SHL Test – A Complete Study Guide with Practice Questions
The SHL Aptitude Tests are likely to pop up several times when you look for a job. You may be asked to take at least one SHL Test or several as part of the pre-employment assessments. It might even be the first step you need to take in the recruitment process you will undergo.
The SHL Aptitude Tests contain over 70 different tests that employers use to assess candidates if they possess the skills needed for the job level. Your problem-solving, logical reasoning, numerical senses, and more will be assessed.
If you have an SHL test coming up, you have come to the right place. Take a look at this full study guide to better equip yourself with relevant skills and knowledge.
Table of Contents
What Is the SHL Test?
Founded in 1977 by Peter Saville and Roger Holdsworth, SHL (Saville and Holdsworth Limited) is a UK-based company that specializes in creating various sets of aptitude tests to help employers decide the suitability of a candidate, as well as to estimate a prospective employee’s performance.
It is considered to be among the top test providers in the UK. When you apply for positions in the UK, you will run heads with SHL tests at some point. The SHL test takes the bell curve scoring system, meaning you are in direct competition against other applicants.
The bell curve scoring scale allows employers to determine your ability among the pool of candidates. They can make a direct comparison of your skills to other test takers. Hence, it makes the hiring process easier and more efficient.
Although the SHL test sounds challenging, the average scores of applicants remain at 80%, which is impressively higher than other demanding assessment methods. The exact benchmark varies depending on the actual test and candidates’ performance of the same batch.
If you score above the average, your chance of getting a callback or being advanced to the next stage of the interview is high. Conversely, if you score significantly below the average, you will know that your chance of being considered is slim.
Who Uses the SHL Tests?
SHL offers its services in over 150 countries and 30 languages. The majority of its client base is in the UK. It provides more than 10,000 companies with its assessment services to assist in their hiring process. Many of its clients are well-known international corporations like Amazon and Microsoft.
You will find plenty of companies listed on the Fortune 500 enlist SHL’s services. SHL is famous for providing unbiased and premium tests for companies to hire talents that fit their requirements, starting from the OPQ test onwards.
International companies choose SHL because it is versatile. The content and design of the SHL Assessment Tests can adapt to the local environment if it is used by different branches around the world.
SHL invests heavily in improving and updating its database so its tests can accurately distill down potential employees. Some companies may request personalized test designs for specific purposes, such as for the recruitment of high-ranking management positions.
SHL has been endorsed by companies for decades. In the pre-employment selection process, the tests play an important role.
What Are the Most Common SHL Tests?
Despite having over 70 tests, there are five SHL tests that stand out from the crowd as they are the most used by companies. These five tests measure your skills and ability to respond to different situations and scenarios.
1. SHL General Ability Test
Three aspects of your reasoning skills, including numerical, inductive, and deductive abilities, are measured in the SHL General Ability test. There are two versions of this SHL assessment: the SHL Verify Interactive Ability Test (timed online test) and the non-interactive SHL General Ability Test. The two versions of the test are administrated based on the situation required.
In the interactive version, you need to answer 24 questions in 36 minutes, whereas in the non-interactive version, you need to answer 30 questions in 36 minutes. The SHL General Ability test collects topics from various fields and evaluates a candidate’s proficiency in handling daily tasks.
The difficulty level is considered to be low to moderate in both SHL General Ability Tests. Advanced questions in each subject are not included. This is a basic test given to candidates to measure their foundation and general knowledge.
2. SHL Numerical Reasoning Test
There are two versions of the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test. In the interactive version of the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test, you need to answer 10 questions in 18 minutes. As for the non-interactive version, you need to solve 16 questions in 20 minutes. Almost all of these questions are mathematical questions that involve extracting and inferring data from a chart or graph.
Regardless of the version, these SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests usually provide a chart on which questions will be based. Sometimes, you will be required to construct a diagram with the data points provided. Basic mathematical formulas are involved. Candidates are expected to demonstrate strong numerical reasoning skills.
Advanced mathematical formulas are rarely used. Remember that these numerical reasoning tests are designed to test how you solve realistic numerical problems. If you have experience working with numbers, you will find the test fairly similar to the work you handle on a daily basis.
Accountants or office positions that involve dealing with numbers frequently will have an advantage in the test. It does not require much studying if you have a strong fundamental concept of mathematics.
3. SHL Verbal Reasoning Test
With only a non-interactive version, you are given 19 minutes to solve 30 questions in the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test. This test is designed to assess your comprehension and presentation skills. This is an essential test since many workplace scenarios require employees to communicate effectively.
