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Critical Thinking Tests

Updated May 18, 2022

Written by the WikiJob Team

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Critical Thinking Explained: What Is It?

Critical thinking is a form of reflective reasoning that evaluates information and arguments by applying a range of intellectual skills to reach clear, logical and coherent judgements within a given context.

Instead of accepting arguments and conclusions presented, a person with strong critical thinking will question and scrutinize the evidence provided. They will look for logical connections between ideas, consider alternative interpretations and evaluate the strength of arguments presented.

Everyone experiences some degree of subconscious bias in their thinking. Critical thinking skills can help an individual separate out facts from opinions.

These tests are used to determine an individual's ability to think critically and as a way of assessing a candidate's suitability for an organisation or a specific position within it.

Critical Thinking Test

The critical thinking test is designed to test your ability to analyse text and use logic in your reasoning.

What Is a Critical Thinking Test?

A critical thinking test is designed to assess your capacity to conceptualise, analyse and reason when presented with a specific scenario.

Within the legal sector, critical thinking is a necessity in many different areas of work. Therefore these tests are often used in applications for law roles, to determine whether you are sufficiently skilled to handle the day-to-day challenges that legal professionals face.

It is not unusual for candidates to be asked to complete a situational judgement or personality test in addition to the critical thinking assessment.

You can practise realistic critical thinking tests here.

The Structure of a Critical Thinking Test

During a crucial thinking test you will be presented with a paragraph of information, usually setting out a given scenario and including both numerical and written data.

Accompanying this paragraph will be a statement asking you to determine how truthful you think the statement is based on the information provided.

The test will typically include five sections as described below, which are used to measure how effectively you can work through information using analytical reasoning.

Assumptions

Here the candidate will be expected to carefully evaluate the scenario and then conclude whether any assumptions are present in the statement.

As an example, a statement within the paragraph could include the phrase "only employees in senior roles can afford to purchase luxury vehicles". In this statement, it is assumed that the luxury vehicle will cost more than a standard car.

In these types of question, the information is provided for the candidate to review. It is up to the candidate to determine whether any assumptions have been made.

Analysis of Arguments

This type of question will present a scenario such as whether the government should cover the cost of tuition fees for students. Following the question are a set of arguments in favour of and against the given scenario.

Candidates will then need to determine whether the arguments are weak or strong, based on their relevance and the way in which they address the question. If the argument directly relates to the statement the argument is considered to be strong; conversely, if the argument is not directly related to the question, the argument would be weak.

Deduction

A deduction-based question is one where the candidate is expected to assess a set of deductions made about the information presented. If the candidate cannot deduce a statement from the data provided, the deduction is not applicable and the candidate must select which deductions apply and which ones don’t.

The answer must be based on the information provided, rather than conclusions that the candidate may reach based on their existing knowledge.

Inference

In this type of question, the candidate will be presented with a collection of possible inferences. The candidate will be asked to state whether the inferences are possibly false, possibly true, absolutely true or absolutely false, or it is not possible to reach a decision based on the information provided.

Interpretation

The final type of question within a critical thinking test is one that asks the candidate to interpret information. As with all of the other questions above, candidates are presented with a paragraph of information accompanied by a set of possible conclusions.

The candidate will then need to interpret this information and reach a decision as to whether any of the conclusions are possible based on the information.

Preparing For The Test

The majority of firms who use critical thinking tests are those in the legal sector, since legal jobs require candidates to critically review propositions and arguments as part of their daily duties. That being said, they can also be used for any industry where critical thinking skills are required.

When a critical reasoning test features as part of an assessment day, it is very unlikely that it will be the main factor in deciding whether you are suitable. Critical reasoning will just be one of the elements that the recruiter will use, in combination with a variety of other tools they will use to build up a bigger picture of your overall abilities.

If however, the critical thinking test appears towards the beginning of the recruitment process, it may be used as an initial screening tool to shortlist candidates. A poor performance during the test at this stage could result in early elimination.

To be successful in a critical reasoning test, you do not have to learn new material or conduct any research, nor will you be asked to draw on your existing knowledge.

All of the information that you need to complete the test will be provided at the time. It is simply a case of evaluating the information that you have been presented with. However this should not be underestimated: the tests can be a challenge to say the least.

The most widely used critical thinking test is known as the Watson Glaser. Let’s look at it in more detail:

The Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test Explained

If you are asked to complete a critical thinking test, it is very likely to be one called Watson Glaser, which was created by TalentLens and is now the most popular way to measure critical thinking skills.

Many believe it to be one of the most successful ways of predicting success in employment, identifying good managers and selecting the most suitable person for a specific job role (usually in law).

The latest version of the test was released in 2011, with a number of improvements including Item Response Theory scoring and enhanced face validity. The test was originally developed by Edward Glaser and Goodwin Watson, and was devised as a method of assessing those critical skills required to think in a clear, well reasoned and structured manner.

During the test, a candidate will be expected to complete questions based around five key areas mentioned previously.

