Law Firm Assessment Centres: Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Tests

This guide tells you how to do well in the Watson Glaser critical thinking test when applying for training contracts and vacation schemes.

It also includes sample questions and answers that reflect typical scenarios and the different skills required.

Critical thinking skills are now assessed by more and more law firms as part of their graduate recruitment process. These skills are extremely important for achieving success as a trainee solicitor and as a qualified lawyer.

What is the Watson Glaser test?

Law firms want to discover your strengths and potential in critical thinking skills. They’re looking for indicators of how you analyse and evaluate options objectively.

The Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (to give it its full name) helps law firms to recognise your abilities to reason with fact versus assumption as well as to analyse situations from multiple perspectives.

Sometimes, it is used to filter out training contract and vacation scheme candidates between the application form stage and the interview/assessment centre stage. At other times it can form part of the assessment centre itself.

The test takes around 30-60 minutes, depending on the number of questions set, usually between 40 to 80.

The Watson Glaser test is specifically designed to measure critical thinking in 5 areas of understanding:

1: To make correct inferences
2: Recognition of assumptions
3: To make deductions
4: To interpret and make conclusions
5: Evaluation of arguments

You will be presented with short statements of text and you will have to decide if the assumptions that follow can be made.

You will have to choose from one of the two answers given apart from the Inferences section (where you will have to choose from five multiple-choice options).

Which law firms use the Watson Glaser test?

It’s currently the most widely used critical thinking appraisal used by law firms and your performance in the test will contribute to the overall selection and decisions made by each law firm.

Here you’ll find some recognisable law firms and institutions who use the Watson Glaser test with links to more information on their career application and assessment process:

Other law firms that use the Watson Glaser test:

  • Allen & Overy
  • Baker & McKenzie
  • Bates Wells
  • Burges Salmon
  • DLA Piper
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  • HFW
  • Hill Dickinson
  • Ince & Co
  • Irwin Mitchell
  • Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Osborne Clarke
  • Simmons & Simmons
  • TLT Solicitors
  • Weil Gotshal & Manges

How do I pass the Watson Glaser test?

An overall pass score in excess of 75% is a typical benchmark pass boundary. It can be slightly higher or lower, depending on the average of candidates’ results.

Not completing the full test doesn’t mean an automatic fail, but is not advisable. By completing the test you give yourself the best chance of showing your potential employer your breadth of understanding across each section of the test.

We’ve set out some practical steps, to enable you to prepare for the Watson Glaser test and then successfully pass it.

Practice

As with all psychometric tests, it is possible to greatly improve your score by practicing – and you can be sure the most determined of your fellow training contract competitors will be doing so.

There is a free shortened version of the Watson Glaser test on the Hogan Lovells website 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

Most of the test scenarios set out in our sample questions below, give you multiple-choice options to answer.

You should aim to answer all the questions in each of the timed sections. Use the stopwatch function on your phone to set timed alarms.

Making a decision requires confidence. You can increase this by practicing the sample questions on this page and in the tests linked to above.

Performance

Practice time is over. If you’ve prepared yourself in the areas we’ve outlined, you’re giving yourself the best chance of understanding how to successfully answer the questions in the time allowed.

You’ll take the test online or within an Assessment Centre. You’ll be advised of the timescale and deadline you have available to take the test.

Don’t let your own experiences influence your rationale when answering questions, stay focussed on answering the questions using the information you’re presented with.

Don’t skim read the question. Read it thoroughly, to process the context and apply relevant thinking skills to develop your answer.

Remove preconceptions from your approach to answering questions. Don’t make presumptions before answering questions. Every question requires an individual evaluation and application of logical reason, objectivity and appropriate decision-making skills.

You’re demonstrating a range of cognitive aptitudes and showing you can consider different processes to suit the information you’re given. It’s important to take the test with an open-minded approach, using a combination of thinking skills.

Before you log on to take the test, prepare your environment and yourself by making sure you’re comfortable and have removed distractions. Now you’re ready.

What if I don’t pass the WG test?

If you’re not successful in passing the Watson Glaser test, it’s important to recognise the sections you need to develop further skills and practice in. Once you’re ready, review sample questions and attempt some free critical thinking tests. By improving on lower-scoring sections, you can increase your performance when you next get an opportunity.

Sample Watson Glaser Test Questions

We’ve set out some introductory example questions for each section to help you get started.  We recommend you try a variety of practice tests with different questions, to develop your understanding of each section, to build up your knowledge of typical arguments.

Here goes with the sample questions.

1:  Making correct inferences

An inference is to draw a conclusion from observed or supposed facts.  In the WG test, you’ll be presented with a question that gives certain facts and observations.

You will be given 5 options to choose from as you analyse the true observed and supposed facts from a statement and decide which answer reflects an accurate inference of the degree of truth you conclude.

