The Watson Glaser is a critical thinking test used by a number of law firms during the application process, including Clifford Chance. Read on for tailored advice on how to succeed in their version.

What Is A Watson Glaser Test?

The Watson Glaser is the most common type of critical thinking test used in law firm recruitment (specifically for vacation scheme and training contract applications). Other forms of tests do exist (most notably situational judgement tests or SJTs, which also require tailored preparation), but critical thinking tests are the most common (and Watson Glaser is the most prevalent type of critical thinking test currently around).

These tests are designed to test your ability to think critically – that is, to analyse and evaluate information before arriving at a logical conclusion. They are not tests of content knowledge (and therefore memory) like most school or university exams, so you may not be particularly familiar with them at this stage. That is not a problem – read on to learn more about how you can excel in this exam format.

Watson Glaser Test Format

For Clifford Chance, you will be sent a link after submitting your application form (usually within 48 hours) which invites you to complete a Watson Glaser online (from your own computer at home). You will usually be given around a week to complete the test – read the invitation email carefully for details. If successful at this stage, you will be invited to an assessment day (generally a series of interviews).

The test itself is made up of 40 multiple-choice questions split across 5 individual test sections – drawing inferences, recognising assumptions, making accurate deductions, interpreting information, and evaluating arguments. It is worth noting that you will rarely sit a Watson Glaser where there are 8 questions in each section – each firm usually weights each section differently, and so some may contain 15 inference questions but only 2 assumption questions, for example. Clifford Chance’s split is not possible to predict, as it can change from year to year, but you should prepare for them all equally – just don’t be thrown off in the exam if you see an uneven number in each section.

A timer of 30 minutes will start when you begin the test, and you can usually go back and forth to change your answers throughout the process.

When the time is up, your test will automatically end and your answers will be sent to Clifford Chance. 

In past application cycles, the firm has actually been known to send its applicants a PDF summary of their performance in the Watson Glaser (extremely rare amongst other firms). This document contains information such as the percentile of your score (how well you performed compared to the average applicant) and your strengths and weaknesses in different sections.

Even if you do not secure or accept a training contract or vacation scheme with Clifford Chance, this can be an incredibly useful way to gauge your progress in Watson Glaser preparation. It’s also an opportunity for you to target your weaker points to improve upon in applications to other firms in the future.

How to Score Highly


The main factor in being able to achieve top marks in the Watson Glaser is choosing to prepare well. At first this might seem like a strange statement, since critical thinking tests contain no studied content, and so you can’t ‘revise’ in the traditional sense, although it’s always worth doing practise tests like those available here. What you can do, however, is to familiarise yourself with the 5 question types (‘sections’) and what you are being asked to do in each.

Our guide to answering all 5 sections successfully is a great place to start, but let’s go through a brief overview here:

  1. Inferenceyou are provided with a short passage, a proposed inference and answer options (true, probably true, insufficient data, probably false or false). The ‘probably’ answers should be used when common knowledge tells you it is logical, but there is no certainty e.g. hard statistics to back this up. ‘Insufficient Data’ should be used when the proposed inference appears irrelevant to the passage.
  2. Recognising Assumptions – you are provided with a short statement, a proposed assumption and answer options (assumption made or assumption not made). You must assume all information given is correct (something which can be easily overlooked). ‘Assumption made’ means that the answer was there in the first place; ‘Assumption not made’ implies a slight jump in logic, or the addition of some own thought.
  3. Deduction – you are provided with a statement, a possible conclusion and answer options (conclusion follows or conclusion does not follow). You need to ask yourself if the conclusion is definitely true based only on the information given in the statement (again, no external knowledge or thought should be used).
  4. Interpretation – you are provided with a statement, a possible conclusion and answer options (conclusion follows or conclusion does not follow). This is very similar to deduction in its format, but the key difference (where many applicants will lose marks) is that you are now being asked if the conclusion is likely true (rather than definitely true).
  5. Evaluation of Arguments – you are provided with a question, an argument and answer options (strong argument or weak argument). You essentially take on the role of an examiner yourself here. You have to assume that the information in the answer being given is all true – the conundrum is whether the answer given is relevant and a solid answer to the question (or not).

Once you have grasped the idea of each section, you should attempt some online practice tests to apply your knowledge in timed scenarios.The ones offered by Job Test Prep are among the most realistic.

Read The Questions Carefully

The devil is in the detail when it comes to critical thinking tests – small differences in wording (e.g. ‘should’ versus ‘must’) are very likely to unlock the correct answer. In order to pick up on this, you need to read all of the questions very carefully. While difficult in such an intensely time-pressured setting, this point cannot be overlooked.


Each question is worth the same number of marks. As with all exams, you need to be conscious of that fact when deciding to move on. If one question has you particularly stumped, avoid the temptation to spend 5 minutes thinking about it. Instead, move on and complete the, say, three or four following questions which you can easily answer. Being tactical about needing to answer 40 questions in 30 minutes is a must.


For this period of 30 minutes, you need total focus. Ensure that you are on a reliable device with a strong WiFi connection in a quiet space. If this is difficult at home, you could go to a public library or a space in your educational institution.

What Score Do I Need to Pass?

The score needed to pass varies between each firm (and likely each year), plus no firm has ever been known to publicly state the scores they require to pass a candidate through to the next round of the application process. Many firms also approve or reject candidates based on percentile (how well you performed compared to other applicants) rather than raw marks. As a result, focusing on a very particular mark to reach in your practice tests is difficult – you cannot know how other candidates are likely to perform.

To give a rough estimate sourced more from anecdotal evidence between applicants, however, it is likely that you will want to secure at least 70% of the marks on offer to appear competitive at a highly over-subscribed City firm like Clifford Chance.


Discover Clifford Chance

Learn more about Clifford Chance from our featured firms list.

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About Clifford Chance

If you are completing a Watson Glaser test for Clifford Chance, you will have submitted an application form already. However, it is worth expanding upon your knowledge of the firm. 

Clifford Chance are a Magic Circle law firm (the five most prestigious London-based law firms with the highest profitability in the city), and also the largest law firm based in the UK by revenue. It is truly international, with 34 offices across 23 countries, over 3,000 lawyers, and particular strength in financial areas such as banking, M&A and private equity.

Clifford Chance Application Process

Clifford Chance consider your Watson Glaser score alongside your written application form to decide whether to invite you to interview. It is therefore imperative that you achieve a strong result if you are hoping to move on to the next stage.

Key Takeaways

In short, much of your success in the Clifford Chance Watson Glaser test will likely stem from preparation you should have done for critical thinking tests. Understanding the requirements of each section and putting these into practice with mock tests are the best way to improve your score. It is also worth understanding, of course, how Clifford Chance in particular use these tests within their application process.


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