Verbal Reasoning Test

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Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal Reasoning Test

Updated 26 September 2021

Written by the WikiJob Team

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Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal reasoning is the ability to understand and logically work through concepts and problems expressed in words.

Verbal reasoning tests tell employers how well a candidate can extract and work with meaning, information and implications from text. They provide a useful indication of how you will be perceived by colleagues and, in particular, how you will relate and interact with customers.

As such, they are widely used in the recruitment process, since most jobs require you to understand and make decisions based on verbal or written information.

What Is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning is a test designed to assess English comprehension. It may include making deductions from text, word meanings and more, but the most common format is a passage of text with multiple-choice questions below.

What to Expect on a Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal tests evaluate your ability to:

  • Spell words correctly
  • Use accurate grammar
  • Understand analogies
  • Analyse detailed written information

Such tests depend on your understanding of the precise meaning of words, idioms and the structure of the English language. This means that native speakers of English have a distinct advantage over those who speak it as a second language, even if this is at a high standard.

In most cases, the questions will have you read a passage of text, and then assess whether a given statement related to that text is true, false or if you cannot say (in other words, whether there is insufficient information in the text to say for sure).

Some tests will have longer passages of text to read through and multiple questions per passage. Others may have very short passages, but only one or two questions on each. The way to approach them is identical: read the text carefully and thoroughly, and then assess the given statement.

Though the test format may vary, typically you will have between 30 seconds and 2 minutes to answer each question. Consequently, working quickly and accurately is vital. Practice will be beneficial.

It’s essential to not make assumptionsas you take the test. In other words, use only the information presented, as additional facts (not presented as part of the question), will never contribute to the answer, even if those facts are common knowledge. The tests assess verbal reasoning, not general knowledge.

There are two distinct types of verbal ability questions. They can be divided into speed tests, which don’t require much reasoning ability and power tests that do:

  1. Spelling, grammar and word meanings. Very little reasoning is involved; you either know the answer or you don’t. These are normally speed tests and consist of 30 to 40 questions that need to be completed in 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Comprehension and reasoning. These questions are designed to measure your problem-solving abilities. They take the form of passages of text that you need to read before answering a series of questions that measure your ability to understand concepts and ideas expressed verbally. These can be relatively straightforward comprehension exercises or more complex statements, where you will need to make notes about what you can deduce from each part of the text before attempting to answer the question.

While verbal tests are designed to measure reasoning ability rather than educational achievement, it is generally recognised that verbal reasoning test scores are strongly influenced by your educational and cultural background.

Try this test before reading more:

Verbal Reasoning Practice Test

This is a practice verbal reasoning test that simulates a real verbal reasoning aptitude test. 

The test has 10 questions and you should aim to complete the test within 5 minutes.

All questions are multiple-choice. 

Make sure you read a question in full before answering.

Answers and explanations to the questions are provided at the end of the test.

Verbal Reasoning: question 1 of 10

The gas provider Centrica has seen its half-year profits fall by 20% to £992 million. Despite this it has decided to increase its dividend to shareholders to 3.9p per share. The rise in energy prices released before the announcement of Centrica's profits was designed, said the company, to restore "reasonable profitability". The chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said, "We produced a good set of results in tough market conditions... we will continue to concentrate on improving customer service in British Gas..." This is an interesting statement given the record rise in prices to households. The announcement of profits which are not far off one billion pounds, a day after the announcement of the rise in price and the increase in dividend to shareholders, is likely to provoke angry reaction. Many will question the extent of the market power that Centrica possesses. There will also be those that will question what the phrase 'reasonable profitability' means in the context of profits of nearly one billion pounds.

Companies increase shareholder dividends when profits fall.


Verbal Reasoning: question 2 of 10

The gas provider Centrica has seen its half-year profits fall by 20% to £992 million. Despite this it has decided to increase its dividend to shareholders to 3.9p per share. The rise in energy prices released before the announcement of Centrica's profits was designed, said the company, to restore "reasonable profitability". The chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said, "We produced a good set of results in tough market conditions... we will continue to concentrate on improving customer service in British Gas..." This is an interesting statement given the record rise in prices to households. The announcement of profits which are not far off one billion pounds, a day after the announcement of the rise in price and the increase in dividend to shareholders, is likely to provoke angry reaction. Many will question the extent of the market power that Centrica possesses. There will also be those that will question what the phrase 'reasonable profitability' means in the context of profits of nearly one billion pounds.

One way companies can restore profitability is to increase prices.


Verbal Reasoning: question 3 of 10

The gas provider Centrica has seen its half-year profits fall by 20% to £992 million. Despite this it has decided to increase its dividend to shareholders to 3.9p per share. The rise in energy prices released before the announcement of Centrica's profits was designed, said the company, to restore "reasonable profitability". The chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said, "We produced a good set of results in tough market conditions... we will continue to concentrate on improving customer service in British Gas..." This is an interesting statement given the record rise in prices to households. The announcement of profits which are not far off one billion pounds, a day after the announcement of the rise in price and the increase in dividend to shareholders, is likely to provoke angry reaction. Many will question the extent of the market power that Centrica possesses. There will also be those that will question what the phrase 'reasonable profitability' means in the context of profits of nearly one billion pounds.

Centrica's half-year profits are not far off one million pounds.