Statement:

250 university students aged between 18-24 voluntarily attended a one-day conference, after receiving a leaflet on ‘how to achieve a career in the sustainable energy sector’, at a city-centre location in Scotland.  At the conference, a talk on women working in the sustainable energy sector and another talk on professions that contribute to tackling the reduction of carbon emissions were selected by students as the most important topics covered at the conference, in their pursuit of achieving a career in the sustainable energy sector.

Inference 1:   As a group, the students who attended this conference were more interested in achieving a career in the sustainable energy sector than most other students in their late teens and early twenties.

Inference 2:  Most of the students had not discussed the conference topics in any university tutorial before the conference and were open to new career ideas.

Inference 3:  The students who attended only wanted to discuss the topic of reducing carbon emissions.

Inference 4:  Some students felt it was worthwhile to include a session for women wanting to work in the sustainable energy sector.

Inference 5:  The students all came from the same university, that offers the only degree course in the UK specialising in supporting women to develop a career in the sustainable energy sector.

Answer options:

  • TRUE
  • PROBABLY TRUE
  • MORE INFORMATION REQUIRED
  • PROBABLY FALSE
  • FALSE

Explanations:

TRUE:  Aligns to inference 1

It is stated in the text that some students who attended the conference selected the 2 talks as being the most important topics to them, in their pursuit of achieving a career goal to work in the sustainable energy sector and taking the opportunity to attend the conference.

PROBABLY TRUE:  Aligns to inference 2

It is likely that some students attending the conference had explored their career ideas more than others and already knew these topics were important to them.  Other attendees attended to find out more information about careers in the sustainable energy sector.  We cannot be sure that the two topics selected were already as important to wider attendees, although it could be suggested as likely, as they attended voluntarily and received some prior information from the leaflet.

MORE INFORMATION REQUIRED / INSUFFICIENT DATA:  Aligns to inference 5

The text doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of the attendees, apart from their age.  It is not known how many attendees identified as female or male, where they normally reside, which educational establishments they attend.  The percentage of importance of the topics hasn’t been measured in any other way other than being stated as ‘most important’.  There is no further data available in the text to be able to analyse.

PROBABLY FALSE:  Aligns to inference 3

It is not known if the two talks highlighted were the only options for the students to attend, or if they believed other topics about achieving a career in the sustainable energy sector were as important to them, but not covered at the conference.

FALSE:  Aligns to inference 4

The text doesn’t mention any other information about the conference and what other topics were included.  The text doesn’t include any data on what percentage of the 250 attendees contributed to the selection of which topics were most important to them.

2:  Recognition of assumptions

We all make assumptions when we presuppose something or take it for granted.  In the WG test, you’ll analyse a statement and decide where proposed assumptions have been made in the statement and your decision is justifiable.

Statement:

‘My neighbour uses public transport; therefore they can’t drive.

Answer options:

In the following options, underline your decisions of where there is:

  • Assumption made
  • Assumption not made

1:  The neighbour always takes the bus to work.  Assumption made by the person making the statement that the neighbour uses public transport because they can’t drive.

2:  They live in a street that doesn’t have any parking places immediately outside or nearby.  Assumption made by the person making the statement, who has not seen a car belonging to their neighbour parked outside or nearby.  They assume they do not own a car and therefore take it for granted they can’t drive.

3:  The neighbour has chosen not to own a car while living in London.  They have decided to only use public transport to commute to work, as it is more cost-effective and have calculated the cost of running a car would be expensive in their area of London,  Assumption not made by the person making the statement, who hasn’t considered any individual reasons or informed decisions the neighbour has taken in choosing not to own a car while living in London.

3:  Making deductions

You’ll be asked to read a statement and provide a judgement, that is true without exception, on whether the suggested conclusion necessarily follows from the premise.  It’s important to make your decision without the influence of your personal judgement.

You must mark CONCLUSION FOLLOWS within the option at the place you judge the conclusion to necessarily follow the premise.

You must mark CONCLUSION DOES NOT FOLLOW within the option at the place you judge the conclusion does not necessarily follow the premise.

The word some refers to an indefinite part, portion, or quantity.

‘In 2016, a survey indicated that people under the age of 30 living in London did not have trust in the government.  The top two reasons given by people surveyed were first, they did not believe there was enough government support to help purchase a first-time property and secondly, they judged the government to be out of touch with issues and needs for people under the age of 30.’

  • Conclusion option 1: All people under the age of 30 will always believe they’re not being supported enough by the government.
    • Correct judgement: CONCLUSION DOES NOT FOLLOW

We cannot conclude that all people under the age of 30 will always believe they’re not being supported enough by the government based on the government at the time the survey was taken.  It cannot be necessarily extended to all people under the age of 30 and who make up a diverse set of the population.

