Our Top verbal reasoning test tips
- Be systematic. Skim the passage first to get a general sense of the content. Then read it more closely before answering the questions.
- Base your answers solely on the information presented in the passage. Don’t be influenced by any of your outside knowledge.
- Look out for key words and phrases that emphasise particular points. Consider the emphasis given to a statement by one or two key words. Many questions will refer back to sentences in the passage that used key words.
- Watch out for transition words, such as although, instead, yet, however, and alternatively. When such transition words are used, a contrasting point is being made.
- Look out for absolute terms, using words such as never, none, unique, only, all. Be wary of words such as usually, sometimes, generally, typically, or many.
- Another set of key words to look out for are proposition words such as: believes, claims, suggests, advocates and recommends. Statements involving these words are not necessarily facts, so don’t treat them as such.
- Make a mental note of words and phrases that indicate a cause and effect. For example, you may be asked to interpret statements with ’cause and effect’ words. For example, since, because, therefore, so, thus, due to, and as a result.
- Words such as possibly, perhaps or maybe imply that there is a possibility of something happening. Be wary of treating conjecture or speculation as a definite outcome. For example, certain would mean one thing in a question. If coupled in the passage with the word almost, then the meaning is quite different.
- The best way to prepare for a verbal reasoning test is to do practise questions that closely mirror the actual test you’ll be taking. But there are also many everyday ways you can improve your verbal reasoning skills. For example reading a wide range of challenging books, newspapers and magazines.
Verbal Reasoning test tips
Watch out for certain keywords and phrases in either the passage or question (or both!). These keywords often act as the link between different pieces of information. In many cases they qualify the information that has been given. When you come across keywords in passages and questions you need to focus on their precise meanings.
Contrast words verbal reasoning test tips
Spain has always been a popular tourist destination, however it now faces competition from cheaper resorts in other countries.
You need to pay careful attention to the information that follows the contrast word. This is often the key to answering the question.
Is the answer to the following statement True, False, or Cannot tell: Spain is unrivalled as a tourist destination. The answer is False. The sentence says that Spain has always been popular, Then goes on to say that it now faces competition.
Propositions tips example:
The author claims that his book will improve your verbal reasoning test performance.
Is the answer to the following statement True, False, or Cannot tell: This book will improve your verbal reasoning test performance. Yes, there is a very good chance that this book will improve your performance if used properly. However, this is not a fact so the answer has to be Cannot tell.
Comparisons tips example:
There is less unemployment in the UK today than at any other point in the past decade.
So, it follows that unemployment rates are lower than they were five years ago.
Absolutes and generalisations tips example:
UK Most educators agree that excessive television viewing usually damages a child’s concentration.
If faced with the statement: Excessive television always damages a child’s concentration you might be tempted to answer True. The answer is, in fact, False – because the word usually tells you that this is a high possibility, not a guaranteed effect.
So, to summarise: don’t assume that usually means the same as always. In the world of verbal reasoning tests, such words are miles apart!
Cause and effect
After doing lots of practise tests you will come to recognise cause and effect words and phrases. These include: since, because, for, so, consequently, as a result, thus, therefore, due to and hence. It is a good idea to focus on these as often a question will ask you to interpret how these words have been used to link different aspects of an issue or argument together. There are subtle differences between these words and phrases, as some signal stronger causal relationships than others. A word like because indicates a direct causal link. The word so also joins facts together but does not necessarily mean that it was the first fact that led to the second.
More verbal reasoning test tips
- Firstly, the introductory statement. What points are made?
- Secondly, the main body of the text. What does this explore/detail?
- Thirdly, the final statement(s). What details are provided here?
- Fourthly, the final summary at the end of the passage, what point, if any, is it making?
Finally, ask yourself again. Do I have a sufficient understanding to answer the set of questions? If the answer is yes, then you are ready to carefully read the first question. You may only need to read the passage in full twice if you already know where to find the relevant information. Remember that the passage will always be there for reference. So you don’t need to memorise it.
Don’t worry if the subject matter in the passage is unfamiliar to you. Many of the passages you read will be about areas in which you have no interest or background knowledge. Nor do you need to apply any outside knowledge of the subject.
A reading comprehension task requires you to extract the relevant information to answer each question. Each question will relate to a particular part, or parts, of the passage.
