Top 5 tips to pass the verbal reasoning tests

Verbal reasoning features in most psychometric tests and is used to test your vocabulary, comprehension, and command of rules of usage called grammar. In other words, they reveal how well you can analyse written information. Alexandra Toma explains.

Usually, the format is a short passage of text followed by true, false and cannot say questions. They’re designed to assess your ability to understand what you’ve read, think constructively and reach accurate conclusions.

While in general students are not as concerned with verbal reasoning as they are with numerical reasoning, it is important to be aware that the format of verbal reasoning can be very tricky. That is because the given passages of text are deliberately written in complex, sometimes convoluted language. Small assumptions can catch you out. You might end up being unsure of what you just read, and, in turn, the time might expire before you submit your answer.

Here are the top things you need to pay attention to in verbal reasoning:

  1. Brush up your reading skills

Reading skills are usually not a priority in our ‘top skills to develop’ list, but they might come in handy when you expect it the least. Get in the habit of reading complex news. As a King’s Student, you can benefit from unlimited access to articles and tools for free. Learn more here. For example, you can pick out the key points and arguments and identify how the author supports them. This will develop your analytical skills as well, and you will become more skilled at identifying the core message of a complex text.

  1. Read each paragraph carefully

As always, accuracy is more important than speed. You have to fully understand the message that the passage tries to convey: it can be quite dense and it is deliberately boring, but don’t try to rush through it.  Before you answer the question, you should already have decoded the main messages.

  1. Don’t make assumptions

This might be very tempting, especially if you are very facts-oriented person. Don’t factor in general knowledge or real-life experiences that you know prove or disprove a statement. You must take the information you’re presented with literally. It does not matter if the passage says that earth if flat, and you know from your own experience that is not. You have to solve the question based on the information presented to you, no matter how absurd it might seem.

  1. Be in the right mindset & stay calm

As with any psychometric testing format, you need to be in the right state of mind. You have the convenience to take the test whenever and wherever, so just make sure you find the moment you are most comfortable and ready. Bear in mind that you should not be in a hurry; don’t let anxiety get the best of you. Some meditation and deep breathing beforehand can help with the nerves.

  1. Practice, practice, practice

Not surpassingly, as much as we hate to hear it everywhere if passing is important for you, be prepared to put aside hours in which to practice. Other candidates will be trying to do this, so you must too, otherwise you risk coming a very poor second.


Some resources where you can improve your performance are:

  • E-Book ‘How to Pass Graduate Psychometric Tests’, by Mike Byron access ( this E-book contains a lot of exercises to practice!)  
  • Assessment Day – KCL student access here.  
  • Free SHL Verbal Reasoning Test access here.
  • More resources here .