Category Archives: verbal reasoning test

Have a go at practice verbal reasoning test questions for training contract applications on biology!

Biology is a subject area in the brand new innovative, independent, platform for practising online verbal reasoning assessments called ‘Legal Recruit‘.

Hope you enjoy these questions.

1          Every day, we are bombarded with scientific and medical claims that are not based on good evidence: in advertising material, product websites, advice columns, campaign statements, celebrity health fads and policy announcements. Even where there is some regulation, in advertising or trading standards, such claims keep reappearing.  “Sense About Science”, along with over 5,000 scientists, scientific bodies, research publishers and policy makers, don’t want people to continue getting away with making claims without supporting evidence. They want things to change, so that anyone making a claim expects to be challenged, and is made to stand by their words. The only way to do this is to get more people asking for evidence.


Q1 Campaign statements are never based on good evidence.


CANNOT SAY. ‘Campaign statements’ are given as examples of scientific and medical claims which are not based on good evidence.


Q2 “Sense About Science” wants people to continue getting away making claims without supporting evidence.


FALSE. The passage states the precise opposite.


2          We hear about bacteria for lots of different reasons, and it’s unusual for many of them to be ‘good’. Indeed, the last time most people probably remember seeing bacteria make headlines was the contamination of salad vegetables with a deadly Escherichia coli strain relatively recently. However, as any microbiologist will tell you, bacteria are an extremely diverse group of organisms, with equally diverse properties which make some of them indispensable for many aspects of our lives; including food production, digestion and water treatment. For example, Geobacter sulfurreducens is just one of many bacterial superheroes. In this case, its superpower is ‘bioremediation’; the use of its metabolism to remove pollutants from the environment.


Q3 There is a very narrow range of strains in the bacteria class.


FALSE. Bacteria are stated to be an extremely diverse group of organisms.


Q4 Bacteria are never used for water treatment.


FALSE. Bacteria are said to play an ‘indispensible’ role in many functions, including water treatment.



3          While some birds only migrate locally in response to extreme weather conditions, others undertake seasonal long-distance migration between land masses and sometimes hemispheres.  The most impressive avian migrator is, by far, the Arctic tern (Sterna paradisaea). Weighing an average of 100g, with a average wingspan of 75 – 85 cm, the birds sometimes nest just once every three years, as so much of their 30 year life span is spent in flight. The bird has the longest seasonal movement than any other animal, and the birds move so consistently with the seasons that they only ever see long days; they experience more sunlight per year than any other creature.


Q5 80 cm is a reasonable estimate wingspan of the African tern.


CANNOT SAY. The information given only refers to the Artic tern.


Q6 It is rare for the Artic Tern to be exposed to sunlight, compared to other creatures.


FALSE. The passage states that the Artic Tern ‘experience more sunlight per year than any other creature’.


4          There’s actually 47 known species of ‘leafcutter ants’, endemic to South and Central America, which live in colonies of up to ten million individuals organised into a complex social structure. The leaf cutting ants don’t actually eat the leaves they harvest – this is part of an elaborate process of cultivating a mutualistic fungus, which in turn provides the ants with the nutrients on which they feed. Efficiency of fungal cultivation is dependent on roles played by distinct ‘castes’ of ants, based mostly on size. Large workers forage for leaves and defend the colony, while smaller workers farm the fungus and tend to the nest. There’s even a designated waste removal team.


Q7 There are currently over 50 species of ‘leafcutter ants’.


CANNOT SAY. The passage states that there are 47 ‘known species’ of ‘leafcutter ants’, but it is not known how many unknown species of ‘leafcutter ants’ there currently are.


Q8 Only the caste of ants determines the efficiency of fungal cultivation done by ants.


FALSE. The passage states that distinct ‘castes’ of ants determine the efficiency of fungal cultivation done by ants.



5          Obesity is a growing problem worldwide, but proper protein consumption can help keep it at bay. Researchers have found that, when subjects were fed a 10% protein diet, they consumed 12% more energy over four days than they did on a 15% protein diet. Moreover, 70% of the increased energy intake on the lower protein diet was attributed to snacking. When the protein content was further increased to 25%, however, the researchers observed no change in behaviour relative to the 15% protein diet. It had previously been suggested that protein content plays an important role in determining overall energy intake, and thus affects obesity, but until this study, experimental verification had been lacking.


Q9 Obesity is only a problem in the U.S.


FALSE. Obesity is said to be a ‘growing problem worldwide’.


Q10 Protein content plays an important role in determining overall energy intake.


CANNOT SAY. No definite conclusion can be drawn from this study. Despite the findings of this study, the statement could still be true.



6          The anti-obesity properties of resveratrol have been demonstrated for the first time in a primate. Researchers recently studied the compound, generated naturally by plants to ward off pathogens, which has received much interest as a dietary supplement for its supposed life-extending effects. A team of researchers from Paris have decided to investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with resveratrol on the weight, metabolism and energy intake of six mouse lemurs. The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. The team found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29%.


Q11 Based on research in the rat, resveratrol could be a good candidate for the development of anti-obesity therapies.


CANNOT SAY. The research described used a sample of lemurs (primates).


Q12 In this study, lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound increased their energy intake by an average of 13%.


TRUE. This is a finding from this study.


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Examples of practice online verbal reasoning test questions

In the article below, none of the exemplars have been written by or in collaboration with SHL Direct. Candidates are advised to look at their learning materials carefully. This article is only provided as helpful educational guidance.

In some verbal reasoning test, you are usually provided with a passage of information and required to evaluate a set of statements by selecting one of the following possible answers:

 A – True (The statement follows logically from the information or opinions contained in the passage)

B – False (The statement is logically false from the information or opinions contained in the passage)

C – Cannot Say (Cannot determine whether the statement is true or false without further information)


In the example below, you might give your answer to each question by clicking on either A, B or C. You will be told whether your answer is correct or not.

 Example passage:

Over 60 years ago, evolutionary biologist Bernhard Rensch calculated that males are typically the larger sex in big-bodied species such as humans, whereas females outdo them in small-bodied species such as spiders. Now it turns out that many plants obey Rensch’s rule too. Most plants produce both male and female sex organs, but around 7 percent are dioecious, meaning individuals are purely male or female. Recent results provide that female stems also must be large enough to display the fruit and support the animals that spread the pollen or seeds. If metabolism, predators or climate promote the evolution of smaller plants, however, males can shrink because their gametes are smaller.

Examples of questions might be: 

1. Over 80 years ago, Bernard Rensch calculated that males are typically the larger sex in big-bodied species.

CANNOT SAY – the passage says that Bernard Rensch calculated this over 60 years ago, but it is not possible to say from the passage whether he calculated this over 80 years ago.

 2. Around 7% of plants are dioecious, but it is not necessary for female stems to be large enough to display the fruit.

FALSE – whilst the first part of the statement is true according to the passage, the second part of the statement is clearly false, making the entire statement false

Here are example questions with a business theme.


Business schools and venture capital firms have long organised entrepreneur-in-residence programs, tapping seasoned founders for a year or two to mentor students or evaluate potential investments. Now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are launching what it calls its own “Entrepreneurs in residence” initiative, to bring business leaders and academics into the agency to meet regularly with officials to improve the visa process. The goal is to “capture the full power of the laws that currently exist to attract talent to spur entrepreneurial growth, to maximize innovation – all for the benefit of our economy and the American worker“, according to agency director Alejandro Mayorkas. Specifics on the push Mayorkas announced today are still being hammered out. Names of the participants and mechanics on how the in-person meetings will work have not been announced yet, though the organiser expects to do so in the next week or so.

Venture capital firms have only recently been involved in organising entrepreneur-in-residence programs.

FALSE. The passage states that venture capital firms have ‘long organised’ such programs.

Names of  the participants and information about how the in-person meetings will work will be announced within the next week.

CANNOT SAY. The passage provides that it is expected that this information will be provided within the next week, but it is not definitely the case that the information will be announced within the next week.


The number of so-called contingent workers has not been measured since 2005, when the Bureau of Labour Statistics last calculated the population. And now that the bureau has requested funding to resume the headcount, the Freelancers Union advocacy group is calling for changes in the way these workers are labeled and how their contribution to the U.S. economy is being measured. In a new policy paper, the Freelancers Union argues that the government is “ignoring a crucial, and growing, segment of the economy that is transforming the U.S. workforce.” The BLS’s ‘contingent work supplement’ was discontinued six years ago due to lack of funding. That year, contingent workers, which the BLS defines as labourers who consider their jobs temporary, made up about 4 percent of total employment.

‘Contingent workers’ are workers for work for an organisation on a non-permanent basis.

CANNOT SAY. This is in fact a valid definition of ‘contingent workers’, but this definition is not provided in the passage.

The BLS’ ‘contingent work supplement’ was discontinued a month ago due to lack of funding.

FALSE. This supplement was discontinued six years ago.


Small business owners are suffering from an economy hurt by reduced consumer
 spending and stagnant growth, according to a new survey by the National Small
 Business Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group. More than one-third say they aren’t confident about the future of their business from a financial perspective. Eighty-eight percent anticipate a recession or flat economy in the next year, an increase from 78 percent six months ago. Forty-five percent expect no growth opportunities in the coming year, up from 40 percent in December. Given the ongoing economic difficulties the U.S. has faced the past three years, small business owners overwhelmingly cited economic uncertainty as the most significant challenge to the future growth and survival of their business, according to the report.

Small business owners are suffering from lack of bank loans.

CANNOT SAY. Consumer spending and stagnant growth are cited as causes of hurt for small business owners, but one cannot exclude the possibility of small business owners suffering from lack of bank loans.

Six months ago 10 percent anticipated a recession or flat economy in the next year.

FALSE. Six months ago 78 percent anticipated a recession or flat economy in the next year.

To access lots of free materials, including factsheets and videos on psychometric tests, please go to the ‘Legal Recruit’ website.

@Legal_Recruit is also on Twitter here.

To take a free online trial, look at the second half of this page.

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Low end disruptive innovation in psychometric testing for students with disabilities

The new ‘Legal Recruit’ site (twitter thread), to launch on 1 November 2011, offers law students a chance to get better at the verbal reasoning test of the sort they might do if they have to a @SHLGROUP test as part of an application for a training contract or vacation scheme placement. The only way to practice these tests properly is to try out the practice assessment which SHL Direct have themselves set.

As a student with a visual impairment myself (I have problems visualising text because of significant diplopia), I wished to design a platform so that students, including students with visual impairments, can easily practice verbal reasoning tests. I’d like law students who are applying through these SHL tests to get good at them. The online practice platform I’ve designed is an example of disruptive technology; I am currently studying innovation management as part of my special electives on my MBA at BPP Business School (as a full-time student).

Disruptive technologies are not always disruptive to customers, and often take a long time before they are significantly disruptive to established companies. I have no intention of making my platform ‘disruptive’ to SHL. In fact, I want students, including people like me with disabilities, to perform well or even shine at these tests when they’re applying for the corporate firms that use them. This unfortunately goes along with the idea popular amongst disabled trainees and disabled seniors that often that you have ‘to be better than the competition’, just to get to play on the “equal playing field”, sad but true, if true.

Disruptive technologies are often difficult to recognise. Indeed, as Professor Clayton Christensen points out and studies have shown (Clayton is Chair in Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, it is often entirely rational for incumbent companies to ignore disruptive innovations, since they can compare so badly with existing technologies or products, and the deceptively small market available for a disruptive innovation is often very small compared to the market for the established technology. SHL is a well-established provider of psychometric tests in the “grown-up world” of legal recruitment; my platform is run to help students who wish to succeed to the best of their ability in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

Disruptive technologies like my psychometric testing platform, too, can be subtly disruptive, rather than prominently so. Previous examples include digital photography (the sharp decline in consumer demand for common 35 mm print film resulting from the popularity of memory cards). In fact, my online assessment platform contains many of the features that work about the SHL verbal reasoning tests (such as a chance to know how much time has elapsed etc.). The subtle disruption I’m introducing is a simple button where you can enlarge the size of text, a simple innovation, but one which can make a huge difference to the wellbeing or happiness of students doing such tests. The point about my test is that the student can now concentrate on getting the answers to the verbal reasoning problems correct, not concentrate on surviving reading the text with enormous difficulty in the time limit.

For example, here’s the sample question for the learner without reasonable adjustments.

Now, here’s the sample question for the learner with reasonable adjustments for visual impairments, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

I hope that students with visual impairments, dyslexia or dyspraxia know that they can “ask for reasonable adjustments”. If legal recruiters fail to make such reasonable adjustments on the production of appropriate evidence, they may indeed be acting unlawfully under equality discrimination here in the UK. I believe my innovation is actually a low end disruption.  Arguably, Spotify is an example of a ‘low end disruption’ (see for example here). This is a powerful concept in innovation management, described here for Spotify:

At first, a disruptive product fails to deliver a superior offering to the incumbent technology in one or more characteristics of the job-to-be-done. But consumers switch nonetheless because the disruptor has a systemic advantage in at least one of these characteristics. We gave up minicomputer performance for the cost advantage of PCs, we gave up plasma television contrast for the slimness of the LCD, and we gave up the personality of written letters for the speed of emails.

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