Verbal ability tests are very widely used because most jobs require you to understand and make decisions based on verbal or written information. However, there is another less obvious reason that these tests appeal to employers. Verbal tests give employers the best indication of how you will be perceived by other people, particularly customers and co-workers.
This is because most of us make judgements about others based
on the accuracy and clarity of the language they use to
communicate. To put it bluntly, we assume that people who can
communicate clearly and accurately are ‘better’ than those who
can’t. Whether you are communicating with customers, suppliers or
co-workers, your ability to use words correctly is obvious and
will say something positive or negative about you and the
organization that employs you.
Verbal tests evaluate your ability to spell words correctly, use correct grammar, understand analogies and analyze detailed written information. Because they depend on understanding the precise meaning of words, idioms and the structure of the language they discriminate very strongly towards native speakers of the language in which the test has been developed. If you speak English as a second language, even if this is at a high standard, you will be significantly disadvantaged in these tests.
There are two distinct types of verbal ability questions, those dealing with spelling, grammar and word meanings, and those that try to measure your comprehension and reasoning abilities. Questions about spelling, grammar and word meanings are speed tests in that they don’t require very much reasoning ability. You either know the answer or you don’t.
Comprehension, reasoning and class membership questions on the other hand, are designed to measure your problem solving abilities. These questions take the form of passages of text which you need to read before answering a series of questions or of groups of words which share relationships. These questions measure your ability to understand concepts and ideas expressed verbally. While these questions are designed to measure reasoning ability rather than educational achievement, it is generally recognized that verbal reasoning test scores are influenced by educational and cultural background.
Verbal Ability - Spelling Questions
Questions where you have to identify incorrectly spelt words are common in all levels of verbal ability tests. The test designer needs to choose commonly misspelled words which are in regular use, as it would be unfair to use obscure words which 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 and you will find that the same words tend to appear in many different suppliers tests.
Verbal Ability - Word Meaning Questions
These questions are designed to measure your vocabulary, specifically your understanding of word meanings. To achieve this, the questions focus on the relationships between words and the questions are phrased such that you need to know the precise meaning of the words given in order to select the correct answer. These questions often use synonyms and antonyms (words which have either the same or opposite meanings), dictionary definitions and word pairs.
Verbal Ability - Word Relationship Questions
These questions assess your ability to identify the relationship between words and 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. You should then look at the answer options and 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.
Verbal Ability - 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, but 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 may be more detailed and technical in graduate and management level tests.
Verbal Ability - Critical Reasoning Questions
These questions are not so much concerned with measuring your facility with English. They 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. These questions are usually restricted to graduate and management level tests.
If English is Your Second Language
Most of our visitors are USA and UK based and speak English as a native language. They are also predominantly graduates or managerial level people. These verbal ability practice questions are aimed at this group. If you speak English as a second language then you will find these questions very difficult indeed. By all means try them, but don’t panic if you have problems. The verbal ability questions you are set may be easier than these ones and the employer or test administrator will almost certainly make allowances for you as a non-native English speaker.
Learn how to prepare properly for verbal reasoning tests.
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