Take a Free Practice Watson Glaser test

If you would like to practise a simulation Watson Glaser test, please try the one below, which was created by JobTestPrep in association with psychometric experts, and is closely modelled on real tests.

The test consists of 10 questions to be answered in 10 minutes approx (although there is no timer on the test itself). Our test is slightly harder than the real thing, in order to make it sufficiently challenging practice.

You need to get 70% correct to pass the test. Don't forget to first check out the test techniques section further down this page beforehand.

You can take the test as many times as you like. Click the 'Take test' link below to get started.

Watson Glaser Test

A Watson Glaser test is designed to assesses your ability to digest and understand situations and information; it is frequently used by law firms. Try these 10 questions as an introduction.

Questions 10
Pass Percentage 80%
Time Limit 13:45 min

Top Tips for Critical Thinking Tests

To succeed in a critical thinking test, there are various steps that you can take to make sure that you perform as well as possible:

Review all the information

This may seem like an obvious tip, but is surprising how many people skip through the content just to get the question finished. Failure to read and absorb the information can have disastrous consequences.

Quickly skimming through the content can result in missed understanding or the omission of key pieces of data. Some candidates may find that reading the question several times can help, but remember these tests are usually timed so you may have to think quickly.

Timing

Before you attempt the real test, practice as much as possible and if you can, try to find out how many questions there will be so you can plan your time.

When you are completing the test, keep an eye on the time and don’t spend too long on one question. You can always come back to it at the end if you have time.

As critical thinking tests are usually quite complex in nature, they tend to have a generous time limit (in some rare cases, no time limit at all). Use this to your advantage when reading the passage of information, evaluating the question and providing your response.

Read the Instructions

At the beginning of each section, you will be provided with instructions detailing how to answer that section correctly. If, for example, the question asks you to evaluate whether the given arguments are strong or weak, the instruction cover page will advise what is classed as being a strong or a weak argument.

Take sufficient time to read these instructions so you can answer the questions properly.

Logic

This is a crucial part of the critical thinking test and understanding the difference between fact and fallacy can optimise your performance.

A fallacy is essentially an error or something misleading in the information due to a presumption or misconception. Where this type of logic is used, it can result in an argument that is invalid.

Researching the various types of confusing, misleading or false information that may appear in these tests enables you to be more alert to something in the information which has been deliberately used to throw you off or cause confusion.

General Knowledge

Sometimes you may encounter a question in the test that is based on real information. As a result, there’s a risk that you base your answer on your general knowledge rather than the information presented in the test. During the tests, always avoid using your existing knowledge. Rely only on the information you are presented with.

Practice

Critical thinking tests are complex and certainly designed to challenge. Therefore it is strongly advised that you carry out sufficient practice before the tests so you can become accustomed to the five different areas.

The more practice you undertake, the more confident you will be in approaching the questions in the real critical thinking test.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Watson-Glaser critical thinking test is one of the best-known critical thinking tests in the world.

It is a common test for professional services as it allows employers to see how a candidate may identify assumptions, understand information and create conclusions.

In addition, the Watson-Glaser test is commonly used within the legal sector.

Passing a critical thinking test relies on understanding what the question is asking you to do. Therefore, you must come to your answer using only the information provided.

It can be tempting to use your knowledge and understanding to create a conclusion. Still, critical thinking tests are looking to see how you can interpret and understand the information presented to you.

You need to look carefully at what you are being asked to do and establish as much logic as possible. Try to see if there are any contradictions between the information provided, which could contrast with the logic that you’ve discovered.

An easy tip to help you practice is to read as much non-fiction as possible. Try to read various newspapers; you’ll start to discover how different approaches and perspectives can alter how a news story is written. The more you do this, the easier it will be to see how different logic patterns and conclusions emerge.

Another tip is to practice critical thinking tests as much as you can. It will help you identify what you are being asked to do and familiarise yourself with the test, but it can help you practice your timings. For example, Watson-Glaser tests are timed, so you must practice to see how long you have to answer each question.

Critical thinking tests aren’t difficult, but your success may depend on how good your critical thinking skills are. These aren’t inherent skills; instead, they are skills that we have to learn and work towards. Therefore, the more time you spend focusing on how to improve your critical thinking skills, the easier you may find the test.

If you have not prepared, you may find the Watson-Glaser test hard. This is because it is a very specific type of test. If you are not familiar with the questioning style or are unsure what the questions are asking you to do, you could end up with a lower score.

Big brands such as Amazon choose to use critical thinking tests within their recruitment strategies because they want to identify those candidates with the potential to succeed.

In addition, they want to learn more about individuals than just their resumes. Using critical thinking tests can predict how you may behave in certain scenarios. They can see how you work and how you arrive at conclusions. This tells them whether you are right for the job role that you are applying for, and it also gives them insights into your future leadership potential.

Businesses do not have the time or budget to review their recruitment strategies. Therefore, they need to hire the right people who can get started with the job quickly and easily. Critical thinking tests are common within professional industries, especially the legal sector because they give employers an insight into each candidate and their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking tests are useful for two reasons.

