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SHL Test Preparation Guide

Good preparation is key to achieving success in any challenge and psychometric testing is no different. To help with your SHL test preparation, listed below are useful tips for completing SHL aptitude tests (including Verbal, Numerical and Inductive Reasoning Tests) and the SHL OPQ32:

In this guide:

Pre-test preparation:

1. Plan when to complete the SHL test

Be sure to allow sufficient time to complete the psychometric test/questionnaire, in order to achieve the required deadline. Hence, do not leave things until the last minute in case something unforeseen happens!

  • SHL OPQ32 – Although the SHL OPQ32 has no time limitation, candidates should aim to take between 45 to 60 minutes to complete the questionnaire.
  • SHL Aptitude Tests – SHL Verbal, Numerical and Inductive Reasoning Tests are subject to a time limitation of between 17 and 25 minutes (depending on job role).

2. Schedule the best time of day for you

Everyone has a different body clock and consequently one individual’s peak performance time-of-day will be quite different to another person’s. As a result, think about your best time of day to complete a challenging task.

For example, what time of day are you at your best to concentrate and to think objectively, as well as feeling inspired and motivated to succeed? This will then be the best time to complete the psychometric test or personality questionnaire.

SHL practice tests:

3. Resources for SHL test preparation

SHL provide a few practice questions in each SHL Aptitude Test or personality questionnaire, to enable the candidate to become familiar with the process.

In addition, use some of the practice questions available and Download Free SHL Practice Tests to prepare yourself.

Importantly, with Aptitude Tests, always ensure that you know how you calculated the correct answer, before moving onto the main questions.

As well as Practice Tests, brain teasers and number puzzles may also help with your psychometric test preparation efforts. Also, consider Sudoku puzzles for inductive reasoning, or spatial reasoning test preparation.

Many newsagents sell puzzle books to help get you started and such puzzles will help stimulate your brain before any psychometric assessment.

4. Plan and maintain a quiet, calm environment

When taking an aptitude test or completing the SHL OPQ32, it is vital that you maintain a quiet, non-interrupted environment all the way through the process. In addition, complete the assessment using a laptop computer with a reliable internet connection.

As many people complete these online tests and questionnaires at home, it is also crucial that you anticipate and attempt to mitigate any potential interruptions.

For example, ensure you ask any family members (including children) not to interrupt or disturb you. Don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone to avoid disturbance or possible distraction. Also, check that you will be comfortable for the duration of the test/questionnaire before starting.

5. Maintain a positive frame of mind

Whilst you need to visualise yourself being successful in completing an aptitude test to ensure lack of confidence doesn’t get the better of you, over confidence can have a detrimental effect on a candidate. This can result in the person failing to pay sufficient attention to the questions and skip through them too quickly.

As a result, even if you have done well in the practice tests, remember the questions are likely to be different ones and require fresh thinking. Hence, a happy balance is required here.

6. 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. In addition, a calculator is allowed in some Numerical Reasoning tests, so ensure that you have one of these beforehand.

7. 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. Also, consider taking appropriate breaks between the tests/questionnaires, to ensure you maintain full concentration.

Tips for taking SHL psychometric tests:

8. Keep focused and pace yourself

Although the SHL personality questionnaire is not timed, you should work quickly and not spend too much time dwelling on the questions. Importantly, your first reaction/response is usually the most reflective of you, so be honest in your responses. Attempting to alter what would be your natural preferred response to each SHL OPQ32 question, can lead to a poor consistency rating in the resulting report.

If possible, try to complete all 100 questions in the SHL OPQ32 at one time. However, you can stop part way through the questionnaire and return later should you need to.

9. When taking an aptitude 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.

10. Keep an eye on the time

If you are completing an aptitude 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 how long you have for each question based upon the time allocated for the test divided by the number of questions. Then keep an eye on a clock or watch that you should have close to hand.

11. Use all of the time allocated

Use all 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 were correct.

12. Focus on accuracy in SHL aptitude tests

Remember, the design of SHL aptitude tests caters for all levels of capability. Hence, this may mean some candidates do not answer every single question. Consequently, it is better to answer most of the questions correctly, than to speed through the test with little attention to ensuring the answers are correct. In summary, a balance of speed and accuracy is required to succeed.

13. Press the ‘completion and log out’ button

At the end of answering the questionnaire, please ensure you click on the ‘completion button’. This signifies that you are happy for your responses to be summarised into a report for the interviewer.

After completing an SHL assessment:

14. Ask for feedback

Having spent your time completing an SHL aptitude test or SHL OPQ32 (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 the person to develop further, whether they get the job or not.

15. Reflect on your responses

After completing the test or questionnaire, reflect on your responses and how you applied yourself. What did you learn and what would you do differently next time? Finally, make a note of the strategies that worked and the things you will do differently next time.


See tips on maintaining energy levels during meetings to improve participation.

About the Author

Kim Larkins, MCIPD is Company Founder of KSL Training. Kim has 30 years training and HR management experience in the Retail, Hospitality and Pharmaceutical industry.

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