SHL Assessment Tests: Practice Tests, Q&A with Explanations (2021)

Last updated 06/2021

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What is the SHL Test?

SHL Talent Measurement Solutions are a part of Gartner’s (formerly CEB) talent management services. Their psychometric tests are used around the world, and in the UK, by employers to evaluate and compare specific abilities in job candidates. SHL solutions cover numerical, verbal and diagrammatic reasoning tests, inductive reasoning tests, personality questionnaires, and motivation questionnaires.

Aptitude tests deployed by SHL are intended to assess an individual’s maximum ability and identify competencies that are important for success in a given role. In many cases, a firm will make use of multiple SHL tests.

How do SHL Tests Work?

SHL tests are widely used by companies around the globe, and specifically within the UK, from a range of industries to identify the optimal ability level of any given applicant. They achieve this by placing the applicant in a high-pressure environment, with many questions to answer and limited time in which to answer them. Employers are then able to see if a candidate is a good fit for the demands of a given job position.

What are the different types of SHL tests?

There are a variety of SHL tests available for employers to administer. Broadly speaking, assessments can be split into two main categories:

Behavioral/Personality: This type of SHL assessment focuses on the individual strengths & weaknesses of a candidate in order to establish how well the candidate fits a given job role as well as their ability to function in given workplace scenarios.

Cognitive/Ability: SHL Cognitive/ability assessment serves as more of an objective measurement of a candidate’s ability. Questions in these SHL assessments provide a quantitative view of the ability level of candidates and compare this ability level to the industry ‘norm’.

Let’s take a look at the different types of SHL test to get a better understanding of what to expect:

SHL Spatial Awareness Practice Test

The SHL Spatial Awareness Test focuses on a candidate’s spatial reasoning ability. The candidate is presented with questions that point to the differences or similarities between question items. The questions in the SHL test come in two main forms:

Conforming Figure: In this question type, the candidate is required to identify which of the four given answer figures DOES share a common feature with the two given question figures.

Outlying Figure: In this question type, the candidate is required to identify which of the four given answer figures DOES NOT share a common feature with the two given question figures.

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SHL Inductive Reasoning Practice Test

The SHL Inductive Reasoning Test focuses on a candidate’s ability to interpret figures. A candidate needs to work out which item comes next in a series of items. These questions generally take one of the following 5 formats:

Inversion Sequences: In this question type, figures in the sequence are being procedurally inverted, this requiring the examinee to identify elements that are being ‘flipped’ throughout the sequence.

Rotation Sequences: In this question type, figures in the sequence are being rotated in some manner, with a couple of secondary changes occurring throughout the items of the sequence.

Positioning Sequences: In this question type, elements of each item shift around, but the overall bearing of the item does not change significantly. Here, it is important to look for individual elements that shift around.

Counting Sequences: In this question type, a given element of the item will either increase or decrease, and there may also be secondary changes made to the image. It’s important to quickly identify the changing count of a certain element, and isolate the change to find the solution.

Size Sequences: As suggested by the name, size sequences involve the changing of the size of the item by some measure, whether it is increasing or decreasing in volume. The trick here is to identify the increment of change and to use this knowledge when approaching the next step.

These types of questions can be a handful to identify and solve within the harsh time limit. Luckily, Prepterminal’s Inductive Reasoning guide offers a methodological approach to identifying and solving such questions in optimal time.

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SHL Situational Judgement Practice Test

The SHL Situational Judgement Test is designed to take a close look at a candidate’s personal qualities in a work environment. This SHL test is different from the other types of tests as it is based on personality rather than cognitive ability. Questions in this category deal with how you would react to certain workplace situations. The aim of the test is to find out whether you are a good fit for the company’s culture and ethos.

While this SHL question type is much more of a grey area than the cognitive tests, there is a route to identifying the ‘right’ answers and putting your best foot forward so that the hiring will recognize your personal qualities and select you over other candidates. We cover these techniques and principles in our comprehensive SHL SJT guide.

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SHL Mechanical Comprehension Practice Test

The SHL Mechanical Comprehension Test deals with the candidate’s mechanical knowledge and intuition. This SHL exam assesses a candidate’s ability to solve applied problems in four key areas:

Gears: These questions require a candidate to identify the correct direction of rotation of gears which, when adjacent, have opposite tendencies of rotation. The challenge in these questions comes in the requirement to work out the speed of rotation of given gears based on the number of teeth or the radii of the gears in question.

Wheels & Belts: This question type requires a candidate to properly identify the rotation of a given number of wheels that are connected by a belt in different configurations. This can involve belts that are cross-connective and belts that are not.

Pressure: This question type assesses a candidate’s understanding of the mechanical concept of pressure, whether it is solid, liquid, or gas pressure. This question type often requires candidates to identify the correct position of an object required in order to exert the minimum/maximum pressure on the ground, or the pressure exerted by a fluid when an object is immersed in it.

Magnetism: This question type requires candidates to understand the key features of magnetic materials, and how to distinguish between magnetic and non-magnetic material. They must also understand the concept of magnetic poles, as well as electrical fields, and how they are represented using field lines.

The SHL Mechanical Comprehension Test is rather challenging for the unprepared. It is vital that you practice and study for this test to secure success. Prepterminal’s fully-expanded study guides and practice tests are the perfect resources for comprehensive test preparation.

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SHL Verbal Reasoning Practice Test

The SHL Verbal Reasoning Test deals with a candidate’s ability to read and understand a passage of text and answer a number of questions based on the test. A candidate must also draw inferences and conclusions solely based on the text. As such, this question type does not necessarily require any pre-existing topical knowledge, but it is highly important to prepare and understand the principles governing these questions.

This question type is usually administered in a TRUE – FALSE – CANNOT SAY format. Where the truth of the statements is based upon the content of the passage of text.

This question type is often considered to be highly difficult as test-takers often struggle to find the subtle inferences included in the text. Prepterminal’s SHL Verbal Reasoning Guide provides comprehensive preparation for this challenging question format.

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SHL Numerical Reasoning Practice Test

The SHL Numerical Reasoning Test is a highly challenging mathematical assessment, delivered at different levels depending on the job role being applied for. Questions of this type cover the following topics:

1/2/3/4 Operations: This question type covers a candidate’s ability to deal with equations covering multiple operation types. The most complex variants of this question type involve all four operations, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, in a single equation.

Rates & Proportion: This question type deals with a candidate’s ability to deal with problems concerning particular relationships between two variables or values. This type of question will often involve calculation involving values increasing or decreasing by a multiplier that is present in another value, requiring the candidates to extrapolate the multiplier from an existing value and apply it to another value.

Ratio: Ratio questions involve comparing amounts of a given item, usually written using a colon notation. In this question type, it can be a challenge to quickly find the answer, so it is important to prepare and learn how to efficiently identify ratios without the need to manually count every single item in question.

Tables: Questions on tables require candidates to calculate certain values using the data presented in table format. This question type will almost always draw on concepts covered in other parts of the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test, such as 1/2/3/4 operations or ratios. In this sense, tables might be considered as an alternative format for the other question types.

Currency Exchange: Currency exchange questions are not dissimilar to ratio questions. This question type requires candidates to identify the value of an amount of money when converted to another currency, based on the exchange rate given in the question. While these questions can be solved through easy methods, these methods are unacceptably slow, so it is vital that you learn the proper methodology and a quick solution.

Percentages: Percentage questions assess a candidate’s ability to deal with calculation in a percentage format. These questions can be seen as a kind of division, based on the notion that a percentage is a portion of 100. For these questions, it is important to understand the concepts at play on a deep level so that you can effectively answer questions within the restrictive time limit.

It has been observed that numerical reasoning is often found to be the most intimidating of the SHL test types, as it is not uncommon for most people to feel overwhelmed by mathematical questions.

Prepterminal’s SHL Numerical Reasoning Test prep course will help you dispel the mystery surrounding these challenging mathematical processes and help you overcome this challenging hurdle.

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How Does Your SHL Score Influence Your Career?

The purpose of an SHL test is to put candidates under pressure so that an employer can identify a candidate’s maximum level of performance. They then compare this level of performance to an identified norm group for the candidate’s given industry and job level. A cut-off point is used relative to this norm group.

This means that the candidate can only proceed to the next stage of screening if they have achieved a certain score. These parameters are easily interpreted as they are delivered in the form of percentile rankings, which are then categorized into grades from A-E:

Grade Meaning Percentile
A Well Above Average 99-92
B Above Average 90-73
C Average 69-31
D Below Average 27-10
E Well Below Average 8-1

Candidates seeking to continue to the next stage of screening should aim for a grade B or above in their SHL practice tests, and SHL assessments. Below that grade, an individual falls into the realm of mediocrity or worse.

Why Prepare for Your SHL Test?

SHL practice tests and SHL assessments are designed to challenge the test-taker. They are designed to trip-up examinees at any opportunity. This is achieved through a number of means, such as presenting behavioral questions to which the ideal response is highly unclear or subjective. Or, by placing a number of confusing elements in cognitive questions to slow down the test-taker.

Candidates frequently report that the topics covered in their SHL assessment often catch them unprepared due to lack of practice. They also relay that they were ‘rusty’ when it came to certain areas of knowledge. It isn’t enough to vaguely remember a concept and improvise when under such strict time restrictions.

Improve your SHL Score with our Intelligent Learning System

The SHL is a challenging test, and it’s natural to feel a degree of anxiety when facing it. Not only do you need to pass – but you also need to achieve a score that will set you apart from your peers and put you above your profession’s norm group.

In order to provide candidates with the very best SHL preparation material, we have worked in collaboration with industry experts and former examiners to build a course with one key goal in mind: to improve your SHL score.

Our course condenses years of testing expertise into an easy-to-digest course that will teach you the quickest solutions to the challenging questions found on the SHL test, and the intuition you need to think on your feet and adapt to a wide variety of question types. The curriculum of this course features written guides, video guides, module quizzes, and full practice tests with elaborated explanations, to help you fully understand the content of the real thing and approach exam day with confidence.

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SHL Assessment Tests: Practice Tests, Q&A with Explanations (2021)

Last updated 06/2021