. Most employers using SHL assessments have two types of tests for evaluation: aptitude tests and personality & behavioral tests.

1. Aptitude tests evaluate test-takers’ cognitive abilities, including numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning. There are 4 common SHL aptitude tests:

  • SHL Verbal reasoning test assesses test takers' reading comprehension and verbal reasoning (making an inference) ability.
  • SHL Numerical reasoning test assesses test takers’ numerical calculation and interpretation ability.
  • SHL Deductive reasoning test assesses test takers’ deduction skill (make a specific conclusion based on a more general input).
  • SHL Inductive reasoning test assesses test takers' induction skill (identify logic patterns) and abstract reasoning ability.

2. Behavioral tests evaluate the test-takers' behavior and personality traits. These tests can help employers determine how suitable candidates are for the team and the company’s culture. There are two typical SHL behavioral tests:

  • Personality test helps identify the character and daily behaviors of the candidates to see if their personality traits fit with the team and company’s working culture.
  • Situational judgment test helps employers understand how a candidate behaves in working settings; therefore, they can see if the candidate’s working style is proper and suitable for the organization.

To understand the format of the SHL assessments, we have an introductory article about SHL assessments - you can get more insights here.


Scoring in the SHL assessment

There is a lot of confusion for the candidates new to the SHL assessment about its scoring system. Let’s look closely at how the SHL assessments score the participants.

Which scoring system do the SHL assessments use?

SHL assessments use a scoring system called percentile scoring for the aptitude test. Instead of scoring based only on how many correct answers you have, SHL assessments compare your scores with the candidates taking the same test, then determine how many percent of the candidates you score higher than.

For example, if you receive a 67% percentile score, your score is higher than 67% of the test takers taking the same SHL assessments as you.

What is the “passing score” of SHL assessments?

There is technically no such thing as called a “passing score”. However, the companies that use the SHL assessment often choose candidates with a 70% percentile score or higher since the SHL assessment is used to select the best candidates for the interviews. The candidates must ace the test to be in the group with a 70% percentile score or higher.

Are there any penalties for incorrect answers in SHL assessments?

The answer is NO. SHL assessments don’t give you any negative scores for your incorrect answers. Your score will be counted solely on how many correct answers you have.


How to pass SHL assessments - Preparation and practice guidance

SHL assessment is considered one of the recruitment's most challenging psychometric assessment tests due to the strict time limit and the complex questions. The most effective way to pass the SHL assessments is through thorough preparation and practice in advance. Here is a 3-step guide that you should do to prepare and practice for the SHL assessments.

  • Step 1: Research the company and which test you will take.
  • Step 2: Understand the question types and strategies of the test.
  • Step 3: Practice with mock tests (and learn from them).

Step 1. Research the company and which test you will take

Before jumping into the practice, the crucial foundation is finding out what SHL test and which format is used. Since each employer will adopt the SHL assessments differently and uses different tests in their online assessment - and for each test, you would need a different preparation.

In addition, It is essential to know what the company expects from its employees because each company presents different values and working cultures. You should align the company culture and values with your personality and working style.

Note: You can research the above information on the company’s official website and around the recruitment forum (Glassdoor, Reddit, Quora, etc.) or ask the current/former employees about the online assessment.

Step 2: Understand the question types and strategies of the test

It is crucial to understand the basic knowledge of aptitude tests (numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, and logical reasoning) - about common question types, strategies to solve them, and how to practice every kind of test. The SHL assessments evaluate multiple aspects of the candidates - and each test needs a different suitable approach.

For the behavioral tests, it is best to understand the format of the SHL behavioral tests to be familiar with them in the actual assessment. The SHL behavioral tests are not scored, meaning less pressure.

We have a series of free articles about each test in the SHL assessment; you can check them out.

Step 3: Practice with mock tests (and learn from them)

There is no better way to pass the SHL assessments than practicing the test until you ace it. After understanding the logic, question types, and strategies to solve them, you should apply them to your mock tests. There are two notes for you during your practice.

1. Practice with the time limit: Remember to finish the mock test within the actual time limit - this helps you get used to the pressure of real SHL assessments where the time limit is strict.

2. Revise the test after finishing: After your practice, you should carefully revise the mock test you’ve just taken - look at the incorrect answers and the questions you have to guess during the test. You should examine the answer guides, if any, then re-do those questions again.

3. Improve your speed after each practice: The questions in the SHL assessment can be ridiculously long. Try speeding reading techniques to read the questions faster and more accurately.

MConsultingPrep offers a solution - the All-Inclusive Aptitude Test Package - to help you better prepare and practice the SHL assessments. The package comes with:

  • A study guide with all the necessary strategies, tips & tricks.
  • Over 1000+ practice questions for numerical, verbal, deductive, and inductive reasoning tests from easy to advance.
  • Detailed step-by-step explanations for each question
  • Mock test setting with time limits

Tips before and during the SHL assessments

While taking the SHL assessments, candidates must pay attention to accuracy and time management. There are some tips for better controlling the time and accuracy of your SHL assessments.

Make sure everything is ready before the test

A stable internet connection, a well-functioned computer, calculators, pens, and papers - all of these must be checked and prepared in advance. You won’t want any malfunction that causes you to lose precious time or reduce your performance during your SHL assessments.

Use a calculator and mental math flexibly

SHL assessments allow the test takers to use a calculator, so you should take this advantage to get accurate results. Learn how to use the common models to solve the math question in the aptitude test

However, be flexible - sometimes doing mental math is faster and has the same accuracy. Practice your mental math skills to enhance calculation speed, saving time for your assessments - here is our video guide on how to ỉmpove your mental math skills.  

Be careful while solving the question

This sounds so simple, yet, under time pressure, the candidates can easily mess up - misreading the questions or miscalculating a math question. Use pen and paper to note down the keywords and the calculations.

Don’t spend too much time on one question

The SHL assessments have strict time limits. Remember, your goal is to get as many correct answers as possible. Spending too much time on a single question can risk you not going through the whole assessment. 

Make an educated guess

Try to have a guess based on the given information for the questions that you don’t know how or don’t have enough time to solve. You won’t be penalized for incorrect answers.

Be honest with your answer

For the behavioral tests, be honest and choose the answers aligning with yourself most rather than what is expected from you. Employers need to know how suitable you are for their organizations. Even if you try to “make up” different behaviors, they will still figure it out by comparing the SHL assessment results with what you demonstrate in the interview.


Free SHL-style aptitude tests

Currently, MConsultingPrep offers a set of free trials for the Aptitude Test, including Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Deductive Reasoning, and Inductive Reasoning Tests.

The free test comes with a complete test with actual time limits. After you finish, you will receive your score and know the correct and incorrect answers. Each question has a detailed explanation so you can learn from your practice. Check out the free aptitude test now!