What is a Watson Glaser test?
Watson Glaser test is a comprehensive psychometric assessment that falls under the category of critical thinking tests. It is designed to determine how well an individual can process information from a logical perspective, and then evaluate, analyze and make sound judgments. Watson Glaser test is commonly used in the recruitment process for professions that rely on these skills.
Watson Glaser tests have been around since 1925 when they were first developed by American psychologists Goodwin Watson and Edwin Glaser. Subject to many revisions and improvements over the years, they are now produced by test publisher TalentLens and are considered one of the most trusted methods of evaluating critical reasoning.
Critical thinking is a complex skill that requires the ability to interpret information, differentiate fact from fallacy, draw evidence-based conclusions and identify sound arguments, all while remaining objective.
Like many critical thinking tests, the Watson Glaser test measures these skills through verbal information: that is, statements or passages of text from which an individual is required to make deductions and inferences, pinpoint assumptions needed to validate a proposition, and weigh up the strength of an argument.
These are inherent skills, more prominent in some than others. The Watson Glaser test, therefore, requires no prior knowledge. Success relies on existing knowledge being put to one side, the sole focus being the evidence laid out in each question.
You may be asked to sit a Watson Glaser test by the potential employer if applying for a graduate, professional or managerial level position in a sector where critical thinking is a prerequisite. Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is most commonly used in the legal sector, but also the selection process of organizations like the Bank of England.
The test may be used for screening purposes in the initial stages of the hiring process, or at a later date as part of an assessment day.
What is the format of a Watson Glaser test?
The Watson Glaser test is a timed, multiple-choice assessment, the most recent version of which consists of 40 critical reasoning questions with a 30-minute time constraint.
Questions are split across five areas of logical reasoning ability:
To draw inferences is essential to make an educated guess based on the evidence in front of you, without being swayed by any pre-existing knowledge or subconscious bias.
You’ll be presented with a short paragraph, followed by a set of inferred statements. Potential employees need to critically analyse the information in the given paragraph to determine if these statements are true, probably true, false, probably false, or if there is insufficient proof to determine either way.
Assumptions relating to what we understand to be true without needing solid proof. They are the underlying facts that give an argument its validity.
In this section of the test, you’ll be presented with a statement and a set of assumptions. If the statement relies on the assumption being true, you would mark it as ‘assumption made’.
If the assumption is irrelevant to the statement or bears no weight on its validity, you would mark it as ‘assumption not made.
Deductive reasoning is the act of arriving at a fact-based conclusion through a logical thought process. A deduction differs from an assumption in that it is what we take away from an argument, as opposed to the facts on which an argument needs to stand.
Based solely on the evidence presented in a statement or short paragraph, you’ll need to determine if a list of conclusions does or does not logically follow the information in front of you.
The interpretation section of the Watson Glaser test is similar to the deduction section, in that you’ll be asked to determine whether a given conclusion can logically be drawn from an argument.
However, with these questions, you’ll need to be able to identify significant pieces of information and decide if a logical interpretation can be applied in support of the conclusion in question.
This last section looks at your ability to separate a weak argument from a strong one. It is designed to test your impartial evaluation of arguments, not your personal opinion.
A question will be posted, followed by a set of arguments on either side of the debate. You’ll need to decide if an argument is relevant and challenging, and therefore strong, or vague and unrealistic, and therefore weak.
What skills does it look to measure?
The five sections combined to give an overall picture of your performance in key areas, and measure your ability to:
Define a problem
Select key points of information to formulate a solution
Understand when an assumption has been made, and when it has not
Hypothesise, or select an applicable hypothesis based on limited evidence
Draw fact-based conclusions
Determine the probability of an inference
What is a passing score on the Watson Glaser tests?
The results of your Watson Glaser test will be assessed against a norm group: individuals of a comparative educational background or professional standing – within a relevant field – that have previously sat the exam.
It is therefore difficult to state an exact pass score on the test since it depends entirely on the performance of your peers. Ideally, you’d look to reach 75% and above to give yourself a competitive edge.
Which professions use Watson Glaser tests, and why?
Watson Glaser tests are used to assess suitability for several occupations including those in the medical profession, marketing, and education. Those critical reasoning tests are most common in law firms and professional services sectors.
Many positions in law, banking, and finance, for example, require that an individual make informed decisions that can be justified, are rooted in fact, and are free from bias. Since critical thinking is an essential skill here, employers use Watson Glaser tests to determine how well-suited a candidate is for these professions.
How to prepare for a Watson Glaser test
Practice is the first port of call when preparing for your Watson Glaser test. Although critical thinking is an inherent skill, it can be nurtured and improved upon.
Watson Glaser tests are built around a model known as RED. Try to keep this in mind as you approach both practice tests and daily tasks.
The components associated with the RED model are:
Recognising assumptions. Instead of simply taking things at face value, such as the news or a part of a conversation with a friend or co-worker, ask yourself if what you’re hearing can be classified as true, and what the facts are that back it up. Are they evidential, or based on assumptions?
Evaluating arguments. We’re all guilty of seeking out information that confirms our perspective. Instead, actively look for opinions that contradict your own and assess them from an objective point of view. The better you become at seeing both sides of a story, the more prepared you’ll be to critically evaluate arguments in your Watson Glaser test.
Drawing conclusions. Try to get used to drawing fact-based conclusions, rather than those based on emotional reactions or subconscious bias. These conclusions may not align with your perspective, but a Watson Glaser test requires that you conclude impartially – and as with most things in life, practice makes perfect here.