How to Pass SHL Tests
Updated January 26, 2023
What Are SHL Tests?
SHL tests are the most common brand of ability, behavioural and personality tests.
SHL psychometric tests are available in 30 languages across 150 countries.
Many employers choose to include SHL tests as part of their recruitment process.
SHL tests can be used to highlight candidates with the skills and knowledge needed to progress into leadership roles in the future.
They are suitable for use across all job industries and hierarchy levels, although they are especially popular for graduate recruitment schemes.
Employers can search for the best SHL test types to meet their business needs using the SHL website.
The catalogue can be filtered by categories such as ‘Industry’, ‘Job Level’ and ‘Job Family’.
It is also possible to search for specific keywords to find a suitable test.
Want to take some SHL practice tests?
At the start of the recruitment process, employers identify key competencies that are required to succeed in the advertised job role.
Once these documents have been written, employers select the SHL tests which will help them to assess how well a candidate meets the key competencies required for the job role.
The assessment categories for SHL tests include:
This category of tests is used to assess a candidate’s logic, reasoning and aptitude for processing information.
Test results may also be used to identify a candidate’s potential for future success or promotion.
The assessments that are available include:
Typically, these will include assessments that have been created to evaluate business, IT and software skills.
Employers will choose a specific skills assessment according to the job role they are recruiting for.
For example, when recruiting for a secretarial vacancy, they may ask candidates to complete a spelling and grammar, or letter writing test.
For an IT programming role, they will probably select a test that will assess a candidate’s ability to use a specific programming language.
Verify Numerical Ability Test – This assessment is used to evaluate a candidate’s numerical and statistical abilities. Tasks will include numerical calculations and equations, word-based mathematical problems and the interpretation of data presented in spreadsheets, graphs or charts.
Verify Calculation Test – This test is used to assess a candidate’s basic mathematical abilities including addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. It can also be used to identify a candidate’s data manipulation skills such as checking, auditing and estimating.
Verify Inductive Reasoning Test – This is sometimes called a diagrammatic reasoning or logical reasoning test. It is used to assess problem-solving abilities – often, a sequence of shapes or images will be provided and candidates will be expected to identify the pattern and determine how the sequence continues.
Verify Deductive Reasoning Test – Candidates are required to analyse the information provided to identify strengths and weaknesses of an argument, the information needed to complete the scenario that has been outlined to them or make logical conclusions.
Verify Verbal Ability Test – This assessment is used to find out how well a candidate can understand and analyse written information. Candidates are required to read and interpret a section of text before answering questions to demonstrate their understanding of the written information and how this can be used.
Verify Mechanical Comprehension Test – This test is used to assess a candidate’s basic knowledge and understanding of mechanical systems. Typically, candidates will be expected to apply this knowledge to different devices, including cogs, gears, pulleys and levers.
Verify Checking Test – This test looks at how well a candidate can check and compare information in an administrative setting. Employers will be looking for candidates that can check information with both speed and accuracy.
Verify G+ Test – This generic test looks at overall mental ability (including numeral ability and deductive/inductive reasoning) to measure a candidate’s capabilities for critical reasoning and problem-solving.
SHL can create customisable interactive simulations to put candidates into realistic workplace situations.
Candidate responses during a simulation are then used to gauge their abilities in areas such as accuracy, coaching and customer service.
Situational Judgment – Unlike many of the other tests, there are no right or wrong answers for situational judgment tests. Instead, they are used to find out how a candidate is likely to react and respond to certain situations within the workplace.
Realistic Job and Culture Previews (RJP) – This test can be used to give applicants an insight of working for the recruiting organisation. It is often used at the very start of the application process to help candidates decide whether they wish to continue with their application. In most cases, RJPs are not scored; however, candidates will receive feedback on their response to each scenario.
Universal Competency Framework (UCF) – Linked to behaviours that can be observed, this test offers a framework which can be used to assess performance, potential and behaviour. Candidate responses can be used to help understand behaviours and how these might impact on their suitability for work within particular job roles and work environments. Test results can help to identify whether the candidate works best on their own or within a team, whether they prefer to work within small or large teams, and whether they tend to focus more on detail than the overall picture.
These assessments can be used throughout the entire employee life cycle, from the initial recruitment stages through to employee development and succession planning:
Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) – SHL describes this test as: “The world’s leading personality assessment for predicting performance, potential and fit.” It can be used to analyse more than 30 precise personality traits that might be required for a particular job role. The results can be used to make a judgment on whether or not a candidate would be a good fit for the existing team.
