Verbal reasoning tests are a common form of aptitude test used by employers, since being able to comprehend written information is an important skill for most roles. You’re likely to come across a verbal reasoning test in job applications across a wide range of sectors, including law, engineering, retail, marketing, finance, consulting and the Civil Service.
Research has shown that people who score highly in these tests go on to perform well in the job for which they are applying. Employers continue to use aptitude tests in recruitment because they are an objective and fair way of assessing many candidates. Arguably, they can sometimes be better at predicting job performance than the traditional interview.
What are verbal reasoning test questions like?
The format of the verbal reasoning tests used by employers typically involves a passage of text and a series of statements relating to that passage. Your task is to decide if the statements are true, false, or if it is not possible to tell based on the information contained within the passage.
The most important thing to remember when taking a verbal reasoning test is that you should base your answers strictly on the information contained within the passage; do not make assumptions and do not draw on information that is not given in the passage. The best way to get a good understanding of verbal reasoning tests is to practise some yourself; there are lots available online.
With only three multiple choice options to choose from in verbal reasoning tests (true, false, and ‘cannot say’) it might be tempting to guess questions that you’re not sure about. This is not a good approach because your test results often show accuracy as well as the number of correct answers. The key is to work quickly, but also accurately.
Verbal comprehension tests are slightly different from verbal reasoning tests in that you have to use your understanding of the passage to answer questions on the content. For example, you might have to read a briefing note on various suppliers of machinery before being asked which one has the largest market share.
In order to predict how well candidates will perform in a work environment, verbal reasoning tests invariably involve a strong element of time pressure. The time limit for verbal reasoning tests means you have to work both quickly and accurately. A typical example of a verbal reasoning test involves answering 28 questions in 18 minutes; although this will vary depending on employer. Common publishers of verbal reasoning tests include: SHL, Saville Consulting, Cubiks, Talent Q and Criterion Partnership.
What to do when you are invited to take a verbal reasoning test…
The first thing you should do when you receive the email or letter inviting you to sit a verbal reasoning test is to study the information, note the date by which you have to complete it, take a look at any example materials included, and inform the employer of any disabilities you have, which may mean adjustments are required to make the test fair.
If example materials are not included, you can visit the test publisher’s website for candidate advice and sample questions. The test publisher being used can often be determined from clues such as the web address of the online test, or you can ask the employer.
Preparing for your verbal reasoning test…
The next thing to do before your verbal reasoning test is to practise. This will mean you are familiar with the test style and will mean you are more likely to perform to the best of your ability. Practice will also help you to develop your test-taking strategy, i.e. striking the balance between speed and accuracy. There are lots of practice tests available online.