Firstly, they are a standardized assessment. This means that employers can judge each candidate fairly within the recruitment process, on an even playing field. They can directly compare and contrast the test results.

Secondly, critical thinking is a crucial skill in today’s workplace. It’s an essential component of problem-solving and helps people to work effectively. Therefore, businesses need workforces who can look beyond the information provided to them and think about what they should be doing and why.

If you are looking to practice a critical thinking test before your official assessment, you could look to sites such as JobTestPrep. Here, you can use their comprehensive study guides to prepare for the Watson-Glaser test and familiarise yourself with the types of questions you could ask.

This depends on the test itself, as well as the employer. The Watson-Glaser test doesn’t have a specific score, but broadly speaking, many law firms will expect candidates to achieve a minimum of 75-80% on the assessment.

This is because the law is an area where critical thinking is a vital skill set. Other professions may have lower pass requirements.

You should be aware that these tests are competitive. The higher your score, the more likely you will impress a hiring manager.

If your test takes place at the start of your recruitment process, you can deduce that the critical thinking test is being used to shortlist applicants. Therefore, you must prepare carefully to give yourself a greater chance for success.

To prepare for a test, think carefully about your critical thinking skills. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know how to recognize assumptions within the text you are reading? Can you think beyond what you are told and know how to evaluate arguments to create a conclusion? Can you identify any particular biases or misinterpretations?

As part of your preparation, you could use online practice tests. This will help to familiarise yourself with the questioning style and help you understand your strengths. These online tests will also help you practice your timing, so you know how long you have to spend on each question.

Your preparation shouldn’t just be about the test itself. It should also be used to improve your critical thinking skills in general. The more you can improve your technique, the more productive you will become, which will improve your employability.

If you are asked to take a Watson-Glaser test, you can expect to be asked 40 questions. These will be split across five distinct areas;

  1. Inference
  2. Recognition of Assumptions
  3. Deduction
  4. Interpretation
  5. Evaluation of Arguments

When it comes to critical thinking tests, assumptions are where you have come to a conclusion without the answer being specifically inferred within the text provided.

You will be provided with a passage that you must read through carefully. In the end, you will be given a series of assumptions relating to that passage. You will need to identify which assumptions could be justified based on the information you have just read.

The assessment aims to see whether you can justify if an assumption is true or false according to the information provided.

Assumptions are important in critical thinking because they link understanding and refuting specific arguments.

Critical thinking tests are timed. You will likely have anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes.

You can expect to have at least one minute to answer each question. Therefore, as part of your test preparation, you should practice some online critical thinking tests to check your timings.

Edward Glaser and Goodwin Watson developed the Watson-Glaser critical thinking test.

Many professional services increasingly use critical thinking tests as part of their application process. In particular, the legal sector is known for incorporating the Watson-Glaser tests in their recruitment drives.

Specific companies that have previously used critical thinking tests as part of their recruitment campaigns include Amazon, Bank of England, Deloitte, Hiscox, Linklaters, and Simmons & Simmons.

As critical thinking tests become more reliable and affordable, you can anticipate that they will become more commonplace in small and medium-sized companies.

Critical thinking tests have no right or wrong answers because assessors are more concerned with how you come to an answer. But, even if you cannot ‘fail’ a critical thinking test, you could achieve a lower score than your peers.

Companies often use critical thinking tests as a standardized assessment to directly compare applicants. If you achieve a low score or are significantly lower than your peers, you will be less likely to proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Here are a few tips to give you the best possible chance for success in your next critical thinking test.

  1. Read the question carefully. The critical thinking test will look carefully to see how you interpret and assess information. Therefore, you need to be crystal clear that you know exactly what you are asked to do. Read the question several times before you submit your answer.

  2. The test is divided into five sections: Inference, Recognition of Assumptions, Deduction, Interpretation, and Evaluation of Arguments. Use your preparation to focus on each area to be 100% confident in each aspect of the test. You may wish to divide the test time by five, so you are allocating a similar timescale for each part of the assessment.

  3. Use practice test papers and online practice tests to familiarise yourself with the test format. This will help you identify which areas may need additional study, but it will help you practice your timings. The more familiar you are with critical thinking tests, the more confident you will feel on test day.

  4. Focus on improving your critical thinking skills in ‘real life. An easy way to improve your skills is to read different media types. Broaden your horizons and read as much non-fiction as possible. You may be surprised to learn that different perspectives and writing styles could report on the same story differently.

If you are trying to improve your critical thinking skills, you should always come back to the question you were taught at school; who, what, and where? With these three questions, you can start establishing more information that will help you create a conclusion.

Critical thinking questions beginning with who:

  • Who is it about?
  • Who said what?
  • Who could be affected by this?
  • Who is responsible for this?

Critical thinking questions beginning with what:

  • What would happen if?
  • What are the pros and cons?
  • What is the impact of this?
  • What is the other side of the discussion?

Critical thinking questions beginning with where:

  • Where did this happen?
  • