Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning

As educators, we become familiar with dozens, if not hundreds, of different methods for teaching and testing our students. Even within the same subject, there are so many different kinds of aptitude tests that it can be hard to keep up sometimes! But, some testing styles survive longer than others.

Verbal reasoning tests have been around in the UK since at least the 1950s, as this historic blog recounts:

“Pupils would practice previous papers in school in order to prepare for these tests, which included writing an essay, a maths paper, and both verbal and non-verbal reasoning papers. The verbal reasoning would test a child’s command of the English language, whereas the non-verbal reasoning paper was designed to test a child’s IQ with puzzles and problem-solving questions.”

Although we don’t assign specific IQ scores or use chalkboards anymore, the verbal reasoning questions remain a reliable means of testing someone’s critical thinking ability.

What is Verbal Reasoning?

Verbal reasoning refers to the ability to understand and reason using words and language. It is one step further than mere reading comprehension. Verbal reasoning is an important skill in many contexts, including academic, professional, and personal settings.

A basic example of verbal reasoning might involve analyzing a simple argument in a passage of text For example:

All cats have fur.

Fluffy is a cat.

Therefore, Fluffy has fur.

In this simple example, you are using logical reasoning to reach a conclusion based on two premises. You are applying your understanding of the relationship between cats and fur to the specific case of Fluffy, and deducing that Fluffy must also have fur.

In academic contexts, verbal reasoning is often assessed through standardized tests such as the SAT or GRE, where it is used to measure a student’s ability to understand and analyze complex written material. In professional settings, verbal reasoning may be used in tasks such as analyzing legal documents or drafting reports. In personal settings, verbal reasoning may be used to evaluate and interpret information presented in conversations, news articles, or other written material.

What are verbal reasoning tests?

Verbal reasoning tests are examples of psychometric tests designed to assess a person’s critical reasoning and ability to apply logic through understanding a passage of text.

A verbal reasoning test is used to assess your ability to understand and comprehend written passages. They’re designed to measure your verbal comprehension, reasoning, and logic, all through your understanding of language. Some people when reading a statement jump to conclusions or misinterpret information — this is what the test will be able to find out about you.

Verbal reasoning tests usually take the form of a written passage followed by a series of questions with possible True, False, or Cannot Say responses, similar to a multiple-choice format. There will almost always be a maximum amount of time you can spend on the test.

Why are verbal reasoning tests important?

Even though they’ve been around for a long time, many companies require prospective employees to pass a verbal reasoning test as a part of their employment criterion. Their ability to assess someone’s critical thinking, verbal ability, and ability to work under time pressure means that verbal reasoning tests remain an industry standard for many different work sectors. This is especially true of sectors such as law and education. A survey conducted by found that people applying for jobs in those sectors had a 90% chance of being given a verbal reasoning test as a part of the recruitment process.

Developing strong verbal reasoning skills requires practice and attention to detail. Reading widely and critically, engaging in debates and discussions, and practicing writing and speaking skills are all effective ways to improve verbal reasoning abilities. It’s also important to cultivate a curious and open-minded attitude toward language and its uses and to be willing to challenge and question assumptions.

Practice Tests

Familiarising your students with the format of a verbal reasoning test can provide them with a great introduction to this kind of ability test and should make it a bit less of a shock when they encounter one out in the wild! has free verbal reasoning tests that you can try for free! They have both practice questions and answers on various topics. Each practice test has nine questions and a time limit of ten minutes. They provide you with a score and note your correct answers at the end.

Verbal Reasoning Test Tips
  • Read the instructions carefully: Before you start the test, make sure you understand the instructions. Pay attention to the number of questions, time limit, and whether there is a penalty for incorrect answers.
  • Practice different types of questions: Verbal reasoning tests can include different types of questions, such as analogies, sentence completion, and reading comprehension. Practice different types of questions to improve your skills and build your confidence.
  • Keep calm and carry on: Take deep breaths, and try to stay relaxed. Don’t panic if you don’t know the answer to a question — sometimes the best strategy is to make an educated guess and move on.
  • Improve vocabulary: A big strength in comprehension is having a large supply of synonyms available. Answering a specific question can be extremely difficult if you don’t understand one of the words. Similarly, understanding antonyms will prepare your students for these kinds of language-focused assessment tests.

Verbal reasoning tests are a very common means of assessing someone’s critical thinking skills. Introducing this test format to your students will not only help you measure their verbal reasoning skills but also prepare them for a test they’ll likely encounter at some point once they leave school.

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