Aptitude Tests


Verbal reasoning or psychometric tests are a form of aptitude tests used by law firms and legal in-house departments to find out how well a candidate can assess verbal logic. 

Why do law firms use them?

Firms use psychometric tests as part of their applications as they introduce a new means of assessing candidates and deciding whether to proceed with further stages of the application process. With law becoming more and more competitive, it is unlikely that firms can interview every candidate for a trainee position. Psychometric tests can provide a fair and logical way of deciding who to invite to an interview.

Preparing for your psychometric tests

It is hard to crack on with revision for any psychometric test, but there are a few ways of preparing yourself. You should find out which company is publishing the test you will be completing: the publishers often have example questions online. Attempt some of these – it will give you a sense of what format to expect.

It’s also good to be aware of any time limits. Will you complete the test at the interview or assessment day, or will it be an online test carried out at home? If it’s the former, make sure you’ve investigated the tests in advance and attempted some practice questions.

If you’re completing psychometric tests online, firstly you should see if the firm has given you a deadline to complete them by. When you actually log in to complete the test, make sure you do so at an appropriate time when you can commit to it properly, with no distractions or technical difficulties!

Common tests used by firms

Verbal Reasoning Tests 

Verbal reasoning tests assess your ability to understand and comprehend written passages. They are designed to measure your verbal comprehension, reasoning and logic, all through your understanding of language.

Verbal reasoning tests usually take the form of a written passage followed by a series of questions with possible True, False or Cannot Say responses. It is important you know and appreciate the meaning of each response if you are to score highly:

  • True – The statement follows logically given the information contained within the passage

  • False – The statement cannot logically follow given the information contained within the passage

  • Cannot Say – It is not possible to determine given the information contained within the passage alone; i.e. more information would be required to say for certain

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Situational Judgement Tests

Situational judgement tests are psychological tests that assess your judgement in resolving work-based problems. 

Situational judgement tests present candidates with a range of different situations that they might experience in the job for which they are applying. For each situation, a number of possible actions are suggested. There are usually around 4 or 5 actions, but this varies. It is the candidate’s job to choose between these possible options and judge which is the most effective course of action to take and therefore which action they would take if faced with this situation. SJTs are always multiple-choice; no answers other than the options listed are allowed.

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Watson Glaser Tests

By far the most common type of critical thinking test is the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal.

Watson Glaser tests are often used by law firms to assess a candidate’s ability to critically consider arguments. There are five types of question, each tests a different aspect of critical thinking (inferences, assumptions, deductions, interpretations and evaluation of arguments). 

The Watson Glaser Test measures the critical skills that are necessary for presenting a certain point of view in a clear, structured, well-reasoned way and convincing others of your argument. The test questions are looking at the individual’s ability to:

1. Make correct inferences

In this section, candidates will be provided with a passage of information on a scenario. A subsequent list of possible inferences will follow, and candidates will be asked to rate if they are true, false, possibly true, possibly false or whether it is not possible to say based on the information in the passage.

2. To recognise assumptions

In these questions, a statement will be presented, and the candidate will have to decide if an assumption has been made in making the statement. Statements are given for the individual to read and they are then followed by several proposed assumptions. The candidate has to select whether an assumption has or has not been made.

3. To make deductions

Candidates will be provided with a passage of information and candidates will need to evaluate a list of deductions made based on that passage. If one cannot deduce a particular statement from the passage, then that deduction does not follow, and the candidate must select which deductions follow and which do not follow.

4. To come to conclusions

A paragraph of information will be provided to the candidate, with a list of possible conclusions. Candidates will need to interpret the information in the paragraph and decide if each conclusion follows based on the presented information.

5. To interpret and evaluate arguments

Candidates will be provided with a given scenario. They are subsequently provided with a list of arguments for or against the scenario presented. The candidate will need to assess if each argument is strong or weak, based on how relevant it is and how well it addresses the question. The argument is considered to be strong if it directly relates to the question or statement, and weak if it is not directly related to the question or statement.

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Tips for success

These five tips are well worth remembering before you take an aptitude test for real:

1. Treat the test like you would any other exam

2. Work swiftly and accurately through any test

3. Work out the maximum time you can spend on any question and stick to it religiously. You can return to questions at the end. Never get stuck on any particular question, even if you think you nearly have it

4. If you are going to an assessment centre, take a calculator you understand with you. If you do not, you will be forced to use whatever they might provide you with.

5. Answer as many questions as possible in the time given. But be wary of negative marking.


Hannah Roleston is a final year law student at the University of Dundee. During her time at university she is an active member of the University of Dundee Mooting Society and spends her free time playing hockey. Hannah is an aspiring solicitor with a passion for Commercial Awareness.

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