Verbal Reasoning: question 4 of 10

The gas provider Centrica has seen its half-year profits fall by 20% to £992 million. Despite this it has decided to increase its dividend to shareholders to 3.9p per share. The rise in energy prices released before the announcement of Centrica's profits was designed, said the company, to restore "reasonable profitability". The chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, said, "We produced a good set of results in tough market conditions... we will continue to concentrate on improving customer service in British Gas..." This is an interesting statement given the record rise in prices to households. The announcement of profits which are not far off one billion pounds, a day after the announcement of the rise in price and the increase in dividend to shareholders, is likely to provoke angry reaction. Many will question the extent of the market power that Centrica possesses. There will also be those that will question what the phrase 'reasonable profitability' means in the context of profits of nearly one billion pounds.

Announcing large profits, soon after announcing price rises, is likely to provoke angry reaction.


Verbal Reasoning: question 5 of 10

The brain has around one hundred billion cells (neurons). Brain cells make links that form neural pathways and it is these links that help us to learn. It is estimated that there might be as many as one hundred trillion such neural links although others have put the figure much higher - 1 with millions of zeros after it. The number of neural links has been likened to trying to imagine all the trees in the Amazon rainforest as the number of neurons and the number of leaves on every tree in the rainforest as the number of neural connections. Much of the new research into how the brain works has been boosted by the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. This technology allows us to be able to gain a greater understanding of the complex processes that are involved in normal human activity. Different parts of the brain can be shown to be more active in certain types of human physical and mental activity than others and whilst we still have much to learn about the brain, the leap in our understanding has not only helped the medical profession but also business and economics.

There are one hundred trillion neural links in the human brain.


Verbal Reasoning: question 6 of 10

The brain has around one hundred billion cells (neurons). Brain cells make links that form neural pathways and it is these links that help us to learn. It is estimated that there might be as many as one hundred trillion such neural links although others have put the figure much higher - 1 with millions of zeros after it. The number of neural links has been likened to trying to imagine all the trees in the Amazon rainforest as the number of neurons and the number of leaves on every tree in the rainforest as the number of neural connections. Much of the new research into how the brain works has been boosted by the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. This technology allows us to be able to gain a greater understanding of the complex processes that are involved in normal human activity. Different parts of the brain can be shown to be more active in certain types of human physical and mental activity than others and whilst we still have much to learn about the brain, the leap in our understanding has not only helped the medical profession but also business and economics.

MRI technology is useful to conduct research on the brain.


Verbal Reasoning: question 7 of 10

The brain has around one hundred billion cells (neurons). Brain cells make links that form neural pathways and it is these links that help us to learn. It is estimated that there might be as many as one hundred trillion such neural links although others have put the figure much higher - 1 with millions of zeros after it. The number of neural links has been likened to trying to imagine all the trees in the Amazon rainforest as the number of neurons and the number of leaves on every tree in the rainforest as the number of neural connections. Much of the new research into how the brain works has been boosted by the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. This technology allows us to be able to gain a greater understanding of the complex processes that are involved in normal human activity. Different parts of the brain can be shown to be more active in certain types of human physical and mental activity than others and whilst we still have much to learn about the brain, the leap in our understanding has not only helped the medical profession but also business and economics.

Improving our understanding about the brain is useful for sports.


Verbal Reasoning: question 8 of 10

The brain has around one hundred billion cells (neurons). Brain cells make links that form neural pathways and it is these links that help us to learn. It is estimated that there might be as many as one hundred trillion such neural links although others have put the figure much higher - 1 with millions of zeros after it. The number of neural links has been likened to trying to imagine all the trees in the Amazon rainforest as the number of neurons and the number of leaves on every tree in the rainforest as the number of neural connections. Much of the new research into how the brain works has been boosted by the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. This technology allows us to be able to gain a greater understanding of the complex processes that are involved in normal human activity. Different parts of the brain can be shown to be more active in certain types of human physical and mental activity than others and whilst we still have much to learn about the brain, the leap in our understanding has not only helped the medical profession but also business and economics.

Some parts of the brain are more active during creative activity.


Verbal Reasoning: question 9 of 10

In December 2006, Mars were fined by the Environment Agency for breaches of European carbon trading rules. The agency failed to submit the correct permits for the carbon it emitted in 2005, the first year of the scheme. Mars were fined Euro 78,000 for failing to obtain allowances for almost 2,000 tonnes of carbon. Under the European Union (EU) system, firms are given allowances for the amount of carbon they can emit. If they exceed their allowance, they must buy additional permits from other companies to cover the shortfall. According to the Environment Agency, Mars produced 1,952 tonnes of carbon. It did not submit permits to cover these emissions until nearly eight months after the deadline. Mars said in their defence that they had "not been discharging excess greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and in fact its emissions at the Peterborough facility have reduced."

The Environment Agency enforce European carbon trading rules.


Verbal Reasoning: question 10 of 10

In December 2006, Mars were fined by the Environment Agency for breaches of European carbon trading rules. The agency failed to submit the correct permits for the carbon it emitted in 2005, the first year of the scheme. Mars were fined Euro 78,000 for failing to obtain allowances for almost 2,000 tonnes of carbon. Under the European Union (EU) system, firms are given allowances for the amount of carbon they can emit. If they exceed their allowance, they must buy additional permits from other companies to cover the shortfall. According to the Environment Agency, Mars produced 1,952 tonnes of carbon. It did not submit permits to cover these emissions until nearly eight months after the deadline. Mars said in their defence that they had "not been discharging excess greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and in fact its emissions at the Peterborough facility have reduced."