Verbal Reasoning tips examples
1) As a result of oversubscription, Adam did not get a place on the philosophy course.
2) The philosophy course was oversubscribed so Adam enrolled in a different class.
What is the answer if you are asked: Did Adam get a place on the philosophy course? In the first sentence, you know that he did not. The second sentence is more ambiguous. Perhaps Adam got a place, but opted out of the overcrowded course.
Be careful not to mix up causal words with words such as then, next, after and later. These words indicate a chronological sequence rather than a causal effect. For example, then does not imply that one thing caused another to happen, only that it happened after.
Verbal Reasoning tip – Speculation
Look out for words or phrases indicating speculation, such as perhaps, probably, possibly and maybe. Words such as may, might and can also point to the possibility of something happening. You need to tread carefully with such phrases – they do not mean the suggested outcome is guaranteed, only that it is a possibility.
If you are told – The team is almost certain to win the championship – you should not interpret this as meaning that the team will definitely win. It is just speculation, even if there are good reasons for making that prediction.
Verbal Reasoning tips example
Conglomerate Plc announced redundancies in its accounts team, as well as job losses in its logistics and human resources departments.
You may be asked to say whether the following statement is True or False: Conglomerate Plc made redundancies in three parts of its business. The answer would be True because the statement mentions job losses in accounts, logistics and human resources.
‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test Design
Specific design criteria were applied. Sufficient administration time was made available for a test taker to exhibit the appropriate reasoning ability.
Other design criteria related to the target population groups. For example, this form of verbal reasoning test does not require the candidate to have any technical knowledge of grammar. Or to be able to spot minor errors in the spelling of unfamiliar words.
Practical examples are proved at the start of each test. Thus, test takers can familiarise themselves with the test format.
VERBAL REASONING TEST DESIGN RATIONALE
Many jobs involve working with verbal information and verbal comprehension forms a core component of almost all senior managerial roles. The ‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test measures the verbal reasoning skills that are fundamental to effective communication in such roles.
In many organisations, verbal reasoning skills are key to the effective dissemination of business information across the workforce.
‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test assesses how well an individual’s verbal reasoning skills can operate at a high-level. In our opinion, primarily understanding written communication. Although, ‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test also encompasses the ability to understand complex discussions.
Verbal reasoning is central to many roles. Thus the ‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test is appropriate for a very wide range of senior job roles and tasks.
VERBAL REASONING TEST FORMAT
Many graduate and senior managerial roles require quickly extracting relevant information from written documents. And to make a judgement based on this information. Thus ‘Bespoke’ Verbal Reasoning Test measures the ability to read. And to interpret a detailed block of text under strictly timed conditions.
The verbal information in the test appears in the form of passages of text. Each is followed by a series of 4 multiple-choice questions. Each question requires relevant pieces of information to be extracted from the passage.And a specific judgement to be made on the basis of that information.
After reading a passage the test taker has to read a series of statements referring back to information contained within the passage. The test taker has to identify whether the statement is true. Or false. Or whether it is not possible to tell. Then to decide which is the appropriate multiple-choice answer to fill in.
Each answer must be based solely on the information presented in the passage – ignoring any background knowledge that the test taker may possess. The questions must also be answered without any interference from the test taker’s own beliefs about the subject matter.
This reflects work conditions where there is a need to make objective decisions based solely on the information available at that moment in time.
Number of Items: 48
Test Time: 25 minutes
Time needed for Administration (including Test Time): 35 minutes
EXAMPLE APTITUDE ITEM
For each statement, fill in either T, F or CS on the answer sheet.
These corresponds to your decision as to whether the statement is True. False. Or whether it is not possible to tell.
CS: Cannot Say
Verbal Reasoning Test Prep
Whether you are aware of it or not, you use your verbal reasoning test skills when following a new recipe, reading a notice at a train station, applying for a bank account, or browsing through holiday brochures.
Of course, the best way to improve your performance is always through practice. You’ll get the most benefit if you practise with questions that mirror the exact test you are preparing to take.
There are many skills that you can practise in advance. The test-taker needs to concentrate, pay attention to detail and interpret the meaning of individual words and phrases as well as analysing the overall meaning of a text passage. When answering individual questions the test-taker needs to focus on extracting the relevant verbal information. Imagine yourself as an eagle, circling over the overall passage and then swooping down to zero in on your prey – i.e. the bit of information needed to answer the question correctly.
