How to Pass SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests (Free Practice Tests)

SHL is a dominant provider of verbal reasoning tests, usually at graduate level or above. SHL verbal reasoning tests typically are one part of a large series of tests implemented by the recruiter to measure candidates’ skills and suitability for a specific position.

This article will cover everything related to these tests and offer free mock tests for practice to pass SHL verbal reasoning tests without any hassle.

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Verbal Reasoning Tests

What is the SHL verbal reasoning test?

SHL verbal reasoning test is a graduate-level and above assessment that evaluates your ability to interpret written information and assess arguments about it. The written information is presented in a 100-250 word passage, and your task is to:

  • Determine whether a series of statements are True, False, or Cannot Say (Verbal reasoning format)

Source: SHL

  • Answer multiple-choice questions (Reading comprehension format) 

Source: SHL

In the SHL verbal reasoning test, it’s essential for candidates to base their answers on the given text only. They must not apply any information or knowledge outside the test to handle the questions.

What job roles do employers use verbal reasoning tests for? 

Verbal reasoning skills are really important when it comes to any role that involves comprehending and analyzing written information to make decisions. Hence, you’re likely to find a verbal reasoning test in job applications across various sectors like law, retail, marketing, finance, consulting, engineering, and the public sector.

Where do SHL verbal reasoning tests take place? 

SHL verbal reasoning tests are typically taken on a computer. These tests can be taken place online or offline, depending on the requirements of employers. Online versions can be taken supervised at the employer’s office, or they will be unsupervised where the applicants can choose where and when they take the test.

What does the SHL Verify system mean? 

SHL designs all the tests (including verbal reasoning tests) on the SHL Verify system, which helps increase test security significantly.

SHL Verify verbal reasoning tests randomly take questions from a huge bank of verbal questions of equivalent difficulty. That method mitigates the chance of piracy and the risks of candidates cheating.

Moreover, SHL also boosts test security by leveraging independent test security specialists to consider test response patterns and other indicators. The Verify system gives a follow-up test to applicants who did a verbal reasoning test unsupervised. Recruiters can confirm whether the candidate arriving at their office is the same person who performed the online test.


How hard is the SHL verbal reasoning test?

In general, SHL verbal reasoning tests are relatively difficult to test takers because of the following three factors:

  • Strict time constraints 
  • Scanning skills required 
  • High-level vocabulary 

SHL verbal reasoning tests are strictly timed 

SHL verbal reasoning tests are presented in 2 different formats with strict time constraints:

Format of SHL Verbal Reasoning Test Type of Question Number of Questions Time Limit Time Per Question Number of Passage
Reading comprehension Multiple-choice questions 18 questions 10 minutes 33 seconds 18 different passages (A passage contains 1 question)
Verbal reasoning
(Make inferences)
True/ False/ Cannot Say 30 questions 19 minutes 38 seconds 15 different passages (A passage contains 2 questions)

Candidates only have about 33 seconds to complete a reading comprehension question and 38 seconds for a verbal reasoning question on average. If test takers don’t manage time properly, they might not have enough time to finish all the questions. One important note is that candidates cannot come back to the previous questions – once they pass through one question, they no longer change their answer.

SHL verbal reasoning tests require excellent scanning skills 

In the reading comprehension format, you only have 10 minutes for 18 questions (18 different passages). Candidates need to scan for information in the given text to answer the questions. With about 33 seconds per question on average, they have to scan the passage quickly to find the necessary information.

Below’s an example of a reading comprehension question in the SHL verbal reasoning test: 

Source: SHL

Answer: Though the panels of citizens


The keywords of the questions are “make suggestions” and “citizens”. Then you need to scan the passage to locate “make suggestions” and “citizens” or words/phrases that have the same meaning as them.

And the last sentence says, “They then make recommendations for improving customer service and refer taxpayers to the appropriate tax office for assistance.”

“Make suggestions” = “Make recommendation”

Now you need to find who “they” are. 

Panels of citizens were brought together in 1997 in an attempt to reinvent the tax agency. Each panel is composed of volunteers and a local taxpayer advocate. Members are chosen from a diverse cross section of the population. They serve either a two or three-year term. The groups hold public meetings and monitor how effectively the tax agency provides customer service and handles complaints. They gather citizen input and identify and evaluate problems. They then make recommendations for improving customer service and refer taxpayers to the appropriate tax office for assistance.”

Source: SHL

All the highlighted words point to the same subject “panel of citizens”. Therefore, panels of citizens are the ones that make suggestions to the tax agency. At the same time, the citizen provides input for the panels of citizens to do so (based on the 6th sentence of the passage).

In conclusion, the answer would be “Through the panel of citizens”.

SHL verbal reasoning tests use C1-level vocabulary 

In addition to SHL’s strict time limit and scanning requirements, the high-level vocabulary does take candidates’ every effort to pass them. The majority of SHL verbal reasoning tests use C1-level vocabulary – the passages are not easily understandable and contain advanced-level words.

Besides, as mentioned earlier, you should expect a lot of paraphrases in the verbal reasoning questions. So if English is your second language or you don’t have an extensive vocabulary, you might find these tests more strenuous.

Here’s an example of a C1-level passage in the SHL verbal reasoning test.

A report from a prestigious university has urged the world’s richest countries to consider the precarious position of bird species from around the world. The study suggests that acting now could ensure the survival of 400 to 900 species of land birds that are at risk because of the action of humans. The report pays particular attention to the dangers faced by those species which are highly specialized and may not be able to adapt to changes in their environment. Richer countries currently have little awareness of the dangers faced by bird species around the world and tend to concentrate on the preservation of local species instead.

Source: SHL


What is a good score on SHL verbal reasoning tests?

A good score does not exist. A “safe” percentile rank to pass SHL verbal reasoning tests should be at least 75 – your score is higher than 75% of other candidates in the same test.

Your passing SHL verbal reasoning tests will depend on two factors:

  • The number of people taking the test with you
  • The number of people that the employers decide to hire 

The scores of SHL verbal reasoning tests are comparative – they are compared to a group of people who took the same test. These comparative scores are converted into a percentile result, which shows where you rank compared to the group.

Here’s what an SHL feedback report will look like. The report breaks down your score into percentiles and grades and presents its meaning. 

Note: SHL has no penalty for incorrect answers, ONLY counts correct answers. Make an educated guess if you are not sure about an answer.


How to pass SHL verbal reasoning tests?

The most effective way to increase your possibility of passing SHL verbal reasoning tests is to practice in advance.

Practicing makes you become familiar with digesting and interpreting the advanced-level texts on the tests under severe time constraints. Besides, you’ll get used to the concept of basing only on what’s provided in the passage while neglecting your own knowledge (even if the facts in the text are wrong). That makes sure you won’t be overwhelmed and know how to manage time properly to survive the real tests.

Our verbal reasoning mock tests provide a wide range of questions with a difficulty level from medium to hard, including the following criteria: 

  • The length of the text
  • Time per question
  • Language level

As you can see, our mock tests are the optimal solution to help you pass SHL verbal reasoning tests smoothly.

  • SHL tests are strictly timed => Our verbal reasoning tests allow 30-60 seconds for each question, depending on the difficulty level, from medium to hard. 
  • SHL tests require great scanning skills => Our requirement to scan for 1-6 details varies based on the difficulty level, from medium to hard.
  • SHL tests cover C1-level language => Our verbal reasoning tests require a language level from B1 to C2

These verbal reasoning tests help you GRADUALLY get used to different types of questions, improve scanning skills, and enrich your vocabulary. Moreover, our mock tests come with detailed explanations for each answer, helping you deeply understand the approach to the right answers.

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