In 2005, Mars produced 2,000 tonnes of carbon.


Check out our video for a short overview of what verbal reasoning tests aim to measure:

Verbal Ability Mini Test

We’ve got a realistic practice verbal reasoning test for you to take right here.

Created by WikiJob alongside psychometric experts and modelled on real tests, it should give an insight into how the test will go and what you need to work on.

The test has 10 questions which should be answered in around 5 minutes if you’re timing yourself, although the test itself doesn’t have a timer.

It’s designed to be slightly tougher than the real thing, so don’t worry if you struggle at first. To pass, you’ll need to score 70% or higher.

You can take the test as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.

Verbal Reasoning Practice Test 1

Verbal reasoning tests are used by interviewers to find out how well a candidate can assess verbal logic. SHL is perhaps the most well-known producer of verbal reasoning tests, and the most widely used.

Questions 10
Pass Percentage 80%
Time Limit 10 min

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Overview of Types of Verbal Tests

Verbal ability questions can be categorised into five groups, which we will explore in detail in the sections below:

In practice, the reasoning and deduction type of questions are usually restricted to graduate and management roles. However, the reverse does not apply: you may still encounter spelling and grammar questions in graduate and management level tests.

This article has been designed so that it is easier for you to practice the areas where you feel that you are weakest, giving you the greatest benefit in the shortest time. So, each practice test provided contains more questions of each type than you would get in a real test. They also ensure that you receive maximum exposure to as wide a variety of questions styles and types as possible.

It’s important to remember that a real test will contain a mixture of question types and that most tests allocate one mark to each correct answer – there is no differential marking. This means that you will get one mark for understanding the meaning of a word or for spelling it correctly, and you will get one mark for untangling the meaning of a complex sentence and answering a question about it.

Therefore, it makes sense to concentrate on improving your spelling and your precise understanding of commonly confused words, as both of these can gain you easy marks.

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Why Do Employers Use These Tests?

Psychometric tests have a long history behind them. Research over the past decades has shown a strong correlation between performance on these tests and performance in the workplace. It’s no wonder that employers everywhere make extensive use of them.

The verbal ability section of psychometric tests aims to ascertain a core skill set: the ability to work logically, accurately and intelligently with the written word.

Verbal ability tests are looking to assess how well a candidate can:

  • Think critically about a set of information
  • Come to logical conclusions
  • Compare different written texts to each other
  • Articulate relevant details and information to colleagues and clients

Verbal aptitude is, of course, a fundamental skill in the workplace. It’s key for communicating with others, reading and interpreting reports, discussing plans with clients or writing clear emails.

That’s the case even if the role is highly technical and doesn’t immediately seem to have much to do with words. You’ll still need to be able to communicate your work to others, act on communications and reports, and interpret textual data.

Many studies have shown that psychometric tests like the verbal ability test are a much better indication of your key skills than even a university degree.

What Makes Verbal Ability Tests Challenging?

All aptitude tests are challenging. They need to be or they wouldn’t tell employers very much about their candidates.

Let’s examine some areas that can cause difficulty with verbal reasoning tests specifically.

Time Limit

The most immediate difficulty that presents itself is time pressure. It’s not difficult to pore over a text slowly and then come to a conclusion. But it is difficult to reach that conclusion in a short time-frame.

For this reason, you must practice. Not only will you become more confident at working within the time limit, you’ll be more conditioned to focus on the key points of the text and the question. We recommend the verbal reasoning practice tests provided by JobTestPrep.

Practice Verbal Reasoning with JobTestPrep

Difficulty of Interpretation

Another thing that can trip you up, if you’re not the most confident reader, is the language itself.

Often, the text will be straightforward, business-like and relatively simple to understand, but you may come across language you’re unfamiliar with or a verbose style. Some evidence also indicates that ethnic minorities and international students whose native language is not English may be at a disadvantage due to linguistic and cultural differences.

Reading different types of texts (academic journals, newspapers, blogs, etc.) will help. And even if you don’t know what a specific word means, you can often infer its meaning by the context.

Cannot Say

The ‘cannot say’ answer often causes confusion.

It’s usually simple to distinguish whether a statement is true or false. However, establishing whether an answer is strictly true – or whether it’s likely to be true, but logically you cannot say for sure – can be tricky.

That’s where your accuracy of reading comes into play, alongside your critical thinking . You need to establish whether the text implies that something is true or false but doesn’t actually state that it is, or whether the text definitely states that something is true or false without any doubt.

The key to tackling this ambiguity is to practice reading accurately as well as quickly. You’ll need an eye for detail combined with logical thinking.

Different Suppliers of Verbal Reasoning Tests

Verbal reasoning tests come in many formats. While they all aim to evaluate the same set of attributes, each test provider uses a different means to do that.

To make your practice even more effective, research which test supplier the company you’re applying for uses. That way, you can seek out more focused practice materials and mock tests.

Always be aware, however, that companies can change their test supplier at any time. What was true for one intake might not be true for the next. Bear in mind also that some companies use different suppliers for different departments and roles.

