SHL test preparation

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Preparation is key to achieving success in the most important factors affecting our lives, so we have listed below some helpful hints and tips for completing SHL personality questionnaires and ability tests:

In this guide:

Pre-test preparation

  • Plan when to complete the SHL test
    When scheduling your time, make sure you still have sufficient time to complete the psychometric test/questionnaire in order to achieve the required deadline, just in case something unforeseen happens or something has changed your positive mindset.
  • Schedule the best time of day for you
    Think about the best time of day to complete the SHL ability tests or SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire.
    What time are you at your best to concentrate, feel inspired / motivated to succeed and think objectively? This is, without doubt the best time to complete the test or questionnaire you are about to take.

SHL practice tests

In each SHL Ability Test or personality questionnaire, you will be provided with a few practice questions to become familiar with the process. Always ensure with Ability Tests that you know how you calculated the correct answer before moving onto the main questions. Consider using some of the practice questions available and download free SHL practice tests to prepare yourself.

  • Plan and maintain a quiet, calm environment
    When taking an ability test or completing the OPQ, it is vital that you maintain a quiet, non-interrupted environment all the way through the process.

    As many people complete these online tests and questionnaires at home, it is crucial that you anticipate any potential interruptions such as the telephone ringing, loud music starting up or the kids shouting to you, to ensure they are effectively “managed”. Check that you will be comfortable for the duration of the test/questionnaire before starting.

  • Maintain a positive frame of mind
    Whilst you need to visualise yourself being successful in completing an ability test to ensure lack of confidence doesn’t get the better of you, over confidence can have a detrimental effect on candidates where they fail to pay sufficient attention to the questions and skip through them too quickly. Even if you have done well in the practice tests, remember the questions are likely to be different ones and require fresh thinking. A happy balance is required here.
  • Have sufficient resources to hand
    Have a few pieces of paper and a pen to hand should you wish to write something down whilst you are on-line. For some Numerical Reasoning tests, a calculator is allowed, so ensure you have one of these beforehand.
  • Take a break between tasks
    If you are likely to be sat completing several tests and/or questionnaires, you may want to consider having a drink to hand before starting and taking appropriate breaks between these tests/questionnaires to ensure you maintain full concentration.

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Tips for taking SHL psychometric tests

  • Keep focused and pace yourself
    Although the personality questionnaire is not timed, you should work quickly and not spend too much time dwelling on the questions. You first reaction/response is usually the most reflective of you. If you have planned your time well, you will probably want to complete the 100 questions at one time, but you can stop part way through the questionnaire and return at a later time should you need to.
  • When taking an ability test do not dwell on one question for too long
    You can always come back to the question at the end if you are unsure or think it may take too long to complete in the allocated time given. Work through the questions steadily with no distractions or input from any other person.
  • Keep an eye on the time
    If you are completing an ability test such as the Verbal Reasoning or Numerical Reasoning Test, you will be timed and the on-line system will just cut you off once the allocated time has elapsed. Therefore, plan out how long you have for each question based upon the time allocated for the test divided by the number of questions, and keep an eye on a clock or watch that you should have close to hand.
  • Use all of the time allocated
    Remember to use all of the time allocated to you. Even if you have finished the questions, take the final few minutes to review your answers to questions that you were not totally confident they were correct.
  • Focus on accuracy in SHL ability tests
    Remember, ability tests are designed to cater for all levels of capability, which may mean for some of us that we do not answer every single question. Better to answer most of the questions correctly than to speed through the test with little attention to ensuring the answers are correct. A balance of speed and accuracy is required here to succeed.
  • Press the completion and log out button
    At the end of answering the questionnaire, please ensure you click on the completion button, which signifies that you are happy for your responses to be summarised into a report for the interviewer.

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After completing an SHL assessment

  • Ask for feedback
    Having spent your time completing an SHL ability test or personality questionnaire, ask your interviewer for some feedback on your results or report. It is best practice to provide candidates with either verbal and/or written feedback as it enables you to develop further, whether you get the job or not.
  • Reflect on your responses
    After completing the test or questionnaire, reflect on your responses and how you applied yourself. What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Make a note of the strategies that worked and the things you will do differently next time.


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