What are verbal reasoning tests?

Verbal reasoning tests are a type of cognitive psychometric test. While there are different types of verbal reasoning tests, for recruitment purposes there is one that is used almost exclusively. These standard verbal reasoning tests include a series of text passages regarding various random topics. You’ll then be presented with statements regarding those passages. Your job is to determine if the statement is True, False or Can’t Tell (it’s unclear). It’s important to remember that you must base your answer entirely on the passage of information, and not bring in any external knowledge you have regarding the topic.

You can check out a free verbal reasoning test right here to get a better idea of how they work.

There are other types of verbal reasoning tests, but they are very rarely used in practice, and it is not worth your time to practice them. They would include spelling and grammar tests, verbal analogies, word associations and instructions following.

Are verbal reasoning tests called something else?

While they are normally simply called verbal reasoning tests, you might also see them referred to as written comprehension tests or verbal comprehension tests.

What is an example of a typical verbal reasoning test?

Let’s run through a quick example now. Let’s suppose you are shown this passage: “Canberra is the capital of Australia. Canberra is an unusual city in many respects. First, it is a planned city. That is, it did not develop naturally, but was planned ahead of time, with Walter Burley Griffin – an American architect – winning a worldwide competition in 1911 to design Australia’s new capital.”

Statement 1:

“Walter Burley Griffin the Australian architect designed Canberra”. You need to decide if this statement is True, False, or you Can’t Tell if it’s True or False, based purely on the information contained in the passage. So, the passage mentions that Burley Griffin is an ‘American architect’. We know then he was not Australian, and therefore that statement is False. Does that make sense? Let’s try another one.

Statement 2:

“Building of Australia’s new capital began in 1911”. Again, you need to determine if this is statement is True, False or you Can’t Tell, based on just the passage. So, while the passage did mention that there was a design competition in 1911, it doesn’t mention anything about when the construction of the city began. The correct answer would therefore be Can’t Tell. This is an important point here, and this is where most people fall over with verbal reasoning tests. You don’t select False in this case, because although you know the statement isn’t True, because the passage doesn’t explicitly say it, you don’t know that it’s False. The construction of the city might have begun in 1911, or it might have begun after 1911. You simply do not know.

So there’s a quick couple of examples of verbal reasoning test questions. You can take a free full SHL verbal reasoning test here

Do I need to have knowledge about the topics?

No absolutely not. The topic might be about Ferarris, the process of making chocolate, famous conspiracy theories or, as we’ve seen above, the history of Canberra. The topic really could be anything. Don’t worry, these do not aim to test your knowledge of these obscure topics, and there is no expectation that you would know anything about them at all. Instead, the passages are used to then test your ability to read the information with a very high attention to detail, and answer a series of statements regarding the passage. In fact, it’s easier if you don’t have any pre-existing knowledge about the topic. This way it prevents you from inadvertently bringing in your own knowledge to the equation, which you must not do. The questions are only about the information included in the passage, and nothing else.

Where can I find practice verbal reasoning tests?

You’ve come to right place. First, you can take a free verbal reasoning test right now here. Practice makes perfect as they say, and you can get great practice with a GradTests subscription. We have 6 full length verbal reasoning tests with 150 questions. All the questions come with fully worked solutions explaining the answer. You can upgrade here right now.

What are the best tricks and tips for verbal reasoning tests?

You can download a free pdf which takes you through all our top tips and tricks. You can also find some great tips here too.

What’s the single best tip you have for verbal reasoning test success?

The most important thing to realise is the distinction between answering True instead of Can’t Tell, or False instead of Can’t Tell. The line between these two options is often blurred. It’s pretty rare that the answer would be False, and you think it’s True, or vice versa. That’s normally not in debate, unless you have simply missed some information. Instead, it’s almost like a ‘burden of proof’ between choosing Can’t Tell (basically saying, ‘I don’t know if that’s True or False’) versus choosing True (Yes I know that’s definitely True based on the passage) or False (No, I know that’s definitely False based on the passage). There is no real way to get to grips with this burden of proof other than by taking many practice tests and seeing where this lies.

How are verbal reasoning tests scored?

Verbal reasoning tests generally are in the form of a multiple-choice test with 3 answer options: True, False and Can’t Tell. Only one answer is correct and you receive one mark for any correct answer. Generally you are not penalised for incorrect answers – i.e. there is no ‘negative marking’. Your test strategy should therefore always include guessing where you don’t know the answer.

Normally, your test answers are only submitted once you finish the test. This means that you can return to prior questions and change your answer before you finally complete the test. Double check the instructions screen before the test commences to make sure this is indeed the case for your test. Once you have submitted your test, normally you will not be shown your results. Only the company that asked you to sit the test will receive access to your answers and score.

What do verbal reasoning tests measure?

Verbal reasoning tests try to measure your reading, vocabulary, critical reasoning and verbal comprehension skills. You’ll need to be able to read the passage, understand the meaning of the words, understand what the passage is discussing and then determine the validity of statements about the passage. As the passages are normally about obtuse topics, it’s common for there to be some large and confusing words included. It would be useful to be able to Google the odd word you don’t know the meaning of while sitting the exam.

How can GradTests help me prepare for verbal reasoning tests?

At GradTests we have a bank of 150 questions spread over 6 full length verbal reasoning tests. With our simulated test environment, you will be exposed to the time pressure that you will face on test day. Getting used to working under the clock is incredibly important to train your brain to work efficiently. Time management, and knowing when to move on from a question you’re struggling on, is critical for success.

All our verbal reasoning questions come with solutions and explanations to those solutions. This is essential for your learning – if you get an answer wrong, it’s important to understand why exactly, so that you can learn and improve your score. You can take the tests as many times as you like and access them 24/7. Our product is very affordable and represents a small investment for you in securing the job of your dreams.

Does practicing verbal reasoning tests improve your score?

Yes it absolutely does! Once you start practicing the tests you will come to understand the structure of the tests, you’ll get accustomed to working under time pressure and you’ll figure out all the most common tricks and traps that the providers lay for you. See for yourself.