SHL Aptitude Tests Uncovered: Types, Questions, and Prep Tips

Applying for a job no longer only includes an impressive CV and well-worded cover letter. Many candidates now have to complete SHL psychometric tests, where one’s numerical, verbal reasoning, and diagrammatic reasoning are tested. The candidate’s results are then compared to the scores of other test takers.

The SHL test results are used to sift through the pool of candidates recruiters look at when hiring new graduates or managers.

The good news is: most people achieve 80% on their SHL test results. The bad news is: the SHL tests require a bit of preparation. But don’t worry, we can help!

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SHL Aptitude Tests: What to Know

The SHL tests assess the candidate’s ability to answer questions accurately and quickly. While no one enjoys taking a test, think of these aptitude tests as an opportunity to prove to your recruiter that you are capable and the best person for the job level.

Below are several types of SHL tests. Depending on the post applied for, you may be required to answer one or more of these tests before interviews with future employers.

1. SHL Quantitative Reasoning Test

You have 25 minutes to answer 24 questions in the SHL quantitative reasoning test. Your objective is to identify reoccurring patterns in a collection of graphics or an image. The test is designed to showcase one’s ability to understand the similarities and patterns in various concepts. It also sees if you can infer meaning in these patterns.

2. SHL Numerical Reasoning Test

In this test, you have to complete 18 questions in 25 minutes. Depending on the job level applied for, you will get a set of numerical problems in the SHL numerical reasoning test. The questions will be relevant to the position and attempt to be realistic to the daily activities at work. The test assesses and compares candidates’ statistical and mathematical solving abilities.

3. SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

The SHL verbal reasoning test contains 30 questions that you need to answer in 19 minutes. In any position, being able to understand oral and written information is vital. This test is designed to asses one’s cognitive ability and how they make logical deductions. Because of its strict time limit, one’s time management is also assessed in this test. So, make sure you don’t rush but you also don’t take too much time.

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4. SHL Mechanical Reasoning Test

If the position applied for requires mechanical knowledge, one will need to prove their understanding of mechanics, engineering, and physics. Questions will focus on real-life problems and events in daily work tasks. Candidates will need to showcase their knowledge of the relationship between physical forces and mechanical elements in practical situations.

5. SHL Comprehension Reading Test

The SHL comprehension reading test has 18 questions with a 10-minute time limit. Much like in the verbal reasoning test, the candidates will deduce information and meaning from written statements in this assessment. 

Comprehension skills are vital in most positions where communication and liaison are part of one’s duties. You will use the provided information in the test should in making critical and well-formed answers. Because there are more questions than minutes allotted for this test, it’s important to manage one’s time well in the test.

6. SHL Deductive Reasoning Tests

The SHL deductive reasoning test has 18 questions that you need to complete in 10 minutes. You will be given statements. Then you will need to identify outcomes and come to logical conclusions. If you provide outcomes that don’t fit the given scenarios, then that will help the employers predict your daily work performance.

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7. SHL Management and Graduate Item Bank (MGIB)

This test has a time limit of 90 minutes. It is for graduate-level and managerial positions. 

There are different sections in the MGIB. Verbal, numerical, and cognitive tests are allotted 25 minutes, 35 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. In each test, you should show your creativity and abstract reasoning. Remember, the test is used to identify the most qualified and outstanding candidate, so one should approach the test with that outlook of themselves.


Other SHL tests include other cognitive ability tests such as the Verify G+ Test, personality tests such as the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ), and behavioural tests such as the situational judgment tests and universal competency framework (UFC).

Different Types of Questions Asked in the SHL Tests

Visit JobTestPrep’s site to find many practice tests and examples of questions. Below we’ve taken some example questions from the most common SHL tests and discussed the best solutions and answers.

These question types are taken from past tests and are a showing of the difficulty level some SHL tests may be. But we recommend you review many practice tests in full before your SHL exam.

Quantitative Reasoning Question Example:


Q: What is the projected percentage increase in the combined consumer goods exports for both Hong Kong and Singapore between Y and Y+4?

a. 10%

b. 20%

c. 30%

d. 40%

e. 50%

First, we need to look at the difference between the Y and Y+4 values for both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Hong Kong had 300 million dollars at Y and then 450 million dollars at Y+4, which makes the difference 150 million dollars. the % difference of 300 and 450 is 50%.