The main test providers are:

  • SHL – This is the most common. SHL is a good reference point as it is the industry standard for verbal reasoning tests. Its tests tend to be between 17 and 19 minutes long for 20 questions, so speed and accuracy is key.

  • Criterion – Criterion is unique in that it has an environmental focus to its questions. There are 30 questions that you have to answer within 20 minutes, so timing is tight. The tests also get progressively more difficult, so try to be quicker for the first set of questions to give yourself some breathing room later on.

  • Cubiks– Cubiks offers tests similar to CEB SHL, with passages of text that tend to be a bit shorter. You should be working to a minute or less per question so you’ll need to be quick, but other than that there shouldn’t be any particular surprises.

  • Talent QTalent Q uses adaptive tests. This means that each question is generated based on your previous answer. The better you’re doing, the harder the questions. The aim of this is to hone in on your skill level much faster, allowing the tests to be quick. Typically, candidates have around 90 seconds for questions with a new passage of text and 75 seconds for subsequent questions on the same text.

  • cut-e – The tests offered by cut-e employ a different structure. Candidates are given a series of different sets of text simultaneously on various tabs and need to flick back and forth between the texts to piece together the answers.

  • T-Three (formally Mendas)– With 22 questions over 35 minutes, T-Three offers a slightly slower-paced test. Its verbal reasoning test is combined with financial testing, so expect a very different kind of text to the others.

In general, while focused practice is really useful, don’t become too pigeon-holed. The tests are designed to test your skills without needing external knowledge or practice of the format, so if you can’t find out who your test supplier is, just work on the general skills.

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Spelling Questions

This is where you have to identify incorrectly spelt words. Questions like this are common in all levels of verbal ability tests.

The test designer will choose commonly misspelt words that are in regular use. It would be unfair to use obscure words that only a small percentage of candidates could be expected to know.

This means that the test designer has a relatively restricted list of words to choose from. You will find that the same words tend to appear in many different suppliers’ tests.

In most cases, the longer that you have been out of the education system, the more your spelling will have deteriorated. Most people now use spell-checking software and it is very easy to forget how words are spelled when we don’t write them down.

Many people find it quite embarrassing when they realise how much their spelling has deteriorated – this is one area where remedial action is straightforward and is guaranteed to produce positive results.

Spelling Rules

You should make a list of the words that you spell incorrectly and look at each one in turn against the spelling rules listed below. Does the misspelt word contravene one of these rules? If so, then study the rule and try practising it.

For example, if you have misspelt a word by juxtaposing the ‘i’ and ‘e’ then spend ten minutes making a list of words which use this letter combination. Satisfy yourself that the rule works and that you know the exceptions.

If you have misspelt any words which are not covered by the spelling rules then you should learn the spelling with reference to the word rather than a rule. You can do this by thinking up a mnemonic.

The word ‘rhythm’, for example, is spelt out by the mnemonic:

‘Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move’

There is a limit to how many mnemonics it is possible to remember, but you should only have a shortlist of words in common usage that you habitually misspell and which don’t conform to the spelling rules given.

Here are the most important spelling rules that you will need to remember:

You can avoid misspelling words that contain the ‘ie’ or ‘ei’ vowel combination by memorising the following:

  • Write ‘i’ before ‘e’
  • Except after ‘c’
  • Or when it sounds like ‘a’
  • As in neighbour and weigh

Exceptions to this rule include:

caffeine, either, foreign, height, leisure, neither, protein, their and weird

There are also words in which the combination follows the letter ‘c’ and should be spelt ‘ei’ but is actually spelt ‘ie’. In all of these words, the letter ‘c’ is pronounced like ‘sh’.

For example:

ancient, conscience, deficient, efficient, proficient and sufficient

Usually, you will join two words without changing their spellings.

For example:

book + keeper = bookkeeper
room + mate = roommate
fire + arms = firearms

Exceptions to this rule include:

almost, already, although, altogether, always, oneself, pastime and wherever

Join a prefix and a word without changing the spelling of the prefix or the word.

For example:

dis + appear = disappear

mis + spell = misspell
un + necessary = unnecessary

There are no exceptions to the adding prefixes rule.

Join a suffix and a word without changing the spelling of the word or the suffix.

For example:

clean + ness = cleanness
poison + ous = poisonous
usual + ly = usually

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  • It does not apply to words that end in ‘e’ or ‘y’
  • It does not apply to words that end in one consonant preceded by one vowel

The adding suffixes rule is not used when adding suffixes to words that end in ‘e’.

If the suffix begins with a vowel, drop the final ‘e’.

Examples:

amuse + ing = amusing
creative + ity = creativity
love + able = lovable

If the suffix begins with a consonant, keep the final ‘e’.

Examples:

measure + ment = measurement
definite + ly = definitely
love + less = loveless

Exceptions to this rule include words in which the final ‘e’ should be kept but is dropped.

For example:

argument, awful, duly, judgment, ninth, truly, wholly and wisdom

Other exceptions include words ending in ‘ce’ or ‘ge’ in which the final ‘e’ is not dropped when you add ‘able’ or ‘ous’.

For example:

courageous, manageable, noticeable, outrageous, peaceable, serviceable and traceable

The adding suffixes rule is not used when adding suffixes to words that end in ‘y’.

