The Watson Glaser Test is a common test given to applicants when law firms try to narrow down their choices.
The test is split into 5 sections designed to assess how applicants can recognise assumptions, evaluate arguments and draw conclusions from a piece of text. The test usually takes 30-50 minutes and you are able to go back and forward between questions and sections as you please.
With the right technique and familiarity, it is often possible to complete the test in a shorter amount of time.
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The arguments section gives a statement, in the form of a question with an argument. You, as the applicant, must decide whether the argument is a strong or a weak one. It is easy to misinterpret these arguments as either strong or weak, if you personally agree or disagree with them.
A strong argument will address the initial statement in some form, this shows that the argument is directly related to the statement and will be relevant. A strong argument will also provide a clear reason for its stance, that argues the original statement (not a similar statement, as this would be weak). If the argument does not fill this criteria it can be considered weak.
Common mistakes that weak arguments make are: arguing separate points not directly related to the statement, does not provide an advantage/disadvantage of the statements proposition, does not state links between cause and effect, merely gives a fact without relating it to the statement.
The assumptions section gives another short statement and an assumption. The task is to identify whether the statement has made this assumption.
An easy way to tell whether the assumption has been made or not is to see if the contrary can be true in the statement. For example, if our statement was “melons and bananas differ in many ways. For starters, all bananas are yellow”, and our assumption was that “melons cannot be yellow”. This assumption has not been made as only some melons being yellow is a possibility in the statement, because only some melons need not be yellow for the statement to remain true.
The deduction section gives a statement and a separate conclusion and it must be decided whether the conclusion follows from the statement. Conclusions will relate to the statement, but can have a trigger word that makes it subtly different. Words like ‘some’, or ‘all’ in either the statement or conclusion can give away the answer. If the statement says, “some of A enjoyed B” but the conclusion is “all of A enjoy B” it is different enough to not follow, as we know that some of A did not enjoy B.
Keeping an eye out for these points makes it easier to have a more certain answer. A similar trick is to give a statistic in two different forms: 20% and 1/5. These are identical values and can be misinterpreted as two different statistics in the heat of the moment, meaning the applicant believes the conclusion does not follow when it did. Sometimes it is also easier to eliminate nouns and treat the statement as algebra, as follows:
All the employees must have a level 2 qualification to be a trainer.
All trainers are required to pass a personality review
A must have B to=C
C must have D
If our conclusion was “all employees with a level 2 qualification can be a trainer” simply reading the first line could cause us to miss valuable data.
Always read the full statement. The ‘wordiness’ can also make it harder to process. But in algebra, we can see that while A might have B, it also needs D to = C, so just having B is not sufficient to be C and the conclusion doesn’t follow. Another section, with a paragraph rather than a statement, is essentially identical to this and can be treated as the same.
The inference section is a more complicated True/False task. In this section, the text is longer and if pressed for time can be skimmed for the information we are looking for alone. True statements must be written at some point in the text to prove they are true, avoid clicking true because you know the fact to be true yourself.
Probably true statements are those that can be inferred from the text to be true, but are not directly written in it. They are more likely to be true given what the text has said. These statements will often not give specifics and will use words like ‘such as’ and ‘suggest’. This prevents them from being more data needed answers.
As a loose rule, if you can argue it to be true or false equally based on the text then it is considered as ‘more data needed’. False and probably false are simply the opposite of true and probably true. It is wise to save the most time for this section as skipping parts of the text can make us miss a sentence that is key, it is not uncommon for the text to have two sentences (perhaps at the start and at the end, just to be a pain) that both are needed to prove the statement as true or false.
By practicing the Watson Glaser Test it can be easier to pick up on common tricks that are used, as they tend to be recycled each time. Familiarity is your strongest ally when passing the test.
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