Verbal reasoning refers to how a person works with words to get their full meaning. A good aptitude in this area is demonstrated by being able to draw reasonable conclusions from sentences and paragraphs. Often included on intelligent quotient (IQ) tests, verbal reasoning is also expected in some employment situations to accurately assess and interpret written information.
For example, a medical professional reading a chart with a patient's symptoms and/or lab test results can't simply jump to a conclusion about whether or not he or she has a certain condition or disease. All of the information must be analyzed, and any missing information must be taken into account. One way in which verbal reasoning tests help measure the test taker's ability in determining the best logical possibility is to have him or her supply the missing word. For instance, a question such as "kick is to feet as wave is to ______" could have word choices from which to choose such as finger, fingers, hand, hands, arm or arms.
The correct answer to the above, based on logical reasoning, is "hands" since they are the closet match for waving as feet are to kicking. "Hand" would be incorrect since it's the singular choice that would be a match with "foot," not the plural "feet." "Fingers" are only part of the hand and would match "toes," while the choice "arms" logically corresponds to "legs."
Reading comprehension and critical thinking are both necessary in reasoning verbally. In order to get an accurate response to a verbal reasoning test question, the reader must understand not only the main meaning of the sentence, but also the details. This type of reasoning shouldn't be confused with verbal ability in general, which is also tested in IQ and vocational capacities.
In addition to reading comprehension and reasoning, general verbal ability testing also includes the mechanics of language. Proper sentence structure, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar are tested. For example, the test taker may be given a paragraph of text not to analyze and interpret the meaning, but rather to add the correct punctuation. Another common method used in this type of testing is to list different variations of how a word can appear to have the test taker choose the correct spelling. Verbal ability test takers may also have to write sentences or paragraphs to show their use of language mechanics such as grammar, spelling, punctuation and vocabulary, although they may also have to do this in combination with a question designed for testing reading comprehension.