Avia Author

Avia, SHL Test specialist at JobTestPrep.

Have a question? Contact me at: ask_the_team@jobtestprep.co.uk


What Is the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test?

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is a graduate-level and above assessment that measures your ability to comprehend written information and to evaluate arguments about it. The information is given in the form of short passages, followed by statements with three possible answer - true, false or cannot say, also known as TFC.

Don’t have time to read? Watch this short video to see the exam’s highlights:

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Why Are the SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests Difficult to Pass?

Candidates who take the SHL Verbal tests usually face three main difficulties that may cause them to lose marks:

  1. Tight time limits - there are 30 questions to be answered in 19 questions. Meaning, you have about 40 seconds per question.
  2. Failing to stick only to what’s given in the passage and jumping to conclusions based on your own knowledge.
  3. If English is your second language, you might find this test more challenging, as the texts are not easily digestible and include advanced-level words.

Let’s see an example for a Verbal Reasoning question that resembles the actual’s test format and difficulty level:

Manufacturing capability in Asian economies has developed immensely in its refinement, but it remains an extremely multifaceted process subject to everlasting room for improvement. The most important initiative has been the implementation of ISO 9000 standards that have been utilised as quality regulators and error minimisation mechanisms. Nevertheless, the profound emphasis given to refinement results in increased costs approaching those of Western manufacturers which raises questions as to their feasibility.

Implementing ISO 9000 standards has led to a reduced number of errors.

The statement following the passage is:

1. True
2. False
3. Cannot Say

Answer and explanation:

The correct answer is Cannot Say.

We know that ISO 9000 standards have been utilised as an error minimisation mechanism but we do not know if it actually succeeded in reducing the number of errors.

What Question Types to Expect on the Test?

The test comes in two versions named CEB SHL Verbal Reasoning Test and SHL Verify Verbal Reasoning Test.

While the CEB version is the older one, they both include the exact same question types (TFC), time limits, and number of questions. So, it doesn’t really matter which one you get.


Let’s get to know the True/False/Cannot Say questions better:

  • A TRUE statement follows logically from the information or opinions contained in the passage.
  • A FALSE statement is logically false from the information or opinions contained in the passage.
  • Select CANNOT SAY if you cannot determine whether the statement is true or false based on the information given in the text.

Want to put it into practice? Try the following TFC sample question:

A dependable state of peace between two populaces sharing the same region does not imply that the average life expectancy of humans will remain constant. On the other hand, epidemics and natural disasters and unstable weather, particularly in response to the 'greenhouse effect' and the subsequent cooling and warming of affected regions, generate oscillations in mean life expectancy and lead populations to increase or decrease their average age.

Natural disasters are the indisputable cause of life expectancy oscillations.

The statement following the passage is:

1. True
2. False
3. Cannot say

Answer and explanation:

The correct answer is False.

According to the text, epidemics, natural disasters, and unstable weather are all responsible for oscillations in mean life expectancy. Therefore, this is not a unique attribute of natural disasters.

There is a difference between stating "an indisputable cause" and "the indisputable cause". The first option implies that it is one factor among a few that affects mean life expectancy, while the second option implies a unique attribute. Also, the word "indisputable" serves as another distracter, making us focus on the adjective, while it is not the main issue here.

Looking for additional sample questions? Give our free SHL-style Verbal Reasoning test a go.

How to Pass the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test?

The best way to increase your chances of passing the test is by practising beforehand.

Practising will help you get used to quickly reading and analysing the advanced-level texts that appear on the test (under immense time pressure).

Also, you’ll get comfortable with the concept of relying only on what’s given in the text, while ignoring your own knowledge (even if the facts in the passage are wrong).

This ensures that nothing will catch you by surprise and that you’ll know how to manage your time well while avoiding simple mistakes.


Today there are only three accurate practice options for the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test:

Why Relying Only on SHL Direct’s Practice Is Not a Good Idea?

SHL Direct, the official SHL practice site, is usually the first practice option that candidates see, as it’s attached to the assessment invitation email.

It includes a few sample questions (with no solutions) and a practice test. However, if you’re planning to rely only on this practice option, you’re going to face three immediate problems:

  1. The time limit and difficulty level of the practice test do not simulate the real test (SHL even mentions that the difficulty level is different). So, you can’t really count on that to predict how well you’ll perform on the real test.
  2. The score report you get at the end is practically useless as it only tells you how many questions you got right or wrong, without mentioning which ones they are.
  3. You get zero feedback, explanations or tips on what to do next to improve your skills. This means that you’re unable to learn how to answer the questions correctly nor understand why you answered some questions wrong.