Like many verbal reasoning tests, this test provides you with passages. From the information available in each test, you have to deduct missing information, write a summary, spot the logical error, and more.
Sometimes, the paragraph does not make total sense and there will be questions about that. You have to find an answer that explains the discrepancy or shows how to reconstruct the sentences so the structure flows more smoothly.
Deducting information is a major component of the SHL Verbal Reasoning Test. There are questions with answers not directly written in the passage. The written information only offers clues but not answers. You need to solve the puzzle yourself. Analyze the information and see what the possible answer might be.
4. SHL Inductive Reasoning Test
The SHL Inductive Test has two versions. The interactive version contains 15 questions that you need to answer in 18 minutes. The non-interactive SHL Inductive Reasoning Test has 18 questions that you have 24 minutes to complete.
In both inductive reasoning tests, you will be shown a series of patterns and shapes. Candidates need to find the logical pattern and rules in the given series. You will be asked to select the next shapes or answer the commonality of the figures.
Since the SHL Inductive Reasoning Test is highly logical and challenges your attention to detail, candidates with a stronger mathematical sense will find the task easier. You need to exercise your calculation in figuring out the likelihood of a certain pattern coming up next.
5. SHL Deductive Reasoning Test
There are two types of the SHL Deductive Reasoning Test. The interactive version contains 12 questions that need to be answered in 18 minutes. The non-interactive version, on the other hand, has 18 questions that need to be completed in 20 minutes.
In both SHL Deductive Reasoning Tests, you need to arrive at the correct explanation, conclusion, or assumption based on the information, tables, or charts given. In these tests, you will find a huge chunk of crucial information missing. It is not possible to complete the task with the written information directly. Each sentence contains clues and hints as to how the event develops.
Taking the SHL Deductive Reasoning Test can be tricky because there can be multiple ways to solve problems. However, candidates must remember that this is a deductive test. Instead of writing up a logical explanation, you are expected to eliminate the unlikely choices.
You do not necessarily need to what is the correct answer. You just need to know for sure what is an incorrect answer. This is how the test separates elites from the rest. Therefore, after deducting all the impossible answers, you are left with the most logical ones.
What SHL Tests Will I Receive?
The SHL tests are comprehensive and cover most fields that are essential in daily operations. The five tests detailed above are the most popular tests administrated. Oftentimes, multiple tests are given together to better dissect the skillset of candidates. It is not surprising to receive half a dozen SHL test invites at once.
Some of these tests are interchangeable and compensate for each other. That’s why administrating them together consolidates the reliability of the results. A candidate that scores high on average is guaranteed to perform better than one with fluctuating results.
Remember: there are other types of SHL assessment tests, such as the SHL Situational Judgement Test, which focuses on the decision-making skills of the candidates in work scenarios, and the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire, which evaluates the personality traits and behavioral preferences of the test-taker in the workplace. These SHL tests help employers significantly in their recruitment process.
SHL Practice Test Questions and Answers
Sample Question 1:
Life in urban environments presents a paradox for birds, as it is more challenging for them to reach maturity compared to birds in rural areas. However, if urban birds survive their first year, they exhibit increased resilience and adaptability.
Is the statement below true, false, or cannot be determined based on the given information:
Urban birds show increased resilience and adaptability after their first year.
c. Cannot Say
Answer: C. Cannot Say
Sample Question 2:
Determine which answer is the same as the one given in the shortest time possible:
Answer: D. RFNEID
Sample Question 3:
Research shows that reading books is associated with various cognitive benefits, such as improved memory, increased vocabulary, and enhanced critical thinking skills. People who read at least one book per week have a 25 percent lower risk of developing age-related cognitive decline compared to those who do not read. This association holds true for both fiction and non-fiction books, indicating that the benefits are not specific to a particular genre.
People who read two or more books per week have a 50 percent higher chance of experiencing cognitive decline compared to those who read one book per week.
C. Cannot say
Answer: B. False
Explanation: The passage states that people who read at least one book per week have a 25 percent lower risk of cognitive decline, compared to those who do not read.
How Do I Pass the SHL Assessment Test?
1. Take practice tests
There is no preparation better than taking tests. There are many practice SHL tests available online. However, keep in mind that not all of these online tests are created equal. Make sure to get copies of SHL practice tests made by experts.
We recommend the SHL test offered by Job Test Prep, an online resource library dedicated to helping students ace their pre-employment tests. The library has thousands of practice tests available for many tests that you will encounter in applying for jobs.
