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The SHL Test is a common test that is given to candidates in the hiring process to determine critical thinking skills with restricted time to complete the test.

It’s used mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States for large companies that strive off big decisions that can cost a lot of money. More prestigious companies with huge staffs are using the SHL test all the time and for good reason – if you can stay calm and pass the SHL Test, then you should be able to handle most of the situations that come your way in the run of a workweek.

Companies use the SHL Test to help them decide if a candidate can handle strict deadlines, make big decisions, and can maintain a calm composure during a hectic, busy time.

What Companies Use SHL Tests?

Some huge companies use pre-employment tests like the SHL test and more before hiring someone. Some companies used them even before conducting 1-on-1 interviews.

Below are a few of the most well-known companies using these type of assessment tests:

  • Amazon
  • HSBC
  • Air France
  • Mercury Energy
  • Dublin Airport Authority
  • Ericsson
  • And many more!

SHL Tests are not easy, and that’s the point. Companies can easily cut candidates and get to the cream of the crop with these tests, and that’s why these above companies use it to help them hire the best people.

These days, even company leaders have been taking assessment tests like the SHL test because they have proved to be such an effective way to determine the type of person you are. They challenge your critical thinking, keep you sharp mentally, and help you keep yourself grounded.

Commercial Apartment Building - Career in Facilities Management-SHL Exam

More About SHL Tests

As we mentioned, SHL Tests are known to be very difficult, with an average passing rate of 20% or less. There are tough time restrictions when taking these tests and unique questions are the main factor being many candidates being caught unprepared

Most companies will not surprise people on the spot with an SHL Test (although I’m sure some companies do), but even just a few days you’ll typically get between being told you’ll have to take on and doing the test will make it tougher. Many people in the past have had to quickly research what an SHL test is a day or two before taking the actual test, with their future hanging in the balance.

Even if you have extensive education and work experience behind you, the SHL test may be tough for you. It will be unlike most of the other tests you’ve taken and it is based more on critical thinking then it is knowledge of the industry or the field.

One common issue when candidates go into SHL tests is having them underestimate the difficulty of the test and the process. This assessment test was created to be very challenging so companies can trust the process and they know they’re finding the best candidates.

6 Categories of SHL Tests

There are six main categories of SHL tests that are available for companies to use on candidates. Here are the six different categories you might come across:

1. Numerical Reasoning.

This test covers a wide range of math topics, allowing the company to assess the candidate’s ability to deal with complex questions in a short amount of time. Calculators can be used, but you’ll still need to know what you’re looking at.

2. Verbal Reasoning.

This test covers topics from conventional logic questions to different analogies you may come across in everyday work life. The questions here will assess the candidate’s capability to handle the passing of verbal information and how they can navigate the English language.

3. Abstract Reasoning. 

Logical decisions to tough situations will be tested in this test. It’s similar to culture & language-neutral IQ tests and will assess your ability to make decisions when time is short and the outcome is important.

4. Mechanical Comprehension.

This test covers a candidate’s ability to figure out solutions to mechanical issues. This portion of SHL tests is usually given early on in the screening process because the mechanical aspect of certain jobs is so important.

5. Inductive Reasoning.

This test addresses the person’s ability to look at the similarities between items and using shapes or patterns to show the relationship.

6. Spatial Awareness. 

Candidates will need to comprehend spatial dimensions and need to answer questions about reflection and rotation.

SHL Test Passing Rate

The passing rate of the SHL tests is very low. Even experienced and educated people struggle with these tests and come out of it shocked by how poorly they did. These tests are unlike most other tests you’ll ever make, especially in the interview process for a job.

The time restraints make things very tough and the tests now have such a tough reputation that people go into them feeling intimidated and scared. Only 1 in 5 people pass the test so it’s understandable for people to be nervous.

I recommend not looking too deep into the low passing rate because there is no recipe for success when taking an SHL test. Some very qualified people struggle with this test while inexperienced new graduates who are used to taking tests can do quite well.

SHL Exam

How to Prepare for SHL Tests

Interviews are stressful. I know it, you know it, we all know!

People look for things they can do to make an interview less stressful and hectic and, in turn, they up their chances of getting the position. The job interview process is everything and it’s not easy, especially if an SHL test comes up.

There are a few things to think about when taking mock SHL tests and getting ready to go into an SHL test.

  • Accuracy: the rate at which you choose the right answer.
  • Time: the time it takes for you to get through the SHL questions.

There’s no way to get ready for SHL tests other than doing actual tests, as well as some great mock SHL tests that have popped up over the last few years. These mock tests can help you get mentally tough so an SHL test won’t come right out of the left field and completely surprise you.

By using these mock tests and getting exposed to questions that may be presented in SHL tests, you are ensuring that you can answer these types of questions accurately and effectively.

The Right Mindset To Take An SHL Test

Getting in the correct mindset before taking an SHL test is important. This isn’t a typical interview where you talk with someone 1-on-1 and chat about your past experiences and education. We’re talking about taking an intense, thought-provoking SHL test that will ask you tough questions.

There are a few things you can do the night before and as you head into taking a test:

  • Complete an intense workout. It all depends on when you’re taking the SHL test, but an intense workout the night before or the morning of will remove any jitters you have and free your mind to feel energized.
  • Get comfortable. I said it before, but figure out how you feel most comfortable and go through the process before taking your SHL test. A comfortable mind will perform better under pressure.
  • Get some quiet time. I would recommend taking an hour for you to get away from preparing for the test with some quiet time. Find a quiet place and try to empty your mind of all thinking. Enjoy the silence and the time away from everything stressful and busy.
  • Get some sleep. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. Sleep is the best energizer for your mind and is very important before heading into an SHL test.
  • Eat some food. Another great energizer is food. It will fire you up and provide fuel for your body and mind so you can put all of your efforts into the test. I recommend eating for one hour or so before taking the test.


As we’ve talked about to extent, SHL tests are tough. The situations they are given in, the time restraints, and the questions themselves make taking an SHL test an intimidating experience.

The best thing someone can do when they know they are taking an SHL test is to try and get as prepared as they can. Through mock tests and reading online articles, you can get a feel for what’s to come and you can mentally psyche yourself up.

These tests are not easy and a bit of preparation can be the difference between passing one of these tests – and failing. An assessment test like the SHL test might not be the difference between getting a job and not getting it, but it might be, and it’s better to be prepared.



Written By
Darcy Cudmore is a Journalism graduate now working with PrepTerminal. He has experience in PR, digital marketing, and communications. Find him sitting with a Stephen King book in his hands.

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