Sounds annoying, right?

Now, if you’re looking for a practice plan that mirrors the actual test’s format and structure and shows you proven solving techniques for TFC questions, the next option is for you.

JobTestPrep’s SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice Tests

JobTestPrep is currently the only test prep company that offers thorough practice for SHL’s interactive test version. During the past 7 years, we've prepared more than 24,000 candidates for their SHL Assessments! We constantly update our PrepPacks to provide the most accurate prep.

Our PrepPack includes:

✔ Dozens of SHL-style Verbal practice tests covering all three test versions.

Step-by-step solutions for every practice question, ensuring you understand the logic behind every question and that you’ll know how to answer them on the real test.

Realistic difficulty levels and time limits so you’ll get used to the actual tests’ conditions and their tight time limits.

Extra practice drills to give you an additional boost and ensure that you won’t only pass the test, but also get to the highest percentiles.

SHL’s Verbal Reasoning Test Scores Explained

The SHL verbal reasoning test scores are comparative. Meaning, they’re compared to a group of candidates who share similar educational backgrounds and took the test in the past.

Then, these comparative scores are transformed into a percentile result, which the employer uses to understand where you rank compared to that group.

So, if you’re in the 70th percentile, for example, it means you scored higher than 70% of the people in that group of test-takers.

Makes sense?

Now, you might be wondering what the SHL verbal reasoning test pass mark or average score is, to know what score to aim for.

In reality, SHL doesn’t reveal its pass marks or average scores, and they differ between positions and employers.

That said, we know from our experience that scoring in the 80th percentile should be more than enough to pass the test.

Here’s an example of an SHL feedback report that some candidates receive after completing the test. It breaks down your score into grades and percentiles and shows its meaning:

Grade Meaning Percentile
A Well above average 90-100
B Above average 70-89
C Average 30-69
D Below average 10-29
E Well below average 0-9

Read more about the SHL test results and how to interpret them here >>

7 Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Master the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

  1. Remember that your general knowledge and opinions do not matter.
    The questions must be answered based solely on the information presented in the text. A good way to bypass your bias would be to imagine the phrase 'according to the passage’ before each statement.

  2. Look out for generalisations.
    Generalising is taking an idea stated in the text and making a 'general rule' from it.

    For example, if the passage discusses how some lawyers quit their jobs because they are unhappy, and the statement reads ‘lawyers quit their jobs because they are unhappy’, the answer would be ‘Cannot Say’;

    This is because of the way the statement generalises all lawyers, but the passage only discussed ‘some’ of them.

  3. Don’t add details.
    This is the opposite of making generalisations. You should avoid taking general statements and basing specific ideas on them.

    For example, if the passage discussed lawyers who quit their jobs because they were unhappy, and the statement reads ‘the lawyers who quit their jobs were unhappy because of the long hours’, the correct answer would be ‘Cannot Say’.

    While it makes sense to assume the statement is true, the passage did not provide you with those details. It is possible that those lawyers had no problem with the long hours but with some other issue. Workload, for instance.

  4. Do not assume causation.
    Two statements that appear in the text are not necessarily related to each other in a cause-and-effect relationship. This is a common way to trick you into choosing ‘True’ over ‘Cannot Say’.

    For example, a passage may discuss how some lawyers are unhappy, and some quit their jobs, but never explicitly make the cause-and-effect connection. If the statement then reads ‘some lawyers quit their jobs because they are unhappy’, the answer would be ‘Cannot Say’.

  5. Pay attention to relationship keywords.
    In TFC questions, the relationships between text parts are often more important than the content itself. These words may refer to exclusion, inclusion, negation, etc.

  6. Qualifiers are important.
    In the same way as relationship keywords, qualifiers tell you a lot about the context of the statement in the text. For instance, they can reveal whether generalisations can be made (all/none, always/never) or not (few/some, many/most).

  7. SHL only counts your correct answers.
    No penalties are given for wrong answers (unless the test instructions mention that). So, it’s crucial that you do not leave any questions unanswered. If you don’t know the answer, take an educated guess!


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