They have an updated practice test that ensures you get multiple exam sets for each SHL cognitive test. You will also receive study guides. Aside from these, the set of tests provides not only the correct answer but explanation for each. This way, you will know why you got the right or the wrong answers, helping you prepare and study better for the SHL test.
Of course, taking practice SHL tests is not enough. It is important that you take these seriously to pass the SHL tests. Doing so requires you to take down notes, review, and dedicate time and effort to each SHL test type and ensure that you address your weaknesses.
2. Read the job description carefully
You cannot cheat on an aptitude test. Your ability is visibly shown in your answers. Employers will determine your candidacy with your final scores. Some skills take years to acquire and master. Remember that at the end of the day, the practice tests and revision notes are here to strengthen your existing knowledge and consolidate your core skills. Nothing is meant for you to learn something new within days.
Go through your online job application again and read the job description carefully if you think the test you are invited to does not align with your skill set. Check to see if you have applied for a job not suitable for you.
Companies may assign different duties to the same role. It is common for people to get confused as two jobs with the same titles entail two completely opposite skill sets. In some companies, the role of an office administrator means handling data entry and compiling charts. In other companies, the role serves functions similar to a receptionist that handles phone calls and organizes appointments.
Make sure you have applied to a job that fits your capability. If you realize you do not have the corresponding skills to pass the test, it is perfectly fine to politely decline the test. You do not want to get a job that you are not qualified for because it will take a short time before your colleagues and supervisors find out. Being incompetent in your role can adversely affect your career reputation.
3. Start with your weaknesses
When preparing for any exam, start by tackling the most difficult sections for you. If you are weak in identifying patterns, take more practice tests on it. Your mind and brain need time to digest and absorb knowledge. It does not happen overnight. You need to reserve an abundant amount of time to familiarize yourself with the new knowledge.
After you have mastered the new skill, you can start revising other parts of the exam and practice what you already know. That being said, this will only work if you have sufficient time before your SHL test.
If you have a short time frame, you should highly consider skipping the difficult part and focusing on other parts so that you can secure good scores. When the exam date is getting too close, it is not worth it to start acquiring a new skill because you will likely fail that part. It is better to go over other parts to ensure a high accuracy rate instead.
4. Highlight keywords in the question
Always highlight the keywords in a question as it facilitates your thinking and reasoning. When you come back to check your answers, the highlighted words can reduce the time and effort needed to crosscheck your answer.
In some sections, questions are long with irrelevant information to mislead you. As you are distilling down vital information, highlighting the sentence or even erasing useless words can help your mind stay sharp.
5. Get enough rest
Avoid pulling an all-nighter since it rarely works. It will only drain your brain energy and you will be slow at answering. Give your brain a good night’s rest. Start your day with a delicious breakfast and tackle the test with a big smile. Lack of sleep will easily lead to emotional distress, which will lead to poor performance.
Is the SHL Test Difficult?
As a widely used test provider in the UK, the SHL tests are not known to be dauntingly difficult. Most candidates and employers would agree that the tests are reasonably designed to assess the level of proficiency of a candidate’s skills.
Since the SHL tests put you in direct competition against your fellow applicants, the content of the test aims to separate your ability. Therefore, you need to look out for trick questions and understand the answer key to present your answer in a logical manner.
How Is the SHL Test Scored?
The SHL tests adopt the bell curve grading system. Even if you find the test extremely difficult, as long as other candidates also find it hard, you will still pass at 50%.
The test is not only taking into account your ability but also how your ability is compared to your competitors. It is a fair way for candidates to understand how proficient they are at certain tasks.
The duration of the SHL tests varies but they all last around 18 to 40 minutes. As SHL offers over 70 different tests, there are some outliers with a more extreme timeline given.
What Is a Good SHL Score?
SHL tests are graded on a percentage scale. Scoring between 40% and 50% is considered average and meets the minimum passing requirement. However, it may not impress employers. On the other hand, achieving a score of 90% places you in the top 10% of candidates, greatly enhancing your chances of getting hired.
While it is natural to be anxious about taking the SHL exam, there is no need to get overwhelmed. Allowing your nerves to get the best of you can spell disastrous results. So, for you to pass SHL tests, it’s important to keep your cool and build your confidence.
Fortunately, there are practice tests available that cover all SHL test types. By taking the time to do practice assessments and reviewing your right and wrong answers, you can ensure that you will get a good SHL test score. You will little by little improve your confidence.
Therefore, it is really up to you if you will do well in the actual exam. Remember, aptitude tests require proper preparation. So, start moving to pass SHL tests that come your way.
Start downloading practice tests at Job Test Prep and review the SHL style questions and ace the SHL assessment with ease.
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Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.