Sep 14, 2023

Written By Helena Kudiabor

8 Secrets to Mastering the Watson Glaser Test Revealed

Sep 14, 2023

Written By Helena Kudiabor

The Watson Glaser test is a test used by many law firms in the UK as a way to assess their applicants. It was designed by Goodwin Watson and Edward Glaser, two psychologists who wanted to assess students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. If you’re nervous about doing well in the test, this article will provide you with eight top tips to help you master it.

Understanding the Watson Glaser Test

To understand how to master the Watson Glaser, it’s a good idea to fully understand how the test is structured. The majority of the tests are 40 questions; however, some firms give 80 questions. You’ll have 30 minutes to complete a 40 question test, and 60 mins to complete an 80 question test, showing the importance of working quickly and accurately. 

The test itself is made up of the five following sections:


You will receive a statement that you must assume is true. Following this, there will be five inferences based on the statement. Disregarding any outside information you can think of you, you’ll mark each inference as definitely true, probably true, insufficient data, probably false and definitely false.

Recognition of Assumptions

Again, you’ll receive a statement. You’ll also be given a number of conclusions related to the statement. Here, you must decide whether the conclusions given are based on assumptions. Your decision will be based solely on the original statement, not on any outside information you may have.


You’ll receive a passage, and a number of conclusions based on the passage. You must decide whether each conclusion logically follows or does not logically follow the passage.


This is very similar to deduction. You’ll receive a passage and several conclusions, and you’ll need to decide whether the conclusions do or do not logically follow the passage. The passage tends to be slightly longer here compared to the deduction section.

Evaluation of Arguments

You’ll receive a passage, and some related arguments. Based on the passage, you’ll need to decide whether the arguments given are strong (backed up with evidence) or weak (mostly based on assumptions).

These questions assess a number of skills law firms look for in trainees: critical thinking, comprehension, deductive reasoning, problem solving and analysis.

In terms of how the test is assessed, there’s no set pass mark. Different law firms use the test to shortlist candidates in different ways. Some firms set their own pass mark (this tends to be around 75%, or 30/40) and only shortlist candidates who achieve this score or above. Others shortlist candidates based on how well they did compared to the rest of the cohort. This means if you didn’t do so well, but everyone else did badly too, there’s still a chance you could be shortlisted. Some firms (particularly smaller ones) look at each application on an individual basis, looking at the Watson Glaser alongside other metrics like answers to application questions, grades and work experience. 

Secret 1: Thorough Preparation is Key

While the Watson Glaser is not a particularly long test, it’s an important one, so it’s a good idea to start studying early. Whether you want to start studying weeks or months beforehand depends on your other responsibilities, your learning style, and how much preparation you can do each day.

To build momentum, and make sure you’re not forgetting things, set up a regular study schedule. For example, you could say that you’ll devote three days a week to prep time. At the beginning, you’ll want to start by familiarising yourself with the structure and format of the exam. As you progress, you should then shift to doing practice tests (untimed then timed) and going over sections you find challenging.

Make use of online resources. The firm you’re applying to should have practice tests on their websites. We also offer our own practice test here. Other resources include YouTube videos and blogs from people who have successfully taken the test.

Secret 2: Practise Under Test Conditions

Starting preparation as early as possible allows you to familiarise yourself with the time restraints. The Watson Glaser requires you to complete 40 questions in 30 minutes, leaving you with less than a minute for each question. You’ll also need to make time to go back and check your answers. Thus, it’s a good idea to do a number of practice tests under timed conditions, so you’re not surprised on test day itself. 

Here are some strategies to overcome tricky time constraints. Firstly, try not to spend too much time on tricky questions. If you’ve been spending too much time on one question, and you’re not much closer to an answer, it’s a good idea to move on. Worst case scenario, you can come back later and finish it. Don’t be afraid of making educated guesses (especially if you’re running out of time): cross out options you know are incorrect and make a logical deduction from the answers available to you. Finally, don’t keep checking the clock after every question, it will make you panic and start rushing. Instead, check after every ten questions.

