SHL is one of the most common psychometric tests available on the market today operating in over 30 languages in over 150 countries for companies of all sizes including Fortune 500 companies. Recently acquired by Gartner, the company is sometimes referred to as CEB.

Most job-seekers encounter SHL tests when applying for new positions. SHL releases tests for applicants of all skill levels from entry-level all the way to senior management level. If you’ve received an invitation to take one of these examinations, then do proceed. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about preparing for and taking these tests.

What Are SHL Tests?

SHL-style tests are usually timed multiple-choice tests focused on a particular set of skills, such as verbal reasoning, logical analysis, numerical computation, or situational judgement. These questions are designed to evaluate both your learned skills and your raw intelligence. The better your score is, the more likely you are to succeed in the role compared to your competition.

These assessments are administered online and accessible from any location and at any time. You’ll receive a link to take the test in your email upon submitting an application. If you pass the at-home version, you’ll be asked to come into an assessment centre to take a second test used to verify the results of the first.

The first round of SHL assessments is scored electronically and automatically. The hiring manager will contact you if you pass the first couple of assessment rounds, at which point you’ll probably be asked to come in for an in-person interview. Your interviewer will see your profile, but your actual scores probably won’t play an enormous role in the final hiring decision unless you attained extraordinary results.

Why Do I Need to Take an SHL Assessment?

A bad hire could cost a company thousands upon thousands of dollars not only in recruitment and training costs, but in productivity losses as well. That number more than triples for senior management positions. The actual figures are hard to calculate because many of these losses are not quantifiable. That being said, Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, estimated that bad hires costed his business well over $100,000.

It’s far more efficient for a company to invest in their HR departments than to pay for bad decisions later. That’s why more and more large companies are turning to psychometric tests. Psychometric tests are essentially IQ tests adapted for employers. They are designed to test both your crystallized intelligence and your fluid intelligence—your acquired knowledge and basic aptitude for learning new information.

These tests are, admittedly, far from perfect; however, they are very accurate. On the whole, psychometric tests like the SHL ultimately do give businesses a general idea of how well applicants will perform. Modern psychology teaches us that the more intelligent someone is, the more quickly he’ll learn and master new skills, and the more quickly he’ll advance through the company. While personality, work ethic, and dedication are just as important, they cannot override or negate the role intellect and good judgement play in success.

How to Prepare for SHL Tests?

These assessments are similar in structure to the SAT and ACT, and you should prepare as such. There is a defined set of subjects on which the company can test you, but you’ll be better off preparing with SHL practice tests than with a subject review. That is to say that you shouldn’t have to learn any new material when preparing for these tests. However, you will need to familiarize yourself with the wording of the questions and the structure of the test.

It is of utmost importance that you learn to quickly read the questions on the test and identify the most relevant pieces of information. Time will be your biggest obstacle regardless of which assessment you’re taking. So, while preparing, you’ll want to make sure that you’re working as efficiently as you possibly can. That means that you know all of the shortcuts and tricks you need to find the answer in as little time as possible. Repetition, of course, is key to improving your scores, but you shouldn’t rely on repetition alone. Review every question that you answer to see whether you could have answered it with less effort.

SHL Psychometric Tests

->Numerical Reasoning Test – Numerical reasoning tests evaluate your ability to manipulate numbers and figures. Typically, these exams will cover basic high school math topics, including fractions, percentages, probability, geometry, and algebra. Consulting and analyst positions may require more advanced math, but these exams are the minority. Most of the time, you’ll be asked to apply your knowledge to the professional world, solving word problems in an industry-specific context.

->Verbal Reasoning Test –Regardless of your chosen field, you’re going to need to communicate effectively. Whether you’re writing reports, giving presentations, or conducting research, you’ll need to know how to identify important topics, condense and summarize large amounts of text, and convey ideas clearly. Verbal reasoning tests on the SHL usually contain a series of true/false questions. These questions will provide you with two premises followed by a conclusion, and you’ll have to determine the truth value of the argument based on the evidence.

->Inductive Reasoning Test – In philosophy, arguments are usually either inductive or deductive. Inductive logic states that the conclusion can be drawn from the given statements, but is not certain. These questions ask you to recognize patterns and extrapolate to predict future items in the series or matrix. On SHL tests, you’ll usually be shown patterns with abstract shapes and figures. You’ll have to identify the rules governing the pattern and figure out which figure completes it.

->Deductive Reasoning Test – Deductive reasoning is based on certainty. The conclusion in a deductive argument can be proven absolutely using the given evidence. On the previsor test, you’ll be shown a series of statements and asked which of the answers can be proven without a doubt.

->Personality Test (SHL OPQ32) – After intelligence, personality is the most important factor in determining professional success. That’s why many companies choose to administer personality assessments to interested applicants alongside their standard array of pre-employment psychometric tests. SHL has two personality tests. One measures motivation, and the other evaluates 32 different personality traits associated with sociability, influence, empathy, and thinking style. These tests are composed of a series of statements, and you’ll have to decide whether you agree and to what degree.

->Situational Judgement Test (SJT) – Situational judgement tests are designed to analyze your decision-making ability. These questions will describe a situation that you might encounter while working at the company and ask you to choose your response.

->Senior Management Aptitude Test – Candidates applying for senior management level positions will need to prove their abilities in multiple areas, including verbal, numerical, and logical reasoning. This SHL assessment will draw questions from several of the tests listed above.

Graduate Aptitude Tests

Calculation Test

Scoring for SHL Assessments:

As opposed to tests like the Wonderlic, for example, SHL-style tests are graded on the curve. That is to say that you’ll be judged based on your score as it compares to other candidates and not based on a pre-determined standard. So, if the questions happen to be particularly difficult, you can rest assured that because they’ll be difficult for everyone, you won’t be at a disadvantage.

The curve is established using the results of what SHL calls a norm group. This norm group, otherwise known as a control group, accounts for differences in education, race, gender, and social class, so you know the results are fair. Though there’s no way to know what the cut-off is for certain, you can safely assume that anyone who scores above the 80th percentile can expect to move on to the next step in the hiring process.

After you’ve passed the initial online SHL exam, you’ll be asked to complete a second psychometric test in person. The company will compare the results of your first and second exam to make sure that you didn’t cheat. If your scores are very different, they’ll throw away your application. So, make sure that you don’t use any study aids while taking the test at home.

SHL Test Tips

Worried about your upcoming SHL assessment? Read over these tips before heading out to the assessment centre!

1. Don’t Watch the Clock: Yes, you should always watch the time, but you’ll waste time if you’re always looking up to check the clock. Check the time occasionally, but make sure to stay focused on your work.

2. Read Slowly: Don’t skim through the instructional sections and word problems to save on time. If you have to go back to read them again, you’ll have wasted time more time than you would have reading at a normal pace the first time around.

3. Go with Your Gut: It’s usually a good idea to go back and check your work on a test, but because time is so limited on SHL-style exams, you’ll want to keep moving. You’ll lose more points if you leave questions unanswered then you would probably gain checking over your work.

Companies That Use SHL Tests

These are some of the many companies that use SHL psychometric tests:

Final Thoughts on SHL Test Preparation

SHL-style tests can seem overwhelming. They can be quite difficult, and it’s normal to be nervous. That being said, practice does make perfect. The more you prepare, the better off you’ll be.