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SHL Aptitude Test – A Complete Study Guide with Practice Questions

Last Updated on February 16, 2023

The SHL tests are likely to pop up several times in your job-hunting process. You may be asked to take one or several SHL tests as part of the pre-employment assessments.

The SHL tests contain over 70 different tests that employers adopt to assess the candidacy of applicants. Your problem-solving, logical reasoning, numerical senses, and more are assessed.

Have SHL tests coming up? Take a look at this full study guide to better equip yourself with relevant skills and knowledge.

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What is an 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. 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 call bank 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.

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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 test designs and content 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 distil 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, which are the interactive one and the non-interactive one. 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. 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 this test. In the interactive version, you need to answer 10 questions in 18 minutes. As for the non-Interactive, 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.

You may be asked to construct a diagram with the data points provided but more of the time, you are asked to answer questions based on the information given in the chart. Basic mathematical formulas are involved. Candidates are expected to demonstrate strong numerical reasoning skills.

Advanced mathematical formulas are rarely used. 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. SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is designed to assess your comprehension and presentation skills. A passage with scattered information is given to you. From the information available, 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. 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 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. To learn more about verbal reasoning tests, read here.

4. SHL Inductive Reasoning Test

The interactive version contains 15 questions. You need to answer them in 18 minutes. The non-Interactive has 18 questions that you have 24 minutes to complete. In the SHL Inductive Reasoning test, a series of patterns and shapes are shown.

Among them, candidates need to find the logical pattern and rules in placing them. You will be asked to select the next shapes or answer the commonality of the figures.

Since this 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

If you are taking the interactive version, you will get 12 questions in 18 minutes. If you are doing the non-Interactive version, you need to complete 18 questions in 20 minutes. In the SHL Deductive Reasoning test, you need to arrive at the correct explanation, conclusion, or assumption based on the information, tables, or charts given.

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 to how the event develops.

Taking this 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.

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What test SHL tests will I receive?

The SHL tests are comprehensive and cover most fields that are essential in daily operation. The five tests 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.

Read: SHL Test Results – How Do I Get the Best Score?

Although these are the top five SHL tests that are the most frequently used, the SHL tests cover plenty more aspects in-depth for companies looking for specific talents.

How to prepare for the SHL tests?

student preparing for shl test

1. Take practice tests

There is no preparation better than participating in the tests. Get your own copy of study tests from experts that know about the SHL tests inside out. Job Test Prep is an online resource library dedicated to helping students ace their pre-employment tests. The library has thousands of practice tests available for every test you have ever heard of.

The 2023 edition is not only the most updated but also the most all-rounded in sourcing and data-building. You will get multiple exam sets for each SHL test, study guides, and revision notes to break down the overwhelming process for you.

By choosing Job Test Prep, you get a ton of benefits like staying connected with the excellent customer service staff 24/7, a money-back guarantee, personalized score reports, and unlimited access to the database.

2. Read the job description carefully

You cannot cheat on an aptitude test. Your ability is visibly shown with 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 revisions 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 skillset. 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 skillsets. 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 for 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 with 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 that you can secure 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.

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Are the SHL tests 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.

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Now that you know all about the SHL tests, there is no need to be afraid. Download your practice tests and revision notes on Job Test Prep to take a clear look at what it is like to answer SHL test questions. Get your study mode on and get ready to ace the tests!

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