If the word has a consonant before the ‘y’, change the ‘y’ to ‘i’.

For example:

mercy + less = merciless
study + ed = studied

Do not change ‘y’ to ‘i’ when adding the suffix ‘–ing’.

study + ing = studying

If the word has a vowel before the ‘y’, keep the ‘y’.

For example:

employ + ed = employed
destroy + ed = destroyed

Exceptions:

daily, dryly, dryness, shyly, shyness, slyly, slyness, gaiety and gaily

The adding suffixes rule is not used to join suffixes to words that end in one consonant preceded by one vowel.

In the following tables, ‘C’ indicates a consonant and ‘V’ a vowel.

Verbal Reasoning Test
Verbal Reasoning Test

When a one-syllable word ends in the CVC combination, you will usually double the final consonant when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel. Do not double it when adding a suffix that begins with a consonant.

For example:

ship + ing = shipping
ship + ment = shipment

This rule does not apply to words that end in two consonants preceded by one vowel (VCC), for example, ‘harm’, or to words that end in one consonant preceded by two vowels (VVC), for example, ‘heat’.

When a word of more than one syllable ends in the CVC combination and it is accented on the last syllable, you will usually double the final consonant when adding a suffix that begins with a vowel.

Do not double it when adding a suffix that begins with a consonant.

For example:

Verbal Reasoning Test
Verbal Reasoning Test

commit + ing = committing
commit + ment = commitment

This rule does not apply to words that end in two consonants preceded by one vowel (VCC), for example, ‘intend’, or to words that end in one consonant preceded by two vowels (VVC), for example, ‘contain’.

This rule does not apply unless words are accented on the last syllable of the base word after the suffix is added. Even though ‘confer’ and ‘refer’ end in the CVC combination, they are not accented on the last syllable after the suffix ‘–ence’ is added:

Confer + ence = conference
Refer + ence = reference

Exceptions:

cancellation, crystallise, equipped, excellence, excellent, transferable, transference and questionnaire

In British English, many verbs can be spelt with either ‘–ize’ or ‘–ise’.

‘–ize’ is the usual US spelling.

Words which must be spelt with ‘–ize’ include:

capsize and prize

Words which must be spelt with ‘–ise’ include:

advertise, advise, apprise, arise, chastise, circumcise, comprise, compromise, demise, despise, devise, disguise, enfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, improvise, incise, merchandise, premise, prise (open), revise, supervise, surmise, surprise, televise

The set of commonly used words that end ‘–ible’ is fairly small and includes:

accessible, audible, collapsible, combustible, compatible, comprehensible, contemptible, convertible, credible, crucible, defensible, digestible, discernible, edible, eligible, fallible, feasible, flexible, forcible, gullible, horrible, inadmissible, incorrigible, incorruptible, indelible, indestructible, indivisible, inexhaustible, inexpressible, intelligible, invincible, irascible, irrepressible, irresistible, legible, negligible, ostensible, perceptible, permissible, plausible, possible, reducible, reprehensible, responsible, reversible, sensible, susceptible, tangible, terrible, visible

Spelling Practice Test

Credit: Psychometric Success

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Word Meaning Questions

These questions are designed to measure your vocabulary, specifically your understanding of word meanings. These types of question appear in all levels of verbal ability tests.

To achieve this, the questions focus on the relationships between words. The questions are phrased in such a way that you need to know the precise meaning of the words given to select the correct answer.

They often use:

  • Synonyms and antonyms (words that have either the same or opposite meanings)
  • Dictionary definitions
  • Word pairs
  • Homophones

Homophones are words which sound similar but have different meanings. An example would be the words 'allude’ and ‘elude’. ‘Allude’ means ‘referred’ and ‘elude’ means ‘escaped from’.

Once again, the test designer needs to choose common homophones which are in regular use and this leaves a relatively restricted list to choose from.

You will usually be offered a choice of four or five words, any of which could complete the sentence. These questions are relatively straightforward but because more than one of the options will complete the sentence satisfactorily, you must read it carefully and choose the best word.

Commonly Confused Words

The list below gives definitions of the most commonly confused homophones.

Only the definition that often causes confusion is given. For example, the verb ‘to founder’ is often confused with the verb ‘to flounder’. Therefore, these words are shown together with their definitions.

‘Flounder’ is also a noun describing an edible flatfish and ‘founder’ is also a noun describing a person who establishes an institution, business or organisation. However, since these meanings are seldom confused they are not given in the list.

abhorrent – arousing strong feelings of repugnance or disapproval
aberrant – deviating from what is normal or desirable

adjured – to make an earnest appeal
abjure – to give up a previously held belief

advice – somebody’s opinion about what another person should do
advise – to suggest or recommend a course of action to somebody

aide – an assistant to somebody providing a professional service
aid – to provide somebody or something with help

ambivalent – having mixed, uncertain or conflicting feelings about something
ambiguous – having more than one possible meaning or interpretation

amoral – not concerned with or amenable to moral judgments
immoral – contrary to accepted moral principles

appraise – to give an estimate of how much money something is worth
apprise – to inform or give notice to somebody about something

assent – to agree to something or express agreement
ascent – an upward vertical movement

aural – relating to the ear
oral – relating to the mouth

averse – strongly opposed to or disliking something
adverse – acting with or characterised by opposition or antagonism

afflict – to cause severe mental or physical distress to somebody
inflict – to cause damage, harm, or unpleasantness to somebody or something

allude – to refer to indirectly
elude – to escape from or avoid

allusion – an indirect reference
illusion – something that deceives the senses or mind

alternate – to follow an interchanging pattern
alternative – another possibility

alleviate – to make something more bearable or less severe
ameliorate – to improve something or make it better

amiable – friendly and pleasant to be with
amicable – characterised by or done in friendliness

annoy – to irritate
aggravate – to make something worse

eager – enthusiastic and excited about something
anxious – worried or afraid about something that is going to happen

bizarre – amusingly or grotesquely strange or unusual
bazaar – a sale of goods

belie – to give a false impression
betray – to help an enemy

breech – the rear part of the barrel of a gun
breach – to make an opening through something

bridal – associated with brides or weddings
bridle – harness for a horse’s head

canvas – heavy closely woven fabric of cotton
canvass – to visit somebody to solicit something

capitol – building for law-making body
capital – seat of government, centre of activity, cash for investment

censure – to subject somebody or something to severe criticism
censor – somebody or something that exercises suppressive control

certitude – feeling of certainty
certainty – a conclusion or outcome that is beyond doubt

climactic – extremely exciting or decisive
climatic – involving climate

coarse – rough, vulgar or unrefined
course – sequence, period of time, direction, action, program, etc.

compliment – a statement of praise
complement – a completing part

confident – self-assured or convinced
confidant – somebody to whom secrets are told

denote – to mean or refer to
connote – to have an additional or implied meaning

dissent – to disagree with a widely held or majority opinion
decent – conforming to accepted standards of moral behaviour
descent – an act of going from a higher position to a lower position

conscious – awake, aware or conscious and deliberate
conscience – the internal sense of what is right and wrong

contemptuous – a strong dislike or lack of respect
contemptible – deserving to be treated with contempt

Continual – happening again and again, especially regularly
continuous – continuing without changing, stopping or being interrupted

convince – to make somebody sure or certain of something
persuade – to urge somebody to perform a particular action

counsel – somebody whose advice is sought, or who acts as an official adviser
council – an appointed or elected body with a representative function

credible – believable or trustworthy
creditable – praiseworthy

criterion – an accepted standard used in making decisions or judgments
criteria – the plural of criterion

currently – at the present time
presently – not at this exact moment but in a short while

demure – looking or behaving in a modest manner
demur – to show reluctance to do something

devise – to conceive of the idea for something
device – a tool, machine or ploy

dilemma – a situation with unsatisfactory choices
quandary – a state of uncertainty or indecision

discomfit – to make unsettled or confused
discomfort – a state of physical unease

discreet – careful to avoid offence, circumspect, careful, etc.
discrete – completely separate and unconnected

disinterested – impartial and free from bias
uninterested – not interested

disassemble – to take something apart, for example, a piece of machinery
dissemble – to put on a false appearance to conceal facts or intentions

effect – a result or power to influence
affect – to give the appearance or pretence of something

elicit – to provoke a reaction
illicit – illegal or unacceptable

eminent – of high standing
imminent – about to happen

empathy – understanding of another’s feelings
sympathy – capacity to share feelings

enormousness – great size
enormity – extreme wickedness

epigram – witty saying
epigraph – introductory quotation or inscription
epitaph – inscription on a tombstone

ensure – to make something certain
insure – to cover something with insurance

exulted – to be extremely happy or joyful about something
exalted – high in rank, position or esteem

expedient – appropriate, advisable or useful in a situation that requires action
expeditious – speedy or carried out promptly and efficiently

explicit – expressing all details in a clear and obvious way
implicit – not stated, but understood in what is expressed

extent – the area or range covered or affected by something
extant – still in existence

extemporaneous – prepared in advance but delivered without notes
impromptu – not prepared or planned in advance

faze – to disconcert or disturb somebody
phase – a clearly distinguishable period or stage in a process

flagrant – very obvious and contrary to standards of conduct or morality
blatant – so obvious or conspicuous as to be impossible to hide

flout – to show contempt for a law or convention by openly disobeying it
flaunt – to display something ostentatiously

flounder – to act in a way that shows confusion or a lack of purpose
founder – to become filled with water and sink

foreboding – a feeling that something bad is going to happen
forbidding – presenting an appearance that seems hostile or stern

farther – to a greater distance or to a greater extent
further – that is more than or adds to the quantity or extent of something

gibe – a comment that shows derision or contempt
gybe – to change direction

historical – existing, happening or relating to the past
historic – important in or affecting the course of history

illusion – something that deceives the senses or mind
allusion – a reference that is made indirectly

immigrate – to enter a new country for the purpose of settling there
emigrate – to leave a place, especially a native country

imply – to make something understood without expressing it directly
infer – to conclude something on the basis of evidence or reasoning

incidence – the frequency with which something occurs
incidents – the plural of incident, i.e. events

incipient – beginning to appear or develop
insipid – dull because lacking in character and lively qualities

incredulous – unable or unwilling to believe something or completely
incredible – impossible or very difficult to believe

inflict – to impose a burden on another
afflict – to cause severe mental or physical distress to somebody

ingenuous – showing innocence and a lack of worldly experience
ingenious – possessing cleverness and imagination

