Verbal reasoning tests

Assessing your ability to comprehend, interpret and use words, verbal reasoning tests are important recruitment assessment tool used by employers, due to the essential nature of these skills in the vast majority of jobs.

Preparing for the tests

  • Complete practice tests – see resources for online practice or visit the resource centre for our book collection
  • Read newspapers, books, manuals and magazines and question the facts, consider what the purpose of the piece is, and decide if there are any hidden agendas
  • Use a dictionary to look up words you come by every day that you don’t know or understand the meaning of
  • Keep up to date with news in your sector to become familiar with the terminology and language (you will not be tested on this but comprehension passages may include the language used on the job which may have inferences or meanings outside of the common use of the word)

Advice for during the test

  • Read the questions and possible answers carefully; some questions may have answers that are similar or designed to trick you
  • Do not make assumptions or use your own subject knowledge to answer the questions, use only the information and detail available to you in the test
  • If you are unsure of the correct answer come back to the question (if possible)
  • Keep an eye on the time limit

Types of questions

Verbal reasoning tests assess a wide range of your verbal comprehension, including some of the following areas:


Within a sentence you may have to identify the word that is spelt incorrectly or select it from a given list.

For example:

The formation of stars as a design or image is known as a _______________.

a)  constallation b) constellation c) constillation d) consolation

Answer: b


You may need to identify the sentence that contains a grammatical error or you could be asked to correct a sentence to make it grammatically correct.

For example:

Which of the following sentences, if any, contain a grammatical error?

  1. Its unusual for it to be so quiet.
  2. He went to got milk from the shop.
  3. I write to apply for the position of customer service assistant.
  4. She travelled to Spain with her parents and brother.


  1. A contraction of 'it is' should be spelt it’s
  2. 'got' should be replaced by 'get'
  3. 'I write to apply' should be written 'I am writing to apply'

Sentence completion

You may be asked to choose which word from a list of possibilities is the most appropriate to correctly complete the sentence.

For example:

The doctor ___________ paracetamol, rest and a week off work.

a) proscribed b) proposed c) implied d) prescribed

Answer: d


Presented with two words that share a relationship you are asked to identify the word which shares a similar relationship to another given word. You may or may not be given options to choose from.

For example:

Metres are to centimetres as feet are to _________.

Answer: inches

Critical reasoning

Given a paragraph or passage to read you must then answer questions which will assess your ability to understand, interpret and critically evaluate the text.

Critical reasoning is particularly common in graduate level verbal reasoning tests and will challenge your critical evaluation skills at a much higher level to comprehension exercises you may remember doing at school.

The questions may ask you to select the answer you think is most appropriate or may expect you to select ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘cannot say’ to various statements.

For examples and practice please see Cubiks|.

Following instructions

One of the more hidden aspects of verbal reasoning tests is your ability to follow instructions. As mentioned in the advice above, take time to carefully read the passage or the question and do not make assumptions about what you are being asked to do.