“The exam scores we get are but just one picture of our ability. The score is not me.”

― Greg Gutfeld.

There are few other phrases in the English language which seem to strike fear into the hearts of aspiring lawyers than the dreaded ‘Watson-Glaser test’. During my own application cycles, this psychometric test was often my Achilles heel in preventing me from moving forward and progressing on to latter stages.

An overview of what the Watson-Glaser test is all about!

In this article, I’ll be sharing 5 key tips to keep in mind to hopefully help you increase your pass rate!

Focus On What’s In Front Of You

Unlike most other exams, you won’t require a great deal of ‘outside’ specialist or expert knowledge in order to score well in this exam. Instead, the primary emphasis of the Watson-Glaser is to test your ability to understand, analyse and infer from passages and arguments that are being presented to you.

It can be tempting to try and second-guess a passage or question based on your own prior knowledge, opinions and experience. Don’t do it! Only use the information that has been given to you in order to try and derive a solution to the problem.

Manage Your Time Carefully

Each question you’ll face on the Watson-Glaser test often involve reference to densely packed passages and statements. Usually, you’ll be expected to answer several questions in reference to the same passage, meaning that you can spend more time on some ‘groupings’ in comparison to others. Before commencing the exam, understand how many questions you’ll be asked, the time allotted and the distribution of marks, so that you can ration your time accordingly.

Identify Keywords

In a given passage, it is likely that you’ll find words that will vary your answer to a question based on whether or not an argument is referring to it. For example, they include:

  • ‘Depending on’
  • ‘Subject to’
  • Double negatives
  • ‘Assuming that’
  • ‘All’ vs. ‘most’ vs. ‘some’ vs. ‘none’ as quantifiers of a given group/sub-set

Read over sentences carefully to try and spot phrases such as these. Using venn diagrams, logic trees and other visual aids can be a good way of making some sense of complex combinations of these phrases. Remember – every word has been written into the passage given to you for a reason and will likely play a significant role in affecting what answers are considered ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.

Practice Makes Perfect

Like any other exam, test runs and mocks are some of the best ways to squeeze in some practice before the real thing rolls around. Making the most of practice tests is a great way to familiarise yourself with the test’s structure, timing and question format. They can also act as a helpful diagnostics test run to see where your current strengths and weaknesses lie, in order to give you a more tailored approach to your learning going forward.

…So Long As You Have The Time!

If you’re successful in getting through to the Watson-Glaser stage of an application, it is highly likely that the recruiter will give you a small window – usually around 2-3 days – to logon and complete the test. That window of time is simply not long enough to properly understand what the test involves, so make sure that you’ve had at least one round of practice tests before you begin sending off written applications.

I hope the above tips help you with this tricky stage of the application process. Be sure to check out the ‘More From Law’ podcast to hear from recruiters and Watson-Glaser test psychologists directly about their thoughts on passing it, as well as for more helpful application tips.

Good luck!

Many thanks to JobTestPrep for collaborating on and sponsoring this article.

The Legal Stuff: This article contains only personal views and does not reflect the views or opinions of Baker McKenzie, or any other member firm of Baker McKenzie. The comments made and views expressed in this article are intended for information purposes only, and nothing in this article is to be considered as creating an attorney-client relationship or indeed any contractual relationship or as rendering legal or professional advice for any specific matter, whether under English law, the laws of any other country, or otherwise. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel. This article is otherwise published subject to the following disclaimers.

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