Nov 28, 2018

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

The NQ solicitor’s guide to psychometric tests

Nov 28, 2018

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

If you think that you left exams behind when you took the LPC, think again – employers are increasingly using psychometric assessments to gain more information about how their candidates tick. Law firms are no exception. Here, we take you on a whistle stop tour of aptitude tests, and what each type involves.

Inductive reasoning test

Inductive reasoning tests are there to test your logic and problem-solving skills. If you’ve ever seen a test with a sequence of pictures arranged in a particular pattern, you’ve probably come across an inductive reasoning test. The general idea is for you to determine the sequence based on a pattern, selecting a shape from a collection that comes next in the sequence.

Inductive reasoning tests are different from deductive reasoning as there can only be one outcome – in a sequence of images arranged in a set pattern, only one shape can logically follow on from the next. When you’re completing a test like this, your mind will explore the various different options given and will eventually arrive at the one which is right – a narrowing-down skill which is useful in a lot of jobs. It also tests your ability to identify patterns and spot them as they develop.

Inductive reasoning tests are also unique because they don’t rely on your numerical or verbal ability, or anchor the test in one language; the sequences are made up entirely of shapes, with the shape being rotated, flipped or transformed as the sequence progresses.

It’s likely that your inductive reasoning test will take place online, like a lot of aptitude tests. You’ll also most likely be given a certain timeframe to analyse and answer each question.


Verbal reasoning test

As a lawyer, your ability to communicate is going to be an asset to you – so employers need to know that you’ve got strong verbal communication skills early on. Enter the verbal reasoning test. In this kind of aptitude test, you’ll typically be presented with a body of text, and will have to identify the logic within it, through analysis and interpretation. In aptitude tests for law vacancies, the theme is likely to be legal – you may be tested on a legal passage, for example.

After reading the extract carefully, you’ll either answer a series of true or false questions on what you’ve read, or answer multiple choice questions. Watson-Glaser Critical

Thinking appraisal

This test is a big name among law recruiters and assessors, and it takes high levels of analytical skills to do well. Similarly to in a verbal reasoning test, you’ll be presented with a text to analyse. After reading the text, you will need to answer a series of questions in relation to the text, determining if statements are true, probably true, inadequate data, false, or probably false. You’ll have about an hour to complete the test, which is divided into five questions, assessing five qualities: inferences, assumptions, deductions, interpretations and evaluation of arguments.

The whole point of the Watson-Glaser critical thinking test is to show how good you are at critically considering arguments – a skill that is inevitably going to be required in a law career. It will also help to see how well you can overcome subconscious bias, and make impartial conclusions.

Situational judgement test

A situational judgement test will involve you being presented with a scenario that you’re likely to encounter over the course of a day working in law. You’ll be required to judge the best course of action should that situation occur.

As with a number of other aptitude tests, you’ll be given a set of options to choose from, but unlike other tests there probably won’t be a time limit, giving you a bit of space to plan your answer.

The point of a situational judgement test is to simulate how your day-to-day career may pan out, and see how you respond to day-to-day scenarios. How you answer will give the recruiter a sense of your teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills.

Numerical reasoning test

It probably won’t come as a surprise that the numerical reasoning test is all about numbers. But rather than testing your mathematical ability, this test is designed to show how successfully you can analyse and interpret numerical data in a number of forms. You may be looking at graphs and statistics, and from there you’ll be required to identify issues and draw conclusions.

So why do you need to have numerical ability for a career in law? There are a few reasons. You could have a client within the banking or finance sector. It’s very likely that you’ll work with a corporate client at some point, and business and financial models go hand in hand. For all of these situations, moderate numerical reasoning skills will be required – and the tests will therefore assess you to a moderate level.

Personality test

While you may have taken many Buzzfeed personality tests, the ones used by employers are a bit more sophisticated than the classic “what type of potato are you?”. Employers commonly use the Occupational Personality Test (OPQ), which can have up to 104 questions. Your answers cannot be right or wrong, but are designed to give the best possible indication of who you are, how you think, and how your characteristics might play out at work.

This isn’t anything to worry about – it might identify certain projects that would suit you, for example, or define you as a leader, but it’s mainly just to figure out who they can expect to turn up to an interview.

You’ll be presented with four statements, and asked to pick one that is the most like you, and one that is the least like you. While it can be helpful to do one or two practices online to see how it works, the best (and only) thing you can bring to a personality test is your own brain – just the way it is.


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