What are SHL tests?
SHL is a leading brand of psychometric tests, used by a huge range of organisations. Such tests are often a key element in graduate recruitment campaigns, where achieving a particular level of performance is necessary to progress further through the selection process.
Aptitude tests such as those produced by SHL aim to assess an individual’s maximum ability in a competency that has been identified as important for success in the role. An example would be numerical reasoning for a quantitative position.
How SHL tests work in practice
SHL tests are typically completed electronically in the first phase. Candidates are emailed a link to the tests they need to complete and will be given a limited (and usually challenging) amount of time to complete the test. To prevent cheating, successful candidates must usually sit a second test, where they will be watched by an invigilator to verify their performance. This second test will typically take place during a company assessment day.
SHL tests aim to put candidates under pressure in order to identify their maximum level of performance. This is then compared to the maximum ability level of a reference group (known as a norm group). This norm group is typically composed of individuals with similar characteristics to the candidate (e.g. age, nationality and educational level). Ability is calculated relative to the norm group and compared to a pre-defined cut off point, which represents the minimum ability needed to be successful in the role.
How to prepare for SHL tests
Online tests will familiarise you with the type of questions you are likely to encounter and give you a ‘feel’ for how to solve them. They will also help you identify any gaps in your knowledge that you may benefit from revising – this is particularly true for numerical and mechanical reasoning tests. You may also want to download this free ebook, which covers numerical, verbal, abstract and spatial reasoning tests, with practice questions included.
Bear in mind that SHL tests have challenging time limits. This means that to be successful you need to work quickly and accurately. Practice tests can help you work out how fast you need to be working and what that feels like in a test situation. You ideally want to get to a position where you can pretty immediately understand what the question is looking for and how to solve it, so that you can spend your time working out the answer rather than puzzling over what the question is asking.
Practice tests also help you familiarise yourself with the format and how questions are presented so that you know what to expect when you access your proper test for the first time. This can help you feel comfortable and confident, and is a great way of reducing any anxiety you might feel about the tests.
Take a Free Practice Numerical, Verbal and Diagrammatic Test
If you would like to practise simulation numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning tests, please try the ones below, which were created by WikiJob in association with psychometric experts, and which are closely modelled on real tests.
The numerical test consists of 10 questions to be answered in 10 minutes, while the diagrammatic and verbal tests consist of 5/10 questions to be answered in 5 minutes (although there is no timer on the test itself). Our tests are slightly harder than the real thing, in order to make them sufficiently challenging practice. Don't forget to first check out the test tips and techniques mentioned further down this page.
You can take the tests as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below on either to get started.
If those were useful, you may also like to try our psychometric tests app, available for both Apple and Android, which includes 10 numerical tests and 8 verbal tests. The tests include a timer and worked solutions at the end.
For better or worse, tests are a fundamental part of many companies’ application process.
Different types of SHL tests
A wide range of SHL tests is available but the main ones are:
Numerical reasoning. These test your ability to understand and use numerical or statistical data. They typically display some data, often in the form of a graph or table, and the candidate must use this information in order to answer the question.
Verbal reasoning. These test your ability to understand and critically evaluate passages of written information. They typically comprise a passage of information and the candidate is required to identify whether, based on the information in the passage, the statements following are true, untrue or whether it is impossible to say.
Inductive reasoning. These test your ability to recognise and understand patterns and relationships between bits of information. They are the purest test of ‘generalised’ intelligence as they are not reliant on numerical or verbal ability. Candidates are typically presented with a series of shapes or patterns and must identify the missing or next shape or pattern in the sequence.
Mechanical comprehension. These test your ability to understand and apply basic mechanical principles. They usually include questions relating to cogs, pulleys, springs and levers, where the candidate must use their mechanical knowledge to calculate the correct answer.
Spatial awareness. These test your ability to understand and manipulate the spatial dimensions of shapes. They often include questions about rotation or reflection, or mentally creating 3D shapes from 2D plans.
Situational judgement tests. Psychological tests that assess your judgement in resolving work-based problems.
SHL test tips and best technique
These five tips are well worth remembering before you take any SHL test for real:
- Make sure you have enough time to finish the test.
- Take the tests at the best time of day for you.
- Take the tests in a suitable, quiet environment.
- Have a pen and paper to hand.
- Don’t rush, and take breaks between tests.
Techniques for numerical reasoning tests
Candidates should specifically prepare to answer questions involving:
- Inflation rates
- Balance sheets
- Graphs/data interpretation
Read more about tips for numerical reasoning tests.
Techniques for verbal reasoning tests
For the verbal reasoning tests, candidates should attempt to read as many newspapers and magazines as possible, concentrating specifically on commercial awareness issues. Candidates should attempt to analyse articles and practise deciphering difficult information quickly.
Read more about tips for verbal reasoning tests.
Restarting the SHL test
SHL tests have been designed to automatically restart if a candidate’s computer loses power, suffers mechanical failure, or is accidentally turned off during a live test.
Consequently, do not worry if your computer loses power during your test. You will be given another chance to take the test from the beginning when you have logged back in to the test system.
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