Singapore had 60 million dollars at Y and 90 million dollars at Y+4, which makes the difference of 30 million dollars. The % difference between 60 and 90 is also 50%.

Therefore, the percentage increase for both is 50%.

Q: What is the projected ratio of Hong Kong to Singapore consumer goods exports in Y+4?

a. 2:1

b. 3:1

c. 4:1

d. 5:1

e. Cannot say

First, we need to divide 450 by 90. This is equal to 5.

But we know that divisions are easily expressed in ratios as well, so if 450/90 = 5 then it’s fair to say that the same information = 5/1.

Lastly, convert that fraction into a ratio by changing the symbols, so 5/1 becomes 5:1.

To summarise:

We can see now how these questions are assessing your ability to solve problems and reach logical conclusions. 

Yes, it’s math and that might stress some people, but conceptually, it’s really testing your accuracy and capability to problem-solve under pressure.

Numerical Reasoning Question Example:


Q: How many Bernd cars were sold in May?

a. 10

b. 1,000

c. 5,000

d. 10,000

First, this graph gives the sales figures cumulatively.

Second, we can see that in April there were 9,000 car sales, and by the end of May there are 10,000.

Therefore, during May there were (10,000 – 9,000) car sales, which means the correct answer = B (1,000).

Bar Graph and Pie chart

Q: In October 2010, which 2 Pacific Bond fund holdings when combined had the same value as Southern Pacific Holdings?

a. Northern Pacific and Central Pacific

b. Central Pacific and Pacific Rim

c. Pacific Rim and Pacific Mixed

d. Pacific Mixed and Northern Pacific

e. Pacific Rim and Northern Pacific

First, in the pie chart .we see the Pacific Bond value divided into separate holdings values as percentages. The question is asking for which two holdings equal (=) Southern Pacific holdings which in the chart is 35%.

Looking at the other sections of the pie, we need holdings that can add up to 35%. There are only a few combinations that come close to that combined percentage. But only 1 combination is exactly 35%.

Therefore, the only possible answer is Central Pacific and Pacific Rim.

To summarise:

Whereas Quantitative Reasoning was about logic in relation to numbers, Numerical Reasoning is a lot more focused on math and practical problems. But again, don’t let that scare you. As we’ve practiced above, there are simple solutions that are easily applied if you can keep a cool head.

Also, all the information you need to solve each problem will be readily available, as it is above.

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Verbal Reasoning Question Example:

Use the texts below to answer the questions.

Although there is no scientific support for the contention that the physical features observed in palm reading can enable someone to read a person’s character or divine their future, the human hand does show evidence of a person’s health, cleanliness, occupation, and nervous habits. Examples of this include callouses or nail biting. Hands are often examined in diagnosis and provide clues with which the palm reader may often astound the unsophisticated.

Q: Do the features of a person’s hand provide clues to his/her job?

  • True
  • False
  • Cannot say

First, in the Verbal Reasoning test, it is vital that you only answer the question using only the information and knowledge gained from the text. If the question goes beyond the scope of the text, then the answer is probably False or Cannot say.

Therefore, the answer to this question is false. As the text says ‘there is no scientific evidence…’ for someone to divine a person’s occupation from their palm alone.

The most prevalent neurological condition in the developed world is the migraine. It’s characterised by severe, recurrent headaches, with additional symptoms including nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. The frequency and duration of migraine attacks are variable: attacks may occur a few times a year or a few times a month, while pain may last between four hours and three days.

Approximately one-third of sufferers experience an aura – a perceptual disturbance before the onset of the migraine. There are numerous theories on the cause of migraines. The vascular theory posits that migraines are caused by problems with blood vessels in the brain. Prophylactic drug treatment which prevents the onset of migraine, has declined in recent years because of side effects and also improvements in medications treating the actual attack. Whereas older varieties of pain medication are potentially addictive, new drugs called triptans work by reducing pain information provided to the brain. Treatment plans include avoidance of known migraine triggers, such as diet, alcohol,and stress. Not only are migraines bad for sufferers but they are also bad for the economy, with an estimated 25 million days of work lost in the UK alone, every year.

Q: One-third of migraines are preceded by a sensitivity to light

a. True

b. False

c. Cannot say

This is a slightly nuanced answer. The passage mentions that one-third of sufferers experience an aura. The word aura is not clearly defined. Is it a sensitivity to light or only an effect of one’s perception?

We also do not know about the other two-thirds of sufferers and what they experience when a migraine sets in. Therefore, the correct answer is c. Cannot say.

To Summarise:

While this section is slightly easier than some of the other tests, take it seriously. There are many trick questions in these types of exams. Some trick questions are based on incomplete information. So, you can definitely choose “Cannot Say”.

It can be frightening to answer a question with ‘I cannot say’, especially when all your answers determine whether you get hired or not. But admitting that you don’t have enough information or don’t have the ‘correct answers’ is a sign of maturity and confidence.

Many people in their lives will pretend they have all the answers and never admit they need help. But those are very revealing qualities in a manager or employee, that attitude often reflects badly on a team.

That is why it is important to carefully read all the provided texts and think critically when answering each question. Teachers are fond of saying ‘there are no wrong answers’ but we would amend that to ‘there are only answers given from incomplete information’.

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Our Best Preparation Tips

Student doing test

As we said earlier, no one enjoys assessments. However, being well-prepared can ease much of the anxiety that tests bring. Below are some of our best tips to prepare for the SHL tests.

1. Start Early!

Procrastination rarely makes any task easier to do. That’s why it’s best to get a head-start on studying and preparation. This is especially true if you have to take many SHL tests. Don’t make life harder by having to prepare for many aptitude tests only the night before.

If you have to take a test, allow yourself at least a week to study and familiarise yourself with the content.

2. Remove Distractions

Closing the door on loud noises and distracting roommates is a great start. You can also turn off your phone or leave it somewhere else, so you can really focus on the studying you might have to do.

Another great idea is to play ambient music. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy absolute silence, a calming playlist can be a great idea to aid productivity.

3. Plan Ahead

There may be a lot of paperwork or tasks involved when taking the SHL tests. Make a list of all the documents, small tasks, and steps involved leading up to the test. This way you can make sure you will not forget anything.

Being prepared is also a great quality for an employee. You might even impress your recruiter if they get wind of it. If you are prepared,  you can also be more confident on the test day and improve your performance, so it’s a great idea all ’round.

4. Make Studying Interesting

A lot of the SHL content may be boring, but there are ways of improving your studying experience. You can begin by identifying the more entertaining topics and starting with those. You could also break down the sections of work, and after each section, you could reward yourself with some snacks or fun break activities.

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5. Study with Friends

You will have to the test itself alone, but studying does not have to be. Ask a friend or family member to quiz you on the SHL questions. Better yet, if they are also taking tests at the same time, you could study together.

6. Take Regular Breaks

Studying can be tiring for the brain, so it is vital that you allow yourself some rest time. 90 minutes should be the maximum time you study before you give yourself a break. But many people function better with shorter study sessions. You can try to review for 30-45 minutes with breaks in between.

7. Use Reliable Practice Tests

We already recommended JobTestPrep as they have many practice tests and helpful guides. These can greatly boost one’s performance in the SHL test. The reason this is helpful is quite simple. When you practice answering questions repeatedly , you will find questions and even answers familiar during the real test. Of course, there are other sites that offer similar services to improve SHL test results. Maximize available online SHL tests.

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Final Thoughts

Finishing your degree and having plenty of work experience is only the beginning of excelling in the recruitment process. Employers often require their job candidates to take a pre-employment exam as this separates the best ones from other candidates.

You can use this process to prove yourself.

We have discussed how there are many SHL psychometric tests and most people achieve 80% on their SHL test score. When 80% of people succeed, it means you need a very high score to stand out. That’s where preparation and presentation come in.

So, start your preparation and follow our expert tips. Practice more with JobTestPrep here.

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