Beating Verbal Reasoning Tests

Scoring well in aptitude tests is often as important as performing well in your interview or writing a good CV; use these tips to give yourself an advantage.


  1. Practise, practise, practise

    – Get used to these types of tests as much as possible; as with IQ tests, you’ll start to recognise familiar types of questions asked, as well as the tricks that assessors use to try and catch people out.

  2. Work out minutes per question

    – Do this before the exam starts, ie. divide the number of questions by the minutes you have and strictly limit each question response. Remember, getting answers right is much more important than doing the paper quickly, so don’t rush or guess.

  3. Look at the clock after every question

    – Don’t get so lost in exam focus that you end up spending ages on one question. If you get stuck, mark the question to revisit later; only guess at the end of the exam as you run out of time.

  4. Speed read the paragraph first

    – Then come back for another pass with more detail. Going through a second time already understanding the subject of the content means you will have better clarity. Usually there will be roughly three to five questions per paragraph so spending 20 seconds quickly reading the paragraph beforehand is a time-effective tactic.

  5. Don’t use information from outside the passage

    – These tests are specifically designed for everyone to sit them, so adding in information you know personally won’t win you any extra credit. Don’t disagree with the author, or use extraneous info; maintain laser precision on the logical content of the paragraph itself.

  6. Don’t rush

    – You’re not going to get bonus points for finishing early, so take all the time there is available. Check, check and check again; the best candidates can make silly mistakes under exam pressure; don’t let it happen to you.

  7. Obtain maximum preparation

    – Seek out the assessor or a department of the company setting the test. What information can you find out? Do they have practice papers? Is there a particular style? See if you can find out the format they use, and focus practice on that type of test.

  8. Stay focused

    – There will often be many distractions in exam rooms, so keep your eyes on your paper and don’t worry what other candidates are doing, whether they’re the competition, or if they’re totally unrelated to your exam. Completely ignore other candidates; they aren’t relevant to your score.

  9. Practise in the right medium 

    – If the test you’re going to sit is a paper test, then practice with paper, and similarly, make sure you have access to the same type of computer screen, keyboard and test format for a computer test. Don’t get thrown by new variables; make sure you’ve prepared for exactly the right type of test.

  10. See tip 1

    – Basically, you can’t get enough practice.



Numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, logical reasoning

SHL:  www.shldirect.com/en/practice-tests  used by AON, BOA/ML, BDO, BNP Paribas, BT, Clifford Chance, Deloitte, Freshfields, Macquarie Group, M&G, Microsoft, PWC, Swiss Re UBS, BarCap,

Verbal, Numerical, Inductive, deductive reasoning and personality questionnaires.

Also, University of Kent has a site where free tests are available (numerical, verbal, non-verbal and logical):   http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm


If you would like help with interview coaching, or to prepare for any part of the interview process, City CV has trained interview coaches ready to help. Call us at City CV on +44 20 7100 6656 to talk through some options, or email us at enquirires@citycv.com.