Guide to SHL ability tests


SHL currently offer a choice of 5 on-line Ability/Aptitude tests. These are Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning, as well as Verify Checking and Verify Calculation Tests.

These tests seek to measure the candidate’s ability to rationalise information presented to them and draw accurate conclusions.

Hence, the tests are timed, and they are written to address a wide range of capability within a particular population group such as supervisors, managers etc.

SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

SHL Verbal Reasoning Tests are designed to measure the candidate’s ability to evaluate the logic of various kinds of argument.

In the test, the candidate has to decide whether a statement made in connection with information given earlier, is true or untrue, or whether there is insufficient information to make a judgement. In addition, the test is timed, ranging from 17 – 19 minutes to complete, dependent upon the level of test. As a result, it is critical that the correct level of test is administered for each candidate.

In summary, the Verbal Reasoning Test is suitable for any occupation where the following tasks are critical aspects of the job role:

  • Analysis and interpretation of written and oral information
  • Preparation of written documents
  • Preparing and delivering presentations

As a result, this makes the test ideal in the recruitment of a wide range of functions including:

  • Administration roles
  • Distribution roles
  • Human Resources roles
  • Legal roles
  • Marketing roles
  • Professional Services roles
  • Transportation roles

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SHL Numerical Reasoning Test

SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests are designed to measure the candidate’s ability to make correct decisions or inferences from the numerical data presented. Candidates are allowed to use a calculator. Importantly, the candidate will be allowed a specific amount of time to complete the test. This ranges from 17 – 25 minutes, dependent upon the level of the test undertaken.

In summary, the Numerical Reasoning Test is suitable for any occupation where the following tasks are critical aspects of the job role:

  • Analysis and interpretation of numerical data
  • Budgets
  • Costs
  • Margins
  • Trends
  • Statistical analyses

This makes the test ideal in the recruitment of a wide range of functions including:

  • IT roles
  • Finance roles
  • Production roles
  • Professional Services roles
  • Sales roles

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SHL Inductive Reasoning Test

SHL Inductive Reasoning Tests, measure a manager or graduate’s ability to solve problems. Because of this, they may also be referred to as diagrammatic style tests, logical reasoning or abstract reasoning tests. The test measures the ability to work flexibly with unfamiliar information to find solutions. As a result, the candidate will be presented with 24 tasks to complete within 25 minutes.

In summary, the Inductive Reasoning Test is suitable for any occupation where the following tasks and capabilities are critical aspects of the job role:

  • Analysing data
  • Developing solutions from first principles
  • Making decisions and solving problems
  • Logical thinking
  • Conceptual and analytical thinking
  • Developing objectives and strategies

In addition, this makes the test ideal in the recruitment of a wide range of functions including:

  • Strategic roles
  • IT roles
  • New Product and Service Development roles
  • Research & Development and Science roles
  • Creative roles

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SHL Verify Checking Test

The Verify Checking test is designed to measure a candidate’s ability to compare information quickly and accurately, which is critical to ensuring the quality of work.

For example, a question might show you a piece of data on the left side of the screen. You must then match this to the correct data from a list of options on the right side. These contain similar, but not identical, samples. See Example SHL Checking Questions for more information.

The test is 4 to 5 minutes in duration.

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SHL Verify Calculation Test

The Verify Calculation test is designed to measure a candidate’s ability to add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers quickly and accurately. This is critical to many workplace tasks involving calculations and estimation, as well as auditing and checking the numerical work of others. The test is relevant to entry-level, administrative, and clerical roles, as well as apprenticeships and internships where the following tasks are critical aspects of the job:

  • Calculating and checking figures
  • Using calculators and computers for daily calculations
  • Balancing currency, coin, and checks in a cash drawer
  • Issuing refunds, receipts, and change
  • Quoting prices, credit terms, and other bid specifications

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Comparison Groups: Industry Sector

The candidate’s test results are compared to one of the five comparison groups used, based on industry sector. For example, the Numerical Reasoning Test establishes how well the candidate is likely to understand or interpret numerical data and mathematical calculations, as compared to the group. Whereas, the Verbal Reasoning Test indicates how well they are likely to understand and evaluate written reports and documents.

In summary, the five comparison groups used are:

  • Banking, Finance & Professional Services
  • Retail, Hospitality & Leisure
  • Engineering, Science & Technology
  • Public Sector/Government
  • General Population

Ability Test Level

It is critical to select the right level of test based on the job role the candidate is being screened for. Importantly, SHL Verify Ability tests are grouped into the following four job role levels:

  • Graduate / University: Suitable for graduates across a wide range of industries and are typically used for selection of candidates coming directly out of degree programmes.
  • Managerial/Professional: Suitable for professional or technical jobs such as experienced managers, technical professionals, or other similar jobs.
  • Supervisory: Appropriate for jobs such as junior managers, supervisors, management trainees, and senior administrative staff, some professional / technical sales positions, or similar jobs.
  • Operational: Appropriate for jobs such as customer service / call centre, sales, retail associates, personal assistants or other types of jobs requiring a moderate degree of critical reasoning ability.

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