2 December 2015.
By Will Foulkes.

The most popular critical thinking test is the Watson Glaser test, created by Pearson. The tests consists of several different sections with separate and distinct requirements, that require you to analyse a text and evaluate conclusions from it. For each paragraph of text there are four conclusions which are given to you. Your job is to decide, based on whether the question asks you what can be inferred, whether an assumption has been made, what conclusions can be drawn and so on.


For a practice test published by Pearson, read more here.


What are the main sections?

Section 1: Inference — “an inference is a conclusion that a person can draw from certain observed facts”. For example if there is a light on in a house, an outside observer might infer that the house is occupied. This may or may not be true. In this section there is a paragraph of text and you need to decide, for each statement you are given, whether it is True, Probably True, Insufficient Data, Probably False or False.

Section 2: Recognition of Assumptions — “an assumption is something presupposed or taken for granted”. For example if you say, next week I will pass my driving test you are making an assumption that you will do so. It may or may not actually happen. In this section there is a single statement and several proposed assumptions. You need to say whether or not the proposed assumptions is taken for granted in the statement.

Section 3: Deduction — “a process of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the premises presented, so that the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true”. You have to consider the sentences in the test to be true and your task is to decide if the following proposed conclusions either definitely do or definitely don’t follow the statement.

Section 4: Interpretation — “to construe or understand in a particular way”. Again there is a statement and proposed conclusions. Your job is to decide if the conclusion follows beyond a reasonable doubt from the statement.

Section 5: Evaluation of Arguments — “for an argument to be strong, it must be both important and directly related to the question”. A weak argument is one that is not related to the question (despite however true it may be generally). There is a statement followed by several proposed arguments. You need to decide for each argument whether it is strong or weak.


How do you do pass it?

You usually need to receive over 70 % correct questions answered although this varies from firm to firm. Often it is just used as part of the overall interview process and a bad score is not necessarily enough to prevent you getting a training contract if you do well in the other areas.


How best to approach it?

— Timing is everything. You will be under strict time pressure. I suggest that you take off your watch and place it in front of you. Work out how much time you have for each section and stick to it. Usually you are allowed 50 minutes, which equates to 10 minutes per section and about 30 seconds per question. You have to move fast

— Familiarisation with the different sections is critical and practising as much as possible beforehand is advised (see links below).

— Understand each section and what it requires of you completely before you go into the test. When you are taking the test you should just need to remind yourself which section you are on. Note : remembering the requirements of each specific question and not mixing them will determine whether you pass or fail. It will be very fast so always keep this in mind and don’t be afraid to double check before answering.

— Sometimes, for example in the inference section, you need to separate your instinctive reaction from the logical reaction based on the text. Often the questions are designed to get you to react without thinking, because the answer is seemingly obvious. However pay close attention to whether you need to include your own general knowledge or stick just to the information in front of you. Sure a moving car would usually mean that there was someone behind the wheel but are you actually told that?

— Trust yourself with your answers and move on if you have no idea. If you find yourself spending more than 45 seconds on a question star it and move on. The aim should be to get through the whole test as fast as possible leaving about 10 minutes at the end to revisit the starred questions. If you spend too long on one question you risk not having enough time to answer several easier questions correctly.