insidious – slowly and subtly harmful or destructive
invidious – producing resentment by unfairly slighting somebody

intense – great, strong or extreme in a way that can be felt
intensive – involving concentrated effort

intensely – very much
intently – something planned or the purpose that accompanies a plan

laudatory – expressing praise or admiration
laudable – admirable and worthy of praise

loath – unwilling or reluctant to do something
loathe – to dislike somebody or something intensely

luxuriant – with a lot of young rich healthy growth
luxurious – very comfortable, with high-quality expensive fittings or fabrics

moral – relating to issues of right and wrong
morale – the general level of confidence or optimism felt by a person or group

moribund – having lost all sense of purpose or vitality
morbid – showing a strong interest in unpleasant or gloomy subjects

palette – a board or tray on which an artist arranges and mixes paints
palate – a personal sense of taste and flavour
pallet – a standardised platform or open-ended box

peak – the pointed summit of a mountain
peek – to take a quick look at something
pique – a bad mood or feeling of resentment

prosecute – to take legal action against someone
persecute – to make somebody the victim of continual pestering or harassment

personnel – the department of an organisation that deals with employing staff
personal – relating to the parts of somebody’s life that are private

pore – to study something carefully and thoughtfully
pour – to make a substance flow in a stream

practical – concerned with actual facts and experience
practicable – capable of being carried out or put into effect

predominantly – in the greatest number or amount
predominately – to dominate or control somebody or something

principal – first or among the first in importance or rank
principle – an important underlying law or assumption required in a system of thought

precedent – a decision that can be subsequently used as an example
precedence – the right or need to be dealt with before somebody or something else

proceed – to go on to do something
precede – to come, go, be or happen before somebody or something else

racist – based on notions and stereotypes related to race
racial – relating to or characteristic of races

reign – the period of time during which somebody rules a nation
rein – any means of guiding, controlling or restraining somebody or something

respectfully – showing appropriate deference and respect
respectively – matching one list with another in the order given for both

reluctant – feeling no willingness or enthusiasm to do something
reticent – unwilling to communicate very much

salacious – intended to titillate or arouse people sexually
salutary – of value or benefit to somebody or something

simple – easy to do, understand or work out because not complicated
simplistic – tending to oversimplify something

stationery – paper, envelopes, pens, pencils and other things used in writing
stationary – not moving, especially at a standstill after being in motion

torturous – causing great physical or mental anguish
tortuous – with many turns or bends

trooper – a member of a cavalry unit
trouper – a member of a group of travelling entertainers

turgid – pompous, boring and overcomplicated
turbid – confused and muddled

unconscionable – shocking and morally unacceptable
unconscious – not aware of something

unexceptionable – incapable of being criticised
unexceptional – not special or unusual

venal – open to persuasion by corrupt means
venial – easily forgiven or excused

Word Meaning Practice Test

Credit: Psychometric Success

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Word Relationship Questions

These questions assess your ability to identify the relationship between wordsand to then apply this verbal analogy.

To answer these questions, you need to understand the meaning of the words in the question and establish what exactly the relationship is between them. By looking at the answer options, you decide which answer is the most appropriate.

These questions test your reasoning ability as well as your vocabulary. These types of question appear in nearly all levels of verbal ability tests.

Word Relationship Practice Test

Credit: Psychometric Success

Comprehension Questions

These questions consist of a short passage of text and some related questions. They will often be about a topic which is unfamiliar to you and the job.

This is an advantage rather than a disadvantage, because you need to answer the questions based only on the information that you are given – not using any knowledge that you already have.

These types of question appear in all levels of verbal ability tests but might be more detailed and technical in graduate and management-level tests.

Comprehension Practice Test

Credit: Psychometric Success

Critical Reasoning Questions

These questions are designed to test your ability to take a series of facts expressed in words and to understand and manipulate the information to solve a specific problem. They are not so much concerned with measuring your English ability.

These questions are usually restricted to graduate and management-level tests.

Critical Reasoning Practice Test

Credit: Psychometric Success

Verbal Reasoning: Tips and Techniques

When preparing for your test – either in-person at an assessment centre or online – it’s important to plan ahead to make the best use of your time.

The first step is research. Check forums, practice sites, test provider websites and anything else you can find.

When you feel like you’ve got a good idea of what you’re in for, it’s time to practice. We recommend the verbal ability packages from JobTestPrep .

Practice With JobTestPrep

There are plenty of mock tests out there so make full use of them. While you’re practising, do so under real test conditions. It can often feel like a whole different beast when you take the thing for real, so getting used to real test conditions will definitely help.

Set aside the required amount of time for the test. Find a quiet room and ensure you won’t be disturbed. Gather everything you’ll need. Put your phone outside the room and focus on the task at hand.

It can also be very useful to time yourself. Time in verbal reasoning tests is often tight and it’s important to stay on schedule.

Before the test, work out the average amount of time per question you have. Use a stopwatch to make sure you don’t go too far ahead of that time. This is a great way to get used to tackling the questions at the pace needed for the actual test.

In the 24 hours before the test, aim to:

  • Get an early night. Being well-rested can make all the difference when you need a combination of speed and accuracy.

  • Eat a good breakfast. Concentration can dip when you’re hungry. Don’t let a lack of toast ruin your test.

  • Have everything you need ready. No last-minute panicking.

Don’t underestimate the simple things. They can make a huge impact.

Effective Strategies When Taking the Test

With all your research, preparation and practice done, all that is left is to stay calm and approach the test in the same way you have all your practice tests.

Keep these tips in mind throughout:

  • Be aware of the time – The timing usually isn’t generous. You’ll need to stay on a tight schedule to get all the questions done.

  • Read the questions first – That way, you already know what you’re looking for when you read the text and can focus on that. This will allow you to be quicker and more accurate.

  • Don’t use general knowledge – Everything you need to answer the question is in the text and in the text only. Don’t fill in any gaps with outside knowledge.

  • Deal in logical certainties – The ‘cannot say’ answer is there for good reason and has as much chance of being the correct answer as ‘true’ or ‘false’. If the information on the page doesn’t give a conclusive answer, pick ‘cannot say’. Candidates often trip up on answers when they’re pretty sure that it’s one or the other but the text doesn’t say that it is for certain. Be careful to note the difference.

  • If you’re struggling on a question, come back to it later – You can usually go backwards and forwards in the test. Use this to your advantage. If you can’t work a question out, don’t waste time staring at it. Get on with the other questions and come back if you have time.

  • Use the practice questions to your advantage – At the beginning of the test, you’ll often be presented with a few practice questions so you can see what the format is. Just because these don’t count towards your score, doesn’t mean they’re not worth concentrating on. They present the perfect opportunity to gain some vital information. Instead of trying hard to answer the question correctly, take a close look at the format. You might be able to glean information like how long the passages of text tend to be, what kinds of topics they’re on, what the statements are like, etc. Pay attention here because every bit of knowledge can save you time later.

  • Ignore everyone else– Sometimes all the assessment centre candidates will be in the same room taking the test. For some, this can be distracting. Try to ignore everyone else and focus only on your own work. Other people might be shuffling around, sighing with exasperation or chewing gum loudly – it doesn’t matter. You’re there for you and no one else.

Additional Resources

Here are our recommendations for resources to use:

  • Apps – We have our own psychometric tests app that contains eight timed verbal tests that are closely modelled on real tests. For each test, there are full answer explanations to help you see where you went wrong and how you can improve.

  • Online practice tests– As well as the practice tests in this article, JobTestPrep offers numerous verbal practice tests for different test types and providers. These can give you a great feel for how the different tests work. Well worth checking out.

FAQs

What If English Isn’t My Native Language?

The answer to this depends partly on how good your English is. The test will be in English and most likely so will your work environment. If you feel comfortable with the level of English required for the job, there should be no real issues.

So long as you understand the text in front of you, the real work is in the logical reasoning rather than any advanced knowledge of the language or cultural norms. If in doubt, ask the HR team to see if there’s anything they can do or advice they have.

I Have Dyslexia. Will That Be a Problem?

Dyslexia or similar learning difficulties may make the test more difficult. However, to compensate for that, employers almost always make an allowance for it.

Talk to them. Explain the specifics of your condition and ask them what they might be able to do to help put you on a level playing field.

For instance, it might be appropriate to give you extra time or a slightly altered test.

Rest assured that you won’t be the first person with dyslexia or another learning difficulty that the company has come across. They won’t want to reject good candidates simply because the application process doesn’t accommodate them properly.

Is It Better to Make Sure I Finish the Test or Aim for Accuracy?

It’s usually better to aim for accuracy. This is for several reasons:

The most obvious is that in the rare sort of test that has negative marking, incorrect answers will lose you points. But accuracy is also usually tracked regardless and sent to the employer, even if you don’t get to see it. Employers tend to prefer candidates who are a little slower but more accurate, within reason.

When Should I Get Feedback on the Test?

This can vary a lot from provider to provider. In general, expect to receive feedback within one to three weeks. For a few online tests, candidates get their results instantly.

Depending on the provider and the company, you may also get some written feedback to say where you went wrong and how you can improve. This is somewhat rare, but it does happen.
As always, you can ask a contact at the company for more information.

Shouldn’t I Just Get Someone Else to Take the Test for Me?

No. Don’t even think about it.

Employers know cheating happens and have invested a lot into anti-cheating methods.

While most of these are, for obvious reasons, kept largely obscure, they exist. And they’re effective.

Aside from cheat-detecting software, companies will often have you retake the aptitude tests in person at the assessment centre. If your performance there is vastly different (not only in terms of score but also style, approach and so on), then alarm bells will ring.

In short, you are likely to be caught. Your application – or even job offer, if you made it that far – will be rescinded and you may be blacklisted from applying in the future.

Practice is a far better, more effective and more rewarding use of your time than cheating.

Final Thoughts

Verbal skills are vital in any workplace and impact on internal communications, communicating with clients, reading industry reports, reacting to news articles, following written instructions and giving others written instructions. Therefore, these skills are frequently tested during the recruitment process.

Your verbal ability test results are a great indicator to the employer of how good a communicator you are, as well as how good you are at acting on communication. The test also examines logical faculties more generally, by looking at the way you take in information and critically evaluate it.

You will be expected to demonstrate your verbal skills quickly and accurately. You will be under pressure, both from a strict time limit and from the importance of the test. Practise your skills until they are second nature.

Practice Now


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