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What Are SHL Tests?

SHL (CEB) is one of the largest test providers in the UK and worldwide. For example, in the UK, approximately 25% of our customers reported that their test provider is SHL. Thus, the following 6 companies constitute about 50% of our sales. They are PwC, McKinsey, EIB, Amazon, HSBC and Morgan Stanley.

Although SHL offers a vast selection of tests on multiple categories, you will likely go through both cognitive ability tests and behavioural tests. Cognitive ability tests include skill and ability tests such numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.


SHL Ability Tests: Measuring your Talent in Specific Problem-Solving Skills

SHL psychometric tests, commonly known as verify tests, are online talent measurement tests designed to measure specific problem-solving abilities in 8 areas that are considered necessary for certain jobs. They include numerical, verbal, inductive, deductive, calculation, mechanical, checking and general ability.

According to SHL's official website, verify tests are designed to 'identify the candidates with the right abilities and potential to succeed in the role'.

Note: Verify tests are based on multiple-choice questions


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Any amount of practice can go a long way in improving your overall score and landing your dream job. Start getting better with our free test samples.

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SHL Sample Questions & Solving Tips

In the next series of paragraphs, you will sample numerical, verbal, inductive, behavioural and SJT tests. Each of these subjects have been broken down to give you a better feel of each one, allowing you to more easily comprehend what is needed to pass your exam.

The full extent of our preparation material (mock tests, video tutorials and in-depth study guides) is available here.

SHL Numerical Reasoning Sample: Tables and Graphs

Numerical reasoning tests assess your ability to calculate, interpret and draw conclusions from maths data.

Oftentimes in the SHL numerical test, you will encounter maths equations in the form of tables and graphs similar to the one you previously solved. Frequently, questions will circulate around time change. Your task is to calculate, examine and interpret the changes presented in the question.


A few things to note:

1. Depending on the specific assessment, calculators may or may not be used. Thus, be ready for either case.

2. The number of questions and solving time for SHL numerical tests vary depending on your position.

3. SHL also administers tests geared specifically towards calculation abilities.


Try it:

Share Sales and Dividend

In the first half of the year, what was the total cost of buying 450 HPQ shares at their highest price and a fifth of this amount of DELL shares at their lowest price?

  1. £8,730
  2. £11,880
  3. £12,300
  4. £17,730
  5. £12,330

The correct answer is (E) £12,330

According to the table, the highest price of HPQ shares in the first half of the year

(i.e. between Jan-June) was £25.
Thus, the cost of 450 HPQ shares was: 25 x 450 = £11,250.

According to the table, the lowest price of DELL shares in the first half of the year

(i.e. between Jan-June) was £12.
The question specifies that the number of DELL shares bought was 1/5 of the number of HPQ shares (=450).

Hence, the number of DELL shares bought was: 450 x 1/5 = 90 shares.
Thus, the cost of DELL shares was: 12 x 90 = £1,080.

Therefore, the total cost of the transaction was: 11,250 + 1,080 = £12,330


Visit our SHL numerical test page for more in-depth examples and preparation tips.

SHL Verbal Reasoning Sample: True, False & Cannot Say


Verbal reasoning tests assess your ability to understand, analyse and properly use language. The SHL verbal test will be presented to you with a paragraph. You will then be asked to determine the validity of statements based upon it. These tests are commonly known as TFC (true/false/cannot say) tests.


  • 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.

Companies wishing to increase their growth rate occasionally employed the method of franchising, which provides a new owner with a permit to use their business identity, and in return, they purchase products exclusively from the company. However, today, most companies aim to minimise the use of this method and often prefer expansion of the companies' own branches. Companies that have used franchising have learnt the necessity of monitoring the business operation of the franchised branch. Inadequate attention to the monitoring of franchises on the part of the companies was typically the cause of sundry problems. Difficulties arose from franchisees and companies disagreeing on business policies such as customer care, service delivery efficiency, and quality of human interaction.


Thus, overseeing the compnay's fanchises is required to minimise various difficulties.


A) True          B) False          C) Cannot Say

The correct answer is true.

The passage states, 'Companies that have used franchising have learnt the necessity of monitoring the business operation of the franchised branch. Inadequate attention to the monitoring of franchises on the part of the companies was typically the cause of sundry problems'. It can be concluded, to prevent various problems (sundry means various), a company must oversee its franchisees' business operations. Therefore, the argument is true.


Visit our SHL verbal reasoning page for a comprehensive study guide, tips, tricks and more question examples.

SHL Inductive Reasoning Sample: Identify the Pattern/Find the Next in the Series

Inductive reasoning tests (also known as abstract tests) assess your ability to recognise patterns in sequences of shapes and figures. In the SHL inductive test, you are presented with a row of abstract figures.

