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Ten top tips for passing a verbal reasoning test

Book open Reading time: 3 mins

Verbal reasoning tests reveal how well you can analyse written information. Usually, the format is a short passage of text followed by true, false and cannot say questions. They’re designed to assess your ability to understand what you’ve read, think constructively and reach accurate conclusions. Here are ten tips on how to pass a verbal reasoning test.

Here's the summary of the key points:

  • What is the format of a verbal reasoning test?
  • Advice on answering verbal reasoning questions.

Ten top tips for passing a verbal reasoning test

1. Find out who your test provider will be

As soon as you find out you’re going to sit a verbal reasoning test, ask to see a sample of the questions. That’s because all verbal reasoning tests aren’t the same. They’re produced by a number of different test providers – the main ones being SHL, Kenexa, Saville, Cubiks and Talent Q. Knowing which provider is responsible for the test you’ll be doing means you can practise on the right type of test. That will be a big advantage when it comes to the real thing. 

2. Read and re-read each piece of text

Verbal reasoning test passages are deliberately written in complex and sometimes convoluted language. Small assumptions can catch you out. So read each passage two or three times to make sure you understand what’s being said – and not being said – before you answer. It’s also vital to read the instructions thoroughly so you don’t miss vital information like ‘You cannot go back to previous questions’ or ‘Please select two answers’. 

3. Don’t make assumptions

Don’t allow general knowledge or real-life experiences to prove or disprove a statement. You must take the information you’re presented with literally. If something isn’t included in the passage then you can’t let it affect your decision-making process when answering questions on a verbal reasoning test.

4. Manage your time

Note how long the assessment will last and how many questions you need to answer within that time. Then calculate how much time you can devote to each question and stick to it. Most verbal reasoning tests last around 20 minutes. As a rough rule of thumb, you should spend about a minute on each question. Always scan ahead and see how many questions relate to the statement you’re about to read – there’s usually between three and five. This will help you gauge how much time to allocate. If you’re really stuck on a question don’t waste time trying to figure it out. During the five minutes, you ponder one tricky question, you could correctly answer five others. As always though, accuracy is more important than speed.

5. Hone your analytical skills

Brush up on your ability to absorb information and pinpoint key themes by reading business articles. Pick out the key points and arguments and identify how the author supports them. 

6. Improve your English as a second language

If English is your second language then it stands to reason that you may well find verbal reasoning tests harder. Practice is even more important for you – as is reading articles in English newspapers. Try papers like the Guardian, The Times and the Financial Times as well as The Economist, Time Magazine and Fortune. 

7. Practise in the right format

If you’re going to take your real verbal reasoning test online, then make sure you complete your practice tests online. Reading on-screen can take longer than on paper and it’s important to get used to this.

8. Learn from your mistakes

When practising questions, always invest time reviewing the questions you get wrong. You’ll learn more from these than from the questions you get right.

9. Get a good night’s sleep

It’s a fact that less sleep lowers mental agility. So give yourself a head start in the most simple and obvious way and get a good night's rest.

10. Practise, practise, practise

Preparation is what separates successful candidates from unsuccessful ones. Getting to grips with the types of question you’ll face and their different styles takes time. Practising increases your confidence, lowers stress levels, allows you to learn from your mistakes and helps you answer each question faster.