What Are Verbal Ability Tests? (With Example Questions)

Updated 6 March 2023

The aim of a verbal ability test is to gauge a candidate's command over the English language and test their ability to think coherently. Companies and educational institutions consider these tests as an important part of their selection process as they can help selectors determine the candidate's ability to efficiently process verbal and written information. Learning about these tests can provide you with the knowledge that can help you clear them. In this article, we discuss what are verbal ability tests, explore some important topics that are included in them and find out how you can prepare for them.

What are verbal ability tests?

The answer to the question, "What are verbal ability tests?", can lead you to various nuances of these tests that can include grammar and spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension and critical thinking. Also known as verbal reasoning or verbal aptitude test, selectors can use a verbal ability test as an assessment tool for competitive exams or job interviews. Your test responses can help selectors know how clearly you can express your thoughts and ideas using words. This test is often a part of a larger test called psychometric test, which assesses a candidate's skills, knowledge, attitude and personality.

Related: Skills Test: Definition And Examples

Important topics in verbal ability tests

From finding errors in a sentence to completing a sentence with the right word, here is a list of some important topics which can be part of a verbal ability section along with example questions:


Through a grammar test, selectors may assess your language skills and if you are aware of the rules of the language. The questions in this test can involve punctuation, tenses, direct or indirect speech, article and countable and uncountable nouns. Here are some example questions in the grammar section:

1. Vishesh is __________ oncologist.

a) a
b) an
c) the

2. Which of the following is not an article?

a) a
b) it
c) the
d) an

3. Which of the following is passive voice?

a) Is a doctor going to examine you?
b) Are you going to be examined by a doctor?

4. Complete the sentences with the correct form of the present tense.

Anaya usually __________ to school by school bus, but today her father __________ her. (go, drive)


A spelling test can allow the selector to assess your ability to spell words correctly, as spelling is an essential part of effective communication, which can help you express yourself clearly. When you spell words correctly, it may become easy for the reader to read, as good spelling may eliminate confusion. Here are some example questions in the spelling section:

1. The baby's soft skin was __________ to the harsh winter wind.

a) sinsitive
b) sensitive
c) sensative
d) sinsative

2. It is my __________ that bank employees handle customers with great professionalism.

a) beleif
b) bilief
c) belief
d) beleaf

3. Do not stay in the water for too long, your fingertips will __________.

a) shrivel
b) shrivvel
c) shrivell
d) shrival

4. In a democracy, everybody has a right to __________ their freedom of speech.

a) excercise
b) exercise
c) exersize
d) exercize

Synonyms, antonyms and vocabulary

Through questions on synonyms and antonyms, the selectors may aim to assess how good is your vocabulary. When you can use words interchangeably or when you can present the opposite meaning of an idea, you can effectively showcase your proficiency in vocabulary. Here are some example questions in the synonym and antonym section:

1. Which word means the same as apathy?

a) bitterness
b) sorrow
c) indifference
d) concern

2. When we asked Avantika to come to our party, she gave an excuse that did not seem real. (change the word real with an option below)

a) plausible
b) improbable
c) far-fetched
d) particular

3. Which word is the opposite of soothe?

a) increase
b) comfort
c) aggravate
d) delight

4. The painting in the storeroom turned out to be a veritable __________ of valuable antiques.

a) bonanza
b) rubble


When you compare one thing with the other to explain an idea or a thought, that is known as an analogy. To answer analogy questions, you can observe a relationship between the first set of words and do the same for the second set of words. Through this, the selectors can know how efficiently you can draw comparisons. Here are some example questions in the analogy section:

1. candid : indirect :: honest : __________

a) frank
b) immoral
c) truthful
d) deceitful

2. exactly : precisely :: clearly : __________

a) positively
b) apparently
c) barely
d) absolutely

3. beginner : novice :: pursuit : __________

a) obsession
b) control
c) quest
d) pace

Reading comprehension

The questions on reading comprehension can allow the selectors to know how good is your understanding of the text and how well you comprehend various ideas. When answered correctly, these questions can showcase your ability to concentrate, think clearly and convey messages coherently. Here are some example questions in the reading comprehension section:

1. Answer questions a to c based on the following passage.

The ravages [of the storm] were terrible in America, Europe, and Asia. Towns were overthrown, forests uprooted, coasts devastated by the mountains of water which were precipitated on them, vessels cast on the shore, whole districts levelled by waterspouts, several thousand people crushed on land or drowned at sea; such were the traces of its (c) __________, left by this devastating tempest. (passage by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

a. What is the meaning of the word overthrown in the context of this passage?

i) surrendered
ii) devastated
iii) capitulated
iv) yielded

b. What is the meaning of the word levelled in the context of this passage?

i) razed
ii) marked
iii) spread
iv) raised

c. Which word, if inserted in the blank, makes the most sense in the context of this passage?

i) velocity
ii) fury
iii) reward
iv) benevolence

2. Answer questions d and e based on the following passage.

One summer, while visiting in the little village among the Green Mountains where her ancestors had dwelt for (d) ________, my Aunt Georgiana kindled the callow fancy of my uncle, Howard Carpenter, then an idle, shiftless boy of twenty-one. (passage by Willa Cather)

d. Which word, if inserted in the blank, makes the most sense in the context of the passage?

i) days
ii) seasons
iii) infinity
iv) generations

e. What is the meaning of the word shiftless in the context of the passage?

i) amiable
ii) ruthless
iii) lazy
iv) carefree

3. Read the passage to answer the two questions below it.

Tailgating another vehicle is unsafe and illegal. Drivers following too close to the vehicle in front of them cause many rear-end collisions. The rules state that a driver must keep a sufficient distance from the vehicle in front to stop safely and avoid a collision. Drivers should allow a minimum two seconds' gap between their vehicle and the one ahead. At 60 kilometres an hour, this equates to 33 metres; at 100 it equates to 55 metres. They need more distance to safely stop in rain or poor visibility.

a. Tailgating another vehicle is unsafe because:

i) all rear-end collisions are caused by drivers following too close to the vehicle in front
ii) it may not allow sufficient time and space to stop and avoid a collision
iii) it is against the road rules
iv) it is a reckless practice
v) none of these

b. 'They need more distance to safely stop in rain or poor visibility.' What do we infer from this?

i) people drive faster in the rain and have poor visibility
ii) the writer is merely calculating on the safe side
iii) braking is more hazardous in the rain and poor visibility
iv) the road rules state that this must be so
v) all of these

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your English Communication Skills

Preparing for verbal ability tests

Reading more can be your best chance to pass any verbal ability test. These tests can be fun to attempt, but the section can get confusing. For example, the vocabulary section where a single word can have multiple definitions, can test your verbal skills. To prepare for these tricky questions, you can make a habit of reading a newspaper for an hour every day. You can also pick up classic novels by critically acclaimed authors to get a better understanding of reading comprehension. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare for verbal ability tests:

  • search for verbal ability tests online and carefully go through the varied questions

  • start reading a dictionary to learn the meaning of words, synonyms and antonyms

  • buy a grammar book and start performing various exercises given at the end of every lesson

  • visit book shops and ask for the previous year's sample papers made for various competitive exams

  • look for dedicated books that extensively cover verbal ability and reading comprehension

  • join coaching classes to learn tips and tricks to successfully clear the verbal ability section

  • buy or subscribe to verbal ability mock tests and analyse your score to improve

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