Motivation Questionnaire (MQ) – This test is designed to measure 18 different motivational factors. Candidates are expected to read information relating to a workplace situation and then rate each one in terms of how this might affect their motivation levels. The results of the test will be used to form an MQ Report Pack which will include a Profile Chart, Candidate Motivation Report and Employee Motivation Report. This pack can then be used by recruiters to help inform their recruitment decision.
Many employers require prospective employees to complete one or more SHL tests during the early part of the recruitment process.
Typically, candidates will be notified of this via an email, which will include a link to the online tests.
A deadline for the completion of the tests will be provided; this is likely to be anything from a few days to several weeks.
Results from the initial tests will be used to help decide whether or not to invite a candidate to interview.
Applicants who are moved forward to the next stage of the selection process will probably be asked to complete further SHL test(s) as part of the interview or assessment centre.
It is important to bear in mind that the results from both sets of tests will be compared.
If they appear to be very different, employers may be alerted to potential cheating.
How Are SHL Tests Scored?
Each candidate’s results will be compared to a ‘norm’ or reference group which is made up of people with similar characteristics (nationality, age, education, etc.)
To progress to the next stage, candidates will need to achieve a score that is relevant to the reference group, for example, 40% higher than the average score by individuals within that group.
To stand the best chance of progressing to the next stage of the selection process, candidates should aim to achieve a score in the top 20%.
How to Pass SHL Tests
There are plenty of online resources which enable you to practise SHL tests.
Your best first option is to visit the official SHL Direct website. You can take practice tests here, although not that many are available.
To take lots of tests, visit TestHQ.com, where you can take SHL simulator tests.
If you are the type of person who works best first thing in the morning, plan to complete the tests as early in the day as possible.
Similarly, if you’re more productive during the evening hours, complete the tests then.
If there are other people in the house at the time you are planning to do the tests, let them know to ensure that they do not disturb you.
Before you get started, have something to eat, make yourself a drink and grab any materials you might need, such as a pen, paper and calculator.
As mentioned, each SHL test will have a timeframe during which candidates must complete it.
One reason for this is to put candidates under pressure, to see how they perform and understand their potential.
When starting a test, allow yourself time to carefully read the full instructions, including how much time you have to complete it.
If you find yourself stuck on one particular question, try not to spend too much time trying to work it out. Unless it is a test that times out if you skip a question or give an incorrect answer (this information will be given within the test instructions), then it is best to move onto the next question.
You will usually be able to move back and forth through the questions, but if not, then just make a note of any questions you haven’t been able to answer and go back to them later.
Many employers incorporate SHL tests (or other cognitive ability or aptitude assessments) into their recruitment processes.
You are especially likely to be asked to complete SHL tests if you are applying for graduate roles.
SHL tests can be a challenge – the best way to prepare is practice, as this will help you to become familiar with the format of the test and the type of questions you will be asked to answer.
Reviewing your results after each practice test will enable you to identify the areas that you need to focus on improving.
Remember, the more practice you do, the quicker you will be able to complete questions – and, hopefully, this will lead to a higher score when it comes to a live test situation.
Want to Try Some Practice SHL Tests?
The SHL test is a psychometric examination that is used in employment practices and team-building exercises. The SHL test consists of both aptitude and personality exams.
It is available across 150 countries in 30 languages, making it one of the most accessible psychometric tests corporate companies use for finding the right people. They are great for measuring if a candidate fits in with a company ethos.
To practice SHL test skills, it is important that you practice answering a range of different SHL-style test questions.
You should focus on tasks that will help you improve your diagrammatic reasoning, numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning skills.
The SHL test is a timed test so it is important to practice answering questions against the clock – this will help to improve your time management skills.
Upon receiving your practice SHL test results, identify any questions that you answered incorrectly and dedicate more time to answering similar practice questions.
You can cheat on an SHL test, but if an employer thinks that you have cheated, it may decide to reject your application or prevent you from applying to join the organization in the future.
Cheating on an SHL test includes asking someone to answer the questions on your behalf, taking the test with assistance from others or attempting to access the SHL question bank so that you can prepare your answers in advance.
Online proctoring is used for some SHL tests; this helps to identify cheating in online tests. Remember, if you cheat and an employer decides to hire you, it may choose to revoke the offer if your performance does not match up to your SHL test results.