  • Conclusion option 2: Every government is out of touch with people under the age of 30.
    • Correct judgement: CONCLUSION DOES NOT FOLLOW

We cannot conclude that every government is out of touch with people under the age of 30 on the basis of the issues being asked in the survey, as it is likely that relevant services, policies and campaigns exist for people within this age range.

  • Conclusion option 3: Surveys produce different sets of views and issues based on the questions being asked and people being surveyed.
    • Correct judgement: CONCLUSION FOLLOWS

Since the survey was undertaken in 2016, there could have been changes to housing strategies, and new financial initiatives introduced, or a change of government and other new policies to address issues that affect people under the age of 30, which could produce different results if the survey was taken again at this current time. 

4:  To interpret and make conclusions

This section asks you to assume that everything in the statement you are reading is true.  You’ll be asked to decide on a judgement that is true beyond reasonable doubt, on whether the suggested conclusion necessarily follows from the premise.  It’s important to make your decision without influence of your personal judgement.

You must mark CONCLUSION FOLLOWS within the option at the place you judge the conclusion to necessarily follow the premise.

You must mark CONCLUSION DOES NOT FOLLOW within the option at the place you judge the conclusion does not necessarily follow the premise.

‘The Tate Modern art gallery in London holds the largest collection of art produced in the 20th century located in the United Kingdom’. 

  • Conclusion option 1: There could be a larger collection of privately owned 20th century modern art located within the United Kingdom.
    • Correct judgement: CONCLUSION FOLLOWS

The statement notes that the Tate Modern has the largest collection of art produced in the 20th century located within a publicly funded art gallery within the United Kingdom, however, it is possible and beyond reasonable doubt that a larger collection from this period could be owned privately, within the United Kingdom.

  • Conclusion option 2: There could be a larger collection of 20th century publicly owned art in the United Kingdom
    • Correct judgement: CONCLUSION DOES NOT FOLLOW

The statement notes that the Tate Modern has the largest collection of art produced in the 20th century located within a publicly funded art gallery within the United Kingdom.  Therefore, it is not possible and not beyond reasonable doubt that there is a larger collection from the 20th century within a publicly owned art gallery in the United Kingdom.  

5:  Evaluation of arguments

Developing decision-making skills between arguments that are strong or weak are important to distinguish when evaluating a question concerning the issue at hand.

  • A strong argument directly relates to the question presented and is important.
  • A weak argument does not directly relate to the question, is not of significant importance, is a trivial aspect of the question and confuses correlation with causation, to make an incorrect assumption that two aspects are connected and cause each other to happen.

You will be presented with a question and several arguments, which in this test scenario, you should accept as true.

  • If you think the argument is strong, mark your decision within the answer as:
    • ARGUMENT STRONG
  • If you think the argument is weak, mark your decision within the answer as:
    • ARGUMENT WEAK

Make your decision based on each option presented and don’t let personal views influence your evaluation of the question and argument.

Question:  Should Higher Education level academic qualifications be offered free to every student in the United Kingdom?

Argument 1:  Yes, by offering access to free higher education level academic qualifications to every student in the United Kingdom, this would enable people who are deemed to come from a low-income household to access a level of qualification that they would not typically be able to afford and this would improve their long term earning potential, with a HE level academic qualification.

STRONG ARGUMENT or WEAK ARGUMENT

  • STRONG ARGUMENT: If the argument is taken as true, there are benefits presented that have been evaluated as having importance directly related to the question and is a strong argument.

Argument 2:  No, offering free Higher Education level academic qualifications to every student could result in having too many academic graduates across the workforce in the United Kingdom.

STRONG ARGUMENT or WEAK ARGUMENT

  • WEAK ARGUMENT: The argument only focuses on the potential increase in the number of academic graduates and does not discuss the argument fully to evaluate further advantages or disadvantages, therefore it is a weak argument.

Argument 3:  Yes, it could be beneficial for every student to have a Higher Education academic qualification as this could result in an increased number of graduates with subject knowledge expertise who could contribute to future research, education and innovation in the United Kingdom.

STRONG ARGUMENT or WEAK ARGUMENT

  • STRONG ARGUMENT: If taken to be true, the argument presents aspects that are directly related to the question and it is noted there could be benefits that will occur as a direct result of the offer of free higher education level academic qualifications.

 

Find Watson Glaser Test sample questions and full-length practice tests here: Watson Glaser Full-Length Practice Tests

Matt Oliver

Matt is a former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer, an experienced legal career coach and MD of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. He provides entry level law careers advice to students and graduates through his writing and mentoring. He also offers private one to one coaching to those struggling with training contract, vacation scheme or paralegal applications and interviews. Find out more about Matt's 1-2-1 Coaching >>>>

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.