Pre-selection tests - test information

Verbal reasoning test

The verbal reasoning test will test your ability to understand texts quickly and to choose the right answer from a selection.
After your application at EPSO, you will be informed about the number of questions and the time available to solve them. The computer based tests of recent open competitions provides a total of 10 questions and 18 minutes, which means 118 seconds per question in average. There are many ways to solve the verbal reasoning test questions correctly.

The verbal reasoning test usually consists of a text with several questions. The texts consist of eight lines (some 130 words) and can be about an EU topic or a fictional topic. The question usually is:

  • Which answer can most likely be derived from the text?

This is not a test about general knowledge. The questions in the verbal reasoning test are designed to test whether you can use logic to identify the most appropriate or most plausible answer. Only one of the given answers is correct.

The following analytical approaches may help you to decide whether (or not) the statements are consistent with the content of the text:

  • The principle of agreement
    You can put the concerned text passage alongside the answers. This allows you to check whether locations, quantities, definitions or terms are consistent.
  • Distinguishing between 'the general' and 'the specific'
    You will have to be particularly careful about certain phrases, especially between phrases which include the distinction between ‘the general’ and ‘the specific’. Do not be fooled into believing that a word which describes one unique occasion could describe a general situation or that a 'part' of something might stand for the 'whole' thing.
  • Sequence of events (chronology)
    Pay particular attention to a sequence of events. Questions are easily answered if you can identify and reduce the answer to units (events, locations, activities, etc.) that clearly relate to portions of the text and can then easily be verified or falsified using the principle of agreement.
  • Causal relationships (cause and effect)
    Causality means an assumed relation of two temporally close events: A leads to B. Thus, it means that there is an objective and the corresponding means to pursue it. In order to achieve B, the Commission does A. It is important to identify which is the cause and which is the effect. Does A follow B or does B follow A? Typical questions include: Why did the Commission do this? What was the purpose or the aim of the measure? What is the consequence of the result?

How to answer verbal reasoning questions?

There are various ways to approach these questions and it depends on your own learning preferences which is the best method for you. If you have a photographic memory, you can read the text first and then answer all the questions from your memory. You will have to do this under the pressure of time, however, and this requires a great deal of concentration. You have to bring the following cognitive steps into an order.