Verbal reasoning strategies

One of the most effective ways of developing your top score on a verbal reasoning test is to develop your test taking strategies.

Your overall approach to taking any form of psychometric assessment can make a big difference to your overall score.

Candidates who don’t have any strategy at all are likely to do poorly, regardless of any prior knowledge or practice tests that have been done. Ultimately, if you are unprepared you are unlikely to demonstrate your maximum level of ability.

What is a test strategy?

People who are experienced in taking cognitive ability tests tend to have quite high levels of test-sophistication – that is they know the best approach to take during any particular test session, regardless of what type of test they’re doing.

Taking lots of tests gives them an advantage over less experienced candidates because their ongoing exposure to this type of assessment will mean they will have developed strategies and techniques to perform at their best.

As a candidate you can use these strategies yourself, which will help you compete against the more seasoned test-takers.


Verbal reasoning strategies

Before the test

Try to make sure you are in peak condition before starting your test. Try to have a good night’s sleep beforehand and if you have to physically be at a location to do the test, make sure you get there early. If your test is online then make sure you have enough time to get setup with minimal stress/rushing around.

Listen/read carefully

If your test is being done in-person, before starting a test administrator will likely read some instructions aloud. Make sure you listen carefully and read any instructions. Try not to let your mind wander as you may miss some vital piece of information.

Ask questions

If there is anything that you don’t understand, make sure you ask about it BEFORE the test starts. Don’t feel nervous about asking – it can help you to avoid any silly mistakes by making sure you completely understand what you need to do.

Pace yourself

Make sure that you know how much time you have to complete the test so you can pace yourself accordingly. Many in-person tests will not have any reminders or warnings about the amount of time you have left, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on it. Online tests will usually have some form of countdown/timer, making it slightly easier to keep track of.


Try to work as quickly and accurately as you can. Try to focus your mind on what you’re doing and don’t let yourself get distracted.

Avoid guessing

When you don’t know an answer try to avoid randomly guessing. If you absolutely have to guess then try to use a process of elimination to increase your chances of answering correctly.


Take our free verbal reasoning practice test


Centre your breathing

If you’re feeling anxious before the test session starts you can centre yourself and reduce anxious feeling by taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply and slowly, focusing on the sensations that are occurring in your body. Do the same again, but this time on the out-breath. Do this for a few minutes and you should be feeling relaxed enough to  tackle the test.




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