Cheating on the SHL test is not recommended. To maximize your chances of test success, spend plenty of time practicing and preparing for the test.
Most candidates find the SHL test difficult. SHL practice tests are designed to help prepare you for the SHL test, so most people find the questions challenging.
The practice tests are not necessarily harder, although this is down to individual interpretation. Becoming familiar with the format of the SHL tests is one of the best ways to prepare.
By taking plenty of practice tests, you will learn how to work through the questions quickly and accurately. Analyzing your results from the practice tests will allow you to highlight the areas you find most difficult and spend more time preparing for those elements of the SHL test.
Results from an SHL test are given as a percentile score. An average score is between 40 and 50. Although this is considered a pass, it might not be high enough for the employer that you are applying to.
A result between 73 and 90 is generally considered to be a good score. If you achieve an SHL test score of 90 or higher, you will fall into the top 10% of candidates, which means you are more likely to be successful in your job application.
Some employers choose to use remote proctoring for SHL tests. This system helps to detect cheating.
While SHL does not record a candidate’s screen, remote proctoring offers several different security features, including recording the number of times a candidate tries to move away from the test screen, counting the number of times a candidate tries to take a screenshot and taking a snapshot if more than one person’s face is detected in the test frame.
To pass the SHL test, you will need to dedicate plenty of time to practice and preparation.
TestHQ.com offers a range of useful resources and online practice tests to help improve your chances of achieving the best possible results in the SHL test.
Your accuracy, speed and overall test results will be used to compare your performance with other people within a norm group, so it is important to work on your time management skills as part of your preparation.
You may need to ask for your SHL test to be reset if you experienced technical problems while you were completing it. If this applies, you must seek permission from the organization that has asked you to take the test. The SHL support team is unable to reset completed tests without receiving this authorization.
The SHL tests can be difficult if a candidate is unprepared. Aptitude tests measure a candidate’s numeral reasoning abilities and logistical skills. If a candidate is not used to answering these types of questions, they may struggle with this part of the SHL test.
Although the personality examinations of the SHL tests are objectively right or wrong, they can still be difficult if a candidate is unfamiliar with the question structure.
For instance, if a candidate is asked a question about how they respond to an urgent matter in the workplace, without the right preparation they may not be confident enough to choose the answer that best reflects their personality.
This will impact the candidate as it may lead to a poor reflection of who they are to the company administering the test.
Whether you pass or fail the SHL test is dependent on what percentile your score falls into. This means that your score is compared with the scores of other candidates, and from these results, the most suitable candidates for a job position are identified.
If you fall within the 40th to 50th percentile, you may have technically passed the SHL test, but you still might fail to be chosen for a position.
The pass rate also differs depending on the type of SHL test you take. For instance, the passing score of the McKinsey SHL test is around 85%, meaning that only the top 15% of candidates hit the pass rate.
In comparison to other SHL tests, the passing score is usually around the 70% mark, meaning the top 30% of candidates hit the passing rate.
There are many different types of SHL tests, but they can be more or less separated into two categories.
The SHL aptitude tests will assess a candidate's verbal reasoning skills, logical abilities and skills at interpreting different forms of data.
The SHL personality tests will assess a candidate’s natural responses to relations in the workplace, challenging scenarios and their feelings towards their prospects.
What you do after you fail the SHL test will depend upon who has administered the tests and the reasons why you are taking the tests.
If you are taking the SHL test for a job application, you may be able to resit the examination when you reapply. This varies from company to company, so check the employment procedures to find out if you can reapply.
If you are taking the SHL test as part of a team-building exercise, your results may not impact your position, and you will likely be invited to take the test again.
Remember that failure depends on the type of SHL test you are taking. For instance, if you are sitting an SHL personality test, then you cannot technically pass or fail. Do not be too disheartened if you do not get the results you desire.
This depends on the company that is administering the SHL test. If it is part of a job application, you will have to check if you are permitted to retake the exam when you reapply.
Some companies bank results of certain sections of the SHL test, meaning that you will not have to retake these parts of an SHL test. The aptitude test results are usually saved, whilst the personality SHL exams will be administered again and are used more in team-building exercises.
SHL direct offers accurate and comprehensive information on the different types of SHL tests and what is expected of you when you take these tests.
You can also use YouTube tutorials to help you study for the SHL tests. In addition, it is always good to read through job application packages carefully.
You will likely receive information on the types of tests you will sit as part of the application. Obtaining this information will help you locate the right study guides.