Verbal Reasoning Tests - Guide & Tips |

Verbal reasoning tests are designed to assess your ability to make deductions from passages of texts. They help you to evaluate and understand the level of your language and verbal comprehension, logic and dexterity when it comes to filtering key information from a bulk of text.

From basic comprehension to more advanced reasoning, there are a number of ways to test verbal reasoning for any candidate.

In this guide we will look at what a verbal reasoning test looks like, why they are used by employers, how you can prepare for one and some practice questions of a verbal reasoning test. 

What is a verbal reasoning test?

A typical verbal reasoning test follows a standard format. A passage of text and then a series of questions which ask you to assess the passage, based on statements. The answers of which will either be, true, false or cannot say. 

It's important to have an understanding and appreciate the meaning of each response if you are to score highly.

If you were to choose, True, you're saying that “the statement follows logically given the information contained within the passage.”

If you were to choose, False, you're saying that “the statement cannot logically follow given the information contained within the passage.”

If you were to choose, Cannot Say, you're saying that, “it is not possible to determine given the information contained within the passage alone; i.e. more information would be required to say for certain.”

An example would be; 

Passage: “There are 9 planets in our Solar System, of various sizes, temperatures and colours. Scientists from NASA are studying them to see if their compositions, weight and density can give us any indication of life existing on these planets.” 

Question: “There are several gaseous planets in our Solar System” 

Answer: Cannot Say - you would need more information to say for certain. It is not false because the passage indicates our solar system. It is neither true because there is no certainty that the passage is saying there is. 

Why are verbal reasoning tests used by employers? 

Employers like to use verbal reasoning tests to reveal a candidate’s language and comprehension skills and their ability to apply reasoning and logic.  

There are certain roles where employers will use verbal reasoning tests in order to gauge a candidate’s skill level when dealing with language. In any working environment where verbal reasoning is required, this kind of test is essential - even for those roles which are not immediately thought of as requiring strong verbal skills.

Roles in teaching, law, consultancy and public sector require good verbal reasoning and over 90% of roles in some of these areas are tested for this skill. 

Many employers like to use this test as it is widely considered a fairer type of assessment than an unstructured interview. Candidates face questions of a similar level of difficulty and their tests are scored objectively.

This way of examining a candidate also removes cognitive biases which can occur during an interview stage - however, a verbal reasoning test will form part of the assessment and not be the total assessment.

Tips for preparing for verbal reasoning tests 

The best way to practice for any test is to do lots of practice. That’s especially true with verbal reasoning tests as the question format needs to be understood before ever undertaking this kind of test. 

There are lots of online practice tools where you can begin. A google search for “verbal reasoning practice tests” will pull up a lot of different online resources that you can access for free. 

When you do practice, be sure to make notes. Because it is a practice you should be looking to understand how these tests work, where you are making the same mistakes or the aspects you are struggling with the most. 

You should also do the tests under timed conditions, as per how the real tests are taken. They are usually 15 to 20 minutes long. By doing tests in these real case scenarios, you're priming your mind to respond to things which it will become second nature. 

Finally, verbal reasoning tests are designed to measure your language and comprehension skills. Beefing up on your English language skills as a whole is an effective use of your time. Reading daily for 20 minutes, going through business passages to get used to vocabulary and “business speak” will give you insight into the language being used for these tests.   

Assess aptitude with Thomas

Understanding how quickly someone learns new information can inform your recruitment decisions and help build personal development programmes.

The Thomas Aptitude assessment (GIA) consists of 5 online tests, including reasoning, perceptual speed, number speed and accuracy, word meaning and spatial visualisation.

Speak to one of our team to learn how the Thomas Aptitude assessment can help you better understand the learning speed and trainability of your people.