Guide to Personality and Aptitude tests: How to succeed in your Watson Glaser test!

Recruitment can be stressful but there’s no reason to worry – you can prepare for anything with a bit of time and the right resources at hand! King’s Careers Consultant Caroline Lindner shares resources and useful tips for nailing your psychometric assessments in the legal sector.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Testing, testing, 1,2,3

In recent years, more employers have embraced psychometric testing to find the best candidate for the job.  The legal sector is no exception, and many firms including tests as part of their assessment and selection processes for graduate apprenticeships, vacation schemes and training contracts.  It can feel like testing is everywhere!

The  Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test, which we will cover in this blog, is the most commonly used test within the legal sector but there may be others.  However, with Dickson Poon graduates successfully forging careers in other sectors which also use psychometric testing (Banking & Finance, Government to name but two), it is important to be proactive and prepare as you will probably have to sit a test at some point.


What is psychometric testing?  And why do employers use them?

Psychometric tests are used by employers to measure the ability, aptitude, and personality of candidates.  They are characterised by using a standardised format and they are always administered, scored, and marked in the same way, and usually sat under timed conditions.

The choice of test will depend on what attributes and abilities the employer wants to gain evidence of.  These should be directly linked to the role.  Tests are viewed as objective indicators of job performance, and your score may be used to determine whether you move to the next stage of the assessment process.  Or you may sit the test as part of an assessment centre and your score will be considered alongside your application form/CV, interview, and any group, written or case study exercises.


But what if I always do badly on psychometric tests? What can I do?

Typically, graduate recruiters with large numbers of vacancies attract high volumes of applications, and testing is, therefore, an important part of their selection processes.  However, whilst we know that more law firms use tests these days, there are plenty that do not. If taking psychometric tests are a real concern to you, you have the choice to focus your job search elsewhere with different recruiting methods.

However, in our experience, you will have already sat tests at school (remember the LNAT?) and you have every potential to do well in psychometric tests too. It’s likely that these will come up when you apply for future jobs or as part of your career development.  So, it is best to get used to them and use the resources available to practice and build your confidence!


What is the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test?

Watson Glaser assesses a candidate’s critical thinking skills, a key skill for a lawyer.  It tests inference, deduction, interpretation, recognition of assumption and evaluation of arguments.  Watson Glaser is timed, and you are expected to finish it, so it also tests speed and accuracy.  You can read more about the test on Prospects, and you should be given some information by the employer as well.


Our top tips – for aptitude and ability tests

  1. Practice can help! As a King’s student, you have access to many free tests through our subscription to Graduates First – just register with your King’s email to access tests, including Watson Glaser
  2. Familiarising yourself with test conditions and different types of test format can dramatically improve your technique and develop your confidence.
  3. If you need reasonable adjustments because of a disability (e.g., enlarged type, extra time) make sure you inform the tester well beforehand. Inform the tester if English is not your first language, as, depending on the nature of the job, the employer may use special comparison tables to assess your performance more accurately.
  4. Avoid spending too long on any one question instead move on. However, check in the examples session whether you will be able to go back or only forwards from question to question.  During practice sessions, you should try and establish a good balance between speed and accuracy.


Remember that the selection decisions are usually based on several sources of information of which the test (or section) is only one part. Different recruiters will look for different scores on the test.  It is also important to spend time researching employers and preparing fewer, targeted high-quality applications.  The Careers & Employability team can provide guidance with every step of the way.


Further resources


There are numerous FREE online resources to practice psychometric assessment skills.  Some examples include: