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SHL Numerical Reasoning: Test Sample and Guide

Oct 14, 2022

What Is the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

The SHL Numerical Reasoning Test evaluates the ability of a candidate to calculate, analyse and assess numerical data. It is one of the most popular pre-employment tests worldwide, used by companies such as:

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Barclays
  • British Airways 


There are three versions of the SHL:

  • SHL Verify Numerical Reasoning Test (interactive) – Consisting of 10 questions with an 18-minute time limit
  • SHL Verify Numerical Reasoning Test (multiple choice) – Consisting of 30 questions and a 36-minute time limit
  • SHL CEB Verify Numerical Reasoning Test – Only used on rare occasions and consists of 18 questions to be completed in 25 minutes


The interactive version is typically the most common type as the questions are more complex and require deeper thinking. Instead of simply answering questions, you might be asked to assess the information and make the appropriate corrections or tweaks.

The tests are available on- and offline, but they are more commonly completed online as they can be taken at a time that suits you and there is no supervision.

Calculators are allowed for the multiple-choice and interactive versions. If you are sitting the CEB Verify version, you will need to check with your recruiter if you can use a calculator.

The areas assessed include:

  • Fractions
  • Ratios
  • Graphs
  • Statistics
  • Percentages
  • Averages


As your test score determines whether you progress to the next stage of the recruitment process, it is advised that you prepare as much as possible with a comprehensive preparation pack, such as the one from TestHQ.

This article will also help you to prepare by:

  • Providing information about the test
  • Giving question examples
  • Offering preparation tips 


Example Questions for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test

Question 1:

Approximately, by what percentage did unemployment increase in Q2 between 2019 and 2020?

a) 100%
c) 50%
d) 75%


Question 2:

Manchester Airport has to reduce delayed take-offs by 50% by June. Approximately, by how many flights did they fail to reach this target?

a) 5
b) 50
c) 20
d) 0


Question 3:

















How much USD can you buy with 4,500 GBP?

a) $3,186
b) $3,150
c) $3,187
d) $3,190


Question 4:

Consider the information and the graph, and make the appropriate corrections and tweaks.





Product A   

5 million

  6 million

  9 million

Product B

2 million

  1 million

  4 million

Product C

3 million

  4 million

  4.5 million



The correct answers are:

1. b) 180%. To calculate the percentage increase between two numbers, you find the difference between the numbers (67 – 24 = 43) and divide that by the first value. The first value in this scenario is 1.79 (43/24 = 1.79). You then multiply that number by 100, giving you 179%.

2. c) 20. You need to learn the number of flights that must take off on time to reach 50%. As 89 flights left the airport in March, there needs to be an improvement of 45 (89/2 = 44.5 but half a flight can’t be on time, so round it up). In June, 63 flights were delayed, so they were 18 short of making their target. As the answer is meant to be approximate, the closest supplied answer is 20.

3. a) $3,186. 4,500 x 0.7082 = 3,186.9. As you don’t have enough GBP for $3,187, the closest amount is $3,186.  

4. Product B 2019 figure is wrong – it should read 2 million, not 10. Product C 2019 should read 3, not 7. Product C 2020 data is missing.


Access Practice Material With TestHQ

How did you do with the example questions? If you were stronger at some sections over others, focus your practice on where you need it most.

For a huge range of practice material, take advantage of the TestHQ SHL numerical reasoning practice tests to access more than 800 questions and answers.

The package includes full solutions and explanations, so you can understand how to get to the correct answer and avoid those dreaded point deductions.


Why Are SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests Used?

SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests are used by many brands in their recruitment process to measure a candidate's mathematical skills.

They are especially common during large recruitment drives such as graduate programmes.

The aim of the test is to identify those applicants with exceptional numerical reasoning skills and eliminate those without. This is a particularly useful tactic for roles with many applications that require a certain level of numerical skill.

There are multiple versions of numerical reasoning tests from different providers; the one you sit will often depend on the job requirements and level.

Some tests assess simple mathematics, while others are more complex and technical.

The SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests are advanced and often require an SHL numerical reasoning preparation pack as the generic practice tests do not cover the complexity of some of the questions.


How to Prepare for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test

There are numerous ways that you can prepare for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test. These include:

Complete Practice Tests

Completing SHL numerical reasoning practice tests are the best way to help you familiarise yourself with the test format. 

If you are taking the interactive version, ensure you have completed verified practice tests, like the ones from TestHQ, that use the drag-and-drop method you will see in the real test.

Completing these tests will also help you identify which areas you need to work on.


Practise Timing

Another benefit of practising is that you have a better understanding of the time constraints.

The interactive version is 18 minutes long, so you have just over 100 seconds to answer each question. The multiple-choice version gives you 72 seconds per question.

Working through sample questions allows you to see how quickly those seconds pass and where you need to dedicate the majority of your time.

When practising, start without any time limits. Once you feel comfortable enough with the question format, begin adding time limits of two or three minutes per question. When you are confident with those times, reduce further until you match the pace of the real test.



Going over old maths solutions and techniques will get you in the test mindset.

There are so many techniques we were taught in school (and have since forgotten) that are useful for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test.

Calculating percentages, ratios and fractions should be your priority. If you can remember the formulas for those calculations, you’ll have more time to answer the questions.


Revisit Your Times Tables

Knowing your times tables off by heart will help you immensely in numerical reasoning tests, especially when working through sums with several elements.


Practise the Elimination Technique

If you’ve prepared enough, you should be able to spot some of the incorrect answers immediately, making it easier for you to estimate the correct answer.

Of course, always try to solve the question thoroughly, but roughly knowing what the answer should be will help you work it out more quickly.


Book the Best Time

When taking the test, book a time that suits you, whether in the evening, morning, afternoon or weekend.

Ensure the location has a good internet connection and is free from distractions.

Be prepared that if you do take the test remotely, you might have to take a second test in an assessment centre to verify your result.


Check Your Equipment

Before starting the test, check all computer software and hardware to ensure they don’t fail during the test.


Take Care of Yourself

Stay rested, hydrated and well-nourished. Being hungry and thirsty can make you feel lethargic and greatly reduce performance.

Before taking the test, eat a well-balanced meal and get a good night’s sleep.


Don't Miss Any Questions

If you find a question particularly challenging, do not leave it blank; take an educated guess.

An empty answer will impact your score.

Equally, try not to move on to the next question with the intention of coming back.

Reading and understanding graphs and data takes time. If you have already dedicated seconds to analysing the information, keep at it. You’ll only waste more time going back and reading the information again.


Read the Question Properly

Take an extra few seconds to read the question properly. This will help avoid any avoidable mistakes.


Ask if Necessary

If you are unclear about any of the test processes or are unsure about which version you are taking, ask your recruiter.

You don’t want to dedicate time to practising the wrong paper and find yourself unable to answer the questions.


How are SHL Numerical Reasoning Tests scored?

SHL Numerical Reasoning Test scores are comparative and fall into one of five categories (A–E).

As employers typically progress the top 20% of candidates, A or B is your target range. Unlike other pre-employment tests, your raw score isn’t considered.

Instead, your score is compared against a group of previous and current candidates. While that sounds intimidating, remember that if the test is difficult for you, it is difficult for others. The scores will reflect this.

The system that scores the tests is incredibly intuitive and the process is complex as no two tests are the same.


Frequently Asked Questions

What online tools can I use to prepare for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

There are lots of online tools to help you prepare for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test such as practice tests, information guides and preparation packs.


Is the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test difficult to pass?

The SHL Numerical Reasoning Test is designed to be challenging but appropriate for the job role. If you are the ideal candidate, the test should not be too difficult. Also, if you have prepared enough, none of the questions should come as a surprise.


What kinds of questions are on the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

Depending on the test you take, there will be multiple-choice questions or an interactive drag-and-drop format. For both types of tests, the questions will ask you to read and analyse information from charts, graphs and tables. You will then have to calculate percentages, averages and differences based on that information.


Where can I find more sample questions for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

You can find sample questions for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test in the TestHQ preparation pack.


Can I retake the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test if I fail?

Except for extenuating circumstances, you cannot retake the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test. The test is part of a recruitment process and only the top performers on the day will progress to the next stage.

If you want to retake the test, you will have to reapply for the job role.


What is the purpose of the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

The purpose of the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test is to highlight those candidates with the numerical skills suitable for the role they have applied for.


What companies require the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

Companies like Amazon, British Airways,  Microsoft, Marks and Spencer and Barclays all use the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test in their recruitment process.


Where can I find a complete study guide for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test?

You can find a complete study guide for the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test here on TestHQ.


Can I take the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test online?

Yes, you can take the SHL Numerical Reasoning Test online. The online version is unsupervised and can be taken at any time in any location. However, the recruiters may invite you to retake the test at an assessment centre to verify your results.


Final Thoughts 

The SHL Numerical Reasoning Test is a pre-employment test designed to identify candidates with the best numerical skills essential for a job role.

While the test is meant to be challenging, those suitable for the role and who take the time to prepare will achieve top scores.

To ensure you are fully prepared, the test packs from TestHQ provide all the information and practice questions you’ll need.

Related Reading - How to Prepare For SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

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