Secret 3: Understanding the Test Language

During your test prep, you should work to familiarise yourself with the language the test uses. For example, what’s the difference between definitely true and probably true? How do you decide if an inference is definitely false or has insufficient data? What constitutes a strong vs a weak argument? You’ll get used to this through practice tests and going over your answers afterwards.


Secret 4: Master the Art of Critical Thinking

All the questions on the Watson Glaser aim to assess your critical thinking skills, a skill which is crucial to the legal profession. Being a critical thinker means that you carefully examine a piece of data, using hard evidence (as opposed to personal anecdotes) to come to a logical conclusion. As a lawyer, critical thinking allows you to build a strong case for your clients, by applying legal precedents to the facts of the case. It also allows you to scrutinise and unpick the argument of the opposing party. 

Aside from practice tests, there are other ways that you can develop your critical thinking skills. You can read articles from academic journals and reputable news sources, and think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of the story. What does the story emphasise? Whose voices is the story missing? Is the author biased? You can also watch political debates, or even hold your own debates with friends.

Secret 5: Tackle Each Section Individually

When reviewing practice test answers, you might notice that a lot of your mistakes are from the same section. If so, you should spend some time practising that section exclusively. This will help you work out what you’re doing wrong, and will also help you hone the specific skills that section tests.

Here is some additional information to help you ace each section:

Inferences: Unlike interpretations, which logically follow the passage, inferences are likely to follow the passage. This means you will need to read between the lines and decide how connected the inferences are to the text. Some students struggle with the difference between definitely true, probably true and insufficient data. Definitely true means the inference is 100% true and there is no doubt. Probably true means it’s quite likely the inference is true but you can’t be 100% sure. Insufficient data means you cannot tell if the inference is true or false because it’s not discussed enough in the text (for example, if the passage talks about sunscreen but the inference refers to rain). 

Recognition of Assumptions: An assumption can only be made if the information it includes logically follows details from the passage. 

Deduction: True deductions are evidence-based, and are a logical conclusion from the passage. Remember to disregard any outside information. 

Interpretation: Similar to deductions, an interpretation is correct if it logically follows a passage. 

Evaluation of Arguments: Strong arguments are evidence-based, are often backed up with  statistics and are relevant to the text. Weak arguments contradict the text or lack evidence.

Secret 6: Seek Feedback and Learn From Your Mistakes

Doing practice tests is only valuable if you take the time to figure out where you went wrong. When going through the mark scheme, spend some time going over each question you got wrong. Think about what led you to choose the wrong answer. Were you rushing, or did you not understand the question? Make sure you understand why the correct answer is right, and think about how to avoid making the same mistake. Something I found helpful when practising for a different exam was to make a spreadsheet of all the mistakes I made. I would write down the question number, how my answer was wrong, why I answered it wrong, and the steps I would take to avoid repeating this mistake again.

Secret 7: Stay Confident and Positive

With how large a role the Watson Glaser plays in law firm recruitment, it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, just reading this article shows you’re committed to a legal career and are keen to do as much as you can to ace the test. When you feel disheartened, think about how much work you’ve put in, and how prepared you are to complete the test. Think about what puts you in a better mindset: affirmations, power poses, meditation, doing something creative. You could even plan something fun to do after the test, to reward yourself and take your mind off it.

Secret 8: It's More Than Just a Test

The Watson Glaser was specifically designed to test the skills necessary for a successful law career. Thus, instead of thinking of it as a test you have to cram for and pass, think of it as a way for you to show your aptitude for the law. Use the test as an opportunity to practise your critical thinking skills and show law firms that you’ll make an excellent lawyer. 


Best of luck for the Watson Glaser! Use the tips in this article and practice tests online to prepare for the test and develop your transferable skills. Remember to take breaks when needed, remind yourself how far you’ve come, and try out different strategies to stay in a positive mindset before the test. 

You might be wondering what you can expect after completing the Watson Glaser. Successful candidates will be invited to interviews or assessment centres. To do well in these, you’ll need to know exactly what each firm is looking for in their candidates, and how you can demonstrate that you’re a) genuinely interested in the firm and b) have the skills the firm is looking for. 


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