In this post, I outline how to prepare for, and practice, training contract and vacation scheme assessment centre tests & exercises.
So you’ve gone through the hard slog of applications and you’ve made it through to the next stage. Awaiting you is the firm’s assessment centre and you’re wondering what to expect.
Assessment centres (or assessment days) usually consist of a mixture of tests, exercises and face to face interviews.
Whilst there is lots written about how to prepare for interviews, there is less help available for those wanting to understand and practice the tests and exercises they might encounter.
This post is designed to provide that help.
Types of Tests
The most common law firm assessment centre aptitude tests are:
- Situational Judgment Test
- Critical/Logical Thinking Test (Watson Glaser)
- Verbal Reasoning Test
- Numerical Reasoning Test
- Personality Test
Types of Exercises
The most common law firm assessment centre exercises are:
- Group exercises
- Case Study Exercises
- Drafting exercises
- Intray Exercises
- Presentation Exercises
In advance of any upcoming assessment centre you should confirm with the firm what it will include so that you can prepare for, and practice, any tests and exercises you will have to undertake.
Given how extremely competitive it currently is to secure a training contract it is imperative that you have thought through, and practised, as many of these tests and exercises as possible.
It is certain that many of the people who you are competing with for those training contracts will have spent plenty of time practising these tests. You do not, therefore, want to commence the assessment centre at a disadvantage because you have not done the same.
Practice Makes Perfect
There follows our guide to practising these tests and exercises, together with some links to some free sample tests for you to try.
Situational Judgment Test
One of the best-known providers of SJT’s is SHL and you can find free sample SJT questions at their website here: SHL Direct
To take a free 20-minute practice test, together with feedback and tips, check out this sample test: Sample SJT
Critical/Logical Thinking Test
Many law firms favour the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test so this is an important test to understand and to practice.
There is a free shortened version of this test on the Hogan Lovells website along the following lines:
You can access the Hogan Lovells practice test here: Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test
You can also access some Watson Glaser Test sample questions and full-length practice tests here: Watson Glaser Full-Length Practice Tests
Verbal Reasoning Test
Again, most law firms will have some form of verbal reasoning test (which is actually a written test) as part of their assessment centre, or another part of their application process.
You can practice verbal reasoning tests and receive further guidance to help you prepare here: Practice Verbal Reasoning Tests
Numerical Reasoning Test
Whilst numerical reasoning tests are more commonplace for accountancy and other professions, some law firms do include them in their assessment centres.
You can practice numerical reasoning tests and receive full feedback to help you prepare here: Practice Numerical Reasoning Tests
Some firms still favour the personality test as a way of filtering out those who have the character traits the firm is looking for.
You can take a free psychometric personality test here: Sample Personality Test
When it comes to assessment centre exercises it can be more difficult to practice these than the tests.
Some of the exercises are necessarily group exercises and therefore hard to replicate at home on your own. Whilst other exercises can take the form of either group or individual exercises.
The exercises that can be practised on your own, and which can also benefit you when you have to tackle a group exercise at the assessment centre, are as follows.
Case Study Exercises
These commonly require you to analyse lots of information and documents relating to a ‘real-life’ scenario and report your recommendations.
Whilst they are not case study practice exercises from law firms specifically, you can take a look at the exercises on the McKinsey website – see here: Example Case Study Exercises.
McKinsey generally seeks to recruit the best of the best so do not be too disheartened if you find these practice exercises challenging. They represent great practice though.
There are also some practice case study exercises with guidance at JobTestPrep >>>.
Intray (or E-tray) Exercises
These are common exercises in law firm assessment centres. They try to simulate a real-life work situation of having to identify and prioritise a series of work matters into important and urgent matters.
There are also variations of these tests called E-tray Exercises which involve sorting through an email inbox. These may also include drafting a reply to one of the emails.
There are some practice in-tray exercises (with feedback given) at JobTestPrep >>>.
These usually involve being given a sensitive issue and related facts and being asked to express them in a clear, structured and tactful manner. The key is to select the key facts and arguments and present them clearly, rather than actually arriving at the right answer.
An example of a drafting exercise might be: Draft a letter to a client explaining that you are unable to waive the latest bill you have sent them, and why, in response to their request to do so.
Given that these tests and exercises can be predicted and practised, every opportunity to practice should be taken. Do not let the fact that other candidates have practised them, when you have not, be the reason for being unsuccessful.
Tests such as the Watson Glaser Test are becoming more and more popular with law firms so you must be familiar with them to stand any chance of success.
As well as the free sample tests set out in this blog post series, there are also paid practice tests produced by professional assessors and available from companies such as JobTestPrep (www.jobtestprep.co.uk).
Whilst we understand that some candidates are reluctant to pay for practice tests and exercises, we consider it a small investment in helping you fully prepare for an assessment centre and beat the competition to that lucrative training contract.
Either way, be sure to practice the tests and exercises (whether free or paid) over and over again. This will not only improve your performance on the day but it will also help you enter the assessment centre with more confidence. This will be noticed by the assessors and can only work in your favour.
For a rundown of the do’s and don’t of training contract assessment centres and expert tips for other tests and exercises see our Essential Guide to Training Contract Assessment Centres.
Learn How to Master the Watson Glaser Test
The Watson Glaser Test is a critical piece of the training contract puzzle.
Each year, more law firms use the Watson Glaser Test to filter our candidates from their recruitment processes.
It's simple, if you don't know how to pass it you won't get a job offer from them.
We teach you the nuts and bolts of this test and how best to practice it to get to the required pass level.