You need to identify the underlying pattern of the sequence and choose the figure that comes next in the series from the possible answers. This type of question is commonly known as a next in series.

The correct answer is 

Each frame contains four lines that change their direction and position alternately. In each step, the four lines either rotate 90° or move closer together to the centre of the frame. Thus, just as the first, third and fifth frames create an X, the second, fourth and sixth frames create a diamond.

Expand your knowledge with our SHL Inductive preparation tips page.

SHL Deductive Reasoning Sample: Use Logic on Given Data

Deductive reasoning tests assess your ability to draw conclusions from a given set of data. Unlike verbal tests, where the required piece of data is typically hidden in a larger textual context; deductive reasoning has its data up-front. The challenge is to follow the logic and quickly draw the correct conclusion.

SHL deductive tests contain two types of questions:

  • Syllogisms: The word 'syllogism' ('conclusion' in Greek) can be found in the works of Greek philosophers, mainly Aristotle. Syllogism questions present you with a number of premises (taken as true). You are requested to decide which conclusions follow.
  • Seating Arrangements: Named after the mother-in-law’s favourite part of the wedding; this type of question presents you with a set of rules that must be followed in order to arrange a number of objects, people, etc. It is your job to decide the correct order following the listed rules.


Try out our sample question:

  • Tim lives in a big apartment.
  • Abby lives in a small apartment.
  • There are no big apartments in Tinyville.
  • Small apartments have one bedroom.


Which statement must be true?

A. Tim lives in Tinyville.

B. Abby lives in Tinyville.

C. Big apartments have one bedroom.

D. Abby's apartment has one bedroom.

E. Tim and Abby live in the same town.

The correct answer is D (Abby's apartment has one bedroom).

According to the data, Abby lives in a small apartment, and small apartments have one bedroom. Therefore, Abby's apartment has one bedroom.

Answer (A) – Since Tim lives in a big apartment and there are no big apartments in Tinyville, the conclusion that Tim lives there is illogical.

Answer (B) – According to the data, Tinyville has no big apartments. No information is provided that contradicts the suggestion that Abby lives there. However, not enough information is available to corroborate it, either.

Answer (C) – The fourth fact says that small apartments have one bedroom. However, there is no way of telling whether that also holds true for big apartments.

Answer (E) – According to the data provided, Tim does not live in Tinyville. While it is perfectly possible that Abby also does not live in Tinyville, it cannot be stated with certainty, and even if it was, it is still impossible to deduce that they both live in the same place.


For further information, check out more example questions dedicated to SHL Deductive.


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SHL Behavioural Tests: a Different Category Alogether

Behavioural tests focus on the personality traits and behaviours relevant for the job. These examinations differ from cognitive ability tests as they try to evaluate your behaviour, work-related skills and personality traits together. Thus, we made it its own guide.


Take a look at our SHL personality test guide to learn what our experts have researched and compiled.

SHL SJT Sample: Real Situations on the Job

SJTs, or situational judgement tests, measure your behavioural and compare it to the role you are applying for. Thus, the test presents you with real situations you may encounter on the job and presents you with viable multiple choice options to handle each situation. Your task is to choose what you would likely do if the opportunity presented itself.

A typical SJT has 12 to 25 scenarios with no time limit or offers enough time to read, contemplate and answer all questions comfortably.

Commonly used SJT question types:

  1. Choose two viable responses in the given situation.
  2. Pick what you consider is the best response.
  3. Rank all responses from most likely to least likely typically on a numerical scale.


Try it:

You run a staff of 20 people. You have made a conscious effort to establish good relationships between team members and have managed to build a cooperative team. The atmosphere is positive, and your team members seem to enjoy each other’s company, forming friendly connections. However, in the last couple of weeks, you have begun to feel that the atmosphere is 'too fun', as people take long breaks and procrastinate. You are happy that your employees enjoy coming to work, but you also want to make sure that work is actually being done. You want to establish some regulations regarding breaks in the workplace, including the number of authorized breaks per workday, the number of employees who can take a coffee break at the same time, and the need to request a break before taking it.

A. Gradually and sensitively make a comment to individual employees when they take breaks so that the new rules become habits.

B. Gather the team for a serious discussion on the current situation and introduce the new rules, explaining that things got out of hand and we need more discipline.

C. Send a memo that simply states the new regulations. There’s no need to turn this into something dramatic.

D. Assemble a meeting, explain that there has been some procrastination lately, introduce the regulations, and say that you wish to keep the good atmosphere while also maintaining productivity.


How should you implement these changes?

Best response: D

Primary Competency: Effective communication

Secondary Competency: Maintaining authority

In this question, you aim to set boundaries (by introducing changes) while also maintaining a good atmosphere and team motivation.