Different types of verbal reasoning test
Broadly speaking, the earlier in an assessment process that you are being asked to complete a verbal reasoning test the more important it is to pass. Candidates who do not pass are sifted out of the process, allowing employers to focus on applicants whose skills are most suitable for the job.
Effective verbal reasoning skills are also one of the selection criteria for certain professions
We offer many practice verbal reasoning tests including LNAT practice test tips.
Verbal reasoning tests allow employers and university admissions officers to assess such skills of a large number of applicants in a standardised way. The same verbal reasoning test is given to a large number of applicants, which increases the fairness of the application process – whilst also making the process more efficient. A well-designed verbal reasoning test offers both a reliable and a valid means of assessment.
Aptitude Test Practice Strategies
Firstly, skim read the passage to get a rough idea of its content.
Secondly, skim read the questions to get a rough idea of the level of difficulty and the sorts of things that you are going to be asked. Steps 1 and 2 will prepare you for the level of complexity and the time that you need to spend answering the questions.
Thirdly, read the passage again! Go through the passage again but read it more carefully this time. Do not spend time trying to memorise the details. Instead, think in broad terms about the different areas that the passage is covering. Try to make mental notes about where the specific pieces of information relating to each area are located in the passage.
Fourthly, try to get a broad sense of what you are going to be asked in each question and to know where this information was covered within the passage. Ask yourself: Am I in a suitable position to answer the questions? For more complex passages the answer to this will be no. Read the passage a third time. Try to identify the pieces of information in the passage that seem particularly important.
Verbal Reasoning tips example:
UK Most educators agree that excessive television viewing usually damages a child’s concentration.
If faced with the statement: Excessive television always damages a child’s concentration you might be tempted to answer True. The answer is in fact False – because the word usually tells you that this is a high possibility, not a guaranteed effect.
Cause and effect
You will come to recognise cause and effect words and phrases. These include: since, because, for, so, consequently, as a result, thus, therefore, due to and hence.
There are subtle differences between these words and phrases, as some signal stronger causal relationships than others. A word like because indicates a direct causal link. The word so also joins facts together but does not necessarily mean that it was the first fact that led to the second.
Verbal Reasoning tips example:
Spain has always been a popular tourist destination, however, it now faces competition from cheaper resorts in other countries.
You need to pay careful attention to the information that follows the contrast word as it is often the key to answering the question.
Is the answer to the following statement True, False, or Cannot tell: Spain is unrivalled as a tourist destination. The answer is False. The sentence says that Spain has always been popular, but goes on to say that it now faces competition.
Who needs good verbal reasoning skills?
As you’ve seen above, everyone needs to have basic verbal reasoning skills to survive daily life. And good verbal reasoning skills are a key prerequisite for many different jobs. Any job that involves frequent communication requires verbal reasoning skills.
At the graduate and managerial levels, many jobs require the interpretation and critical analysis of complex verbal information.
Let’s have a look at a typical office environment and how different workers use verbal reasoning skills to perform their duties.
Why do I need verbal reasoning test practice?
Verbal reasoning ability links to job performance. This is why verbal reasoning tests are so popular for firstly job selection. Secondly, for entrance to certain professions and postgraduate degree courses. Only those where it is essential to work effectively with verbal information.
Many medium-sized and large employers also make extensive use of ability tests. For example, verbal reasoning tests. This is part of their standard recruitment and promotion processes. Ability tests differentiate high from low performers.
A well-designed verbal reasoning test is a reliable and consistent assessment. It focuses on those verbal skills required for effective work performance.
Ability tests allow employers and university admissions offices to assess a large number of applicants for competitive positions in a standardised way. The same ability test can be given to a large number of applicants. Their results are an efficient means of comparision. This standardisation makes the process much fairer. When compared to old-fashioned, unstructured interviews.
There are many, many different types of verbal reasoning test. These aim at a general level (e.g. graduate tests). Or at a specific career path (e.g. for medical school or law school). There is a corresponding range in difficulty.
Top Ten verbal reasoning test tips
- Practice has been shown to improve test results. So get in all the practice you can before the big day! Then, it will be easier for you to get into the right mind-set on your actual test day.
- Ensure that your practice material is as close as possible to your actual test. Find out in advance as much as you can about this verbal reasoning test.
- Set aside a quiet time when you are unlikely to be disturbed to practice. To do well on the test you’ll need to stay completely focussed. So use high levels of concentration in your practice sessions as well.
- Pace yourself. Aim for a calm but efficient approach and work systematically, tackling one question at a time. The goal is to complete as many of the questions as possible in the time allowed. If you work too fast, you’ll make unnecessary mistakes. If you go too slow then you won’t complete enough questions.
Top Ten verbal reasoning test tips Part 2
- If in doubt, double check that you have read the statement correctly. Check that you understood exactly what the question is asking you. Misreading a question can cost you points. Similarly, misreading instructions is a potentially disastrous mistake. So make sure you fully understand the instructions before you begin.
- Stay positive. If you find yourself struggling with a question, remember that every question is worth exactly the same. Rememebr, it’s just one point. You won’t be expected to get every question right. Or even to complete every question, to pass the test. Aim firstly to do your best. Secondly, to answer as many correctly as possible.
- You won’t succeed if you guess all your answers. However, if time is running out it makes sense to guess. Putting the same answer option for all your remaining questions may get you a few extra points. So go for it!
- Learn from your mistakes. You will probably get some of the practice questions wrong. Review the correct answers. Thus you will fully understand where you went wrong and how you need to approach such questions next time around.
- Check your average time per question when you review your results. Do you need to pick up your pace? Do you need to slow down?
- Get a good night’s sleep before the test so that you will be fully rested and able to perform to the best of your abilities. Give yourself plenty of time so that you arrive a the testing location with time to spare.
Verbal reasoning test practice for Managerial roles
Most managers will need to use higher levels of verbal reasoning when reading or preparing reports. They need to be able to adapt their spoken and written communication style to the situation, whether addressing their subordinates or customers/ clients. Other company reporting procedures, such as appraisals, also require clearly written documentation.
Senior managers and directors will need to use the highest levels of verbal reasoning skills when analysing company reports, dealing with compliance issues and statutory obligations. Here there is a need for concise and accurate communication.
Verbal reasoning test practice for Customer service roles
Effective oral communication is the key to handling customer queries or sales calls. Talking to customers on the phone or face to face demands a flexible communication style. For example, telesales personnel would be expected to respond differently to a customer who was complaining than to one who was a prospective sale. Persuasive presentation skills also rely upon a solid foundation of verbal reasoning skills.
Verbal reasoning test practice for PA or administrative roles
A PA’s responsibilities typically include written correspondence. For example, letters and emails, which need to use an appropriate tone and level for the intended audience. Administrative roles also need to check written documents. Also, to file these accurately. Plus, to keep on top of plans and procedures that have been agreed orally or in writing.
Verbal reasoning practice tests – Sales roles
Effective oral communication is the key for converting sales call prospects. In particular, sales roles in call centres which require an even more fluent style of communication style.
How to do well on SHL abstract reasoning tests
SHL abstract reasoning tests ask you to look for the changing pattern(s) in the “pictures”. The easier questions typically at the start of the test, will involve one change in colour, position, size etc of the figures shown.
Questions become more difficult as you must spot two or three changes in any of the features shown. Once you know one of the feature changes, check each answer option to discount any in conflict with it.
You can find more detailed advice in our non-verbal reasoning test article for City Kids online magazine.
Aptitude test practice books
Rob Williams’s five practice aptitude tests books are all available on Amazon.
Firstly, in our opinion this is the best aptitude test practice book for Passing Verbal Reasoning Tests.
Secondly, in our opinion this is the best aptitude test practice book forPassing Numerical Reasoning Tests.
Reasoning Skills Practice
- Firstly, our aptitude test tips.
- Secondly, our Abstract Reasoning Test Practice.
- Thirdly, our critical reasoning tips.
- Fourthly, more critical reasoning test practice.
- Then, our LNAT tutoring.
- Plus, then, our LNAT Practice Tips.
- And finally, our LNAT Practice Tests.
- Then, our Literacy Test Practice.
- And also then our verbal and numerical reasoning test practice.
- Plus, our UCAT Tips.
- Finally, our UCAT Decision Analysis practice tests.