Response A aims to avoid conflict surrounding the changes you wish to implement, as well as to avoid offending anyone. However, it’s unlikely that so many changes will go 'unnoticed'. Additionally, this response includes indirect, and ineffective, communication. Making individual comments to every employee could make each comment seem personal.

A serious discussion (response B) is a more direct method of communication. However, a dramatic discussion might seem reprimanding and discourage the team.

Sending a memo (response C) is, again, an indirect means of communication. The team is left without any explanation about the changes and without the opportunity to respond to them.

Response D includes an actual discussion, which comprises an explanation for the changes and an option for the team to respond. In addition, you let the team know that you do appreciate the friendly atmosphere and hope that it remains. Of the given options, this response best combines discipline and motivation.


Note: Deepen your understanding of SJT with our comprehensive SJT Tips and Preparation Guide


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What is Unique about SHL Tests?

SHL tests differ from other exams because of their specific format. This includes which tests they use and how they request you to answer the questions. Below are the main features of SHL assessments:

  • Every applicant gets a different series of questions. These questions are randomly drawn from an existing question bank.
  • To further prevent cheating, some SHL tests are administered twice.
  • Although many topics are covered, each question has a specific format.

How does the SHL Selection Process Work?

Normally, the selection process is comprised in 4 stages:

1. Online Cognitive Ability Tests: The purpose of online testing is to filter candidates, allowing the top 20% to move to the next stage. This allows only the most relevant and talented people to enter the company. Typically, the online tests consist of only one or two tests and are medium in length.

2. In-house Verification Test: After passing stage 1, you will be invited to participate in additional tests at the company's facility. The stage is put in place to reassess and confirm your ability.

This test will be shorter than the one you took at home and will not be graded. It will simply verify and compare your results from the test taken from home. Learn more about the SHL Verify method.

3. Interview: Next, you will be asked to sit an interview with the employer. To learn more about interviews, click here.

4. Behavioural Test/Assessment Centre: Congratulations, you have reached the last stage of the process! Behavioural tests (or personality tests) will assess your personality traits and fit for the job.

In an assessment centre, you will go through different activities and exercises that simulate your future work environment. There, your interpersonal, communication and problem-solving skills will be assessed.

Important Notice: A candidate who is disqualified in one of the stages is 'marked' as such in the SHL candidate pool. Therefore, this can also affect future job possibilities with other employers.

How are SHL Tests Scored?

It is safe to assume that candidates who score below an SHL grade C will be disqualified. In short, SHL tests compare the candidate’s cognitive potential to the average level of a reference group (people with similar age, education or vocation).

  • If you don't know the answer guess. As a general principle, the score is calculated based on your correct answers. Therefore, if you don't know the correct answer, guess.
  • You have to do better than your norm group. Your raw score (the number of correct answers) means very little. The interpretation of the score is done by comparing it to the average in your norm group to reveal your percentile. The percentile is where you rank compared to the group. If you rank on the 80th percentile, you have done better than 80% of your norm group.
  • How is the pass score determined? Your relevant norm group and cut-score (the passing score of your test) are determined by the employer in collaboration with past job candidates from SHL. That data is based on both industry and job level.
  • Results example. Take a sneak peek at this sample report from 2011. Although it's dated, it will help you visualise more terms.


You can classify your SHL scores on an A-E scale and compare it to your norm group:


Grade Meaning

Percentile (Approximate)

A Well above average



Above average






Below average



Well below average



Remember, it is safe to assume that candidates below SHL grade C will be disqualified. Take a peek at the below graph to better comprehend:

Quick Recap

We learned that SHL is one of the top test providers used around the globe. It heavily focuses on cognitive and behavioural tests which include numerical reasoning, verbal, inductive and deductive reasoning.

The tests are used during the hiring process to measure specific problem-solving areas that pertain to the job. Also, the tests are typically given in a multiple-choice format.

You were also introduced to various sample questions with tips to further help you along. The SHL selection process was also revealed to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Furthermore, we broke down how SHL is scored. Here we learned that guessing on the test is fine since only your correct answers will be counted. Your raw score will then be compared to a norm group that is similar to your entry-level and profession.

We also presented a table to share SHL's grading system that is on a scale A-E. Remember you must score above an 80% if you expect to make it to the next stage of the hiring process.


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A few last-minute tips to remember:

  • There is no second chance. The tests you take at home will be your first and last opportunity to set yourself apart from the other candidates.
  • Don't try to cheat! If your verification test results are substantially different from your test results, you will be disqualified.
  • Do well on all subjects. Nailing the cognitive ability tests is not enough if you score poorly on the behavioural tests.
  • Practising tests beforehand. Become familiarised with SHL test structures and content by practising. It also will keep you mindful of the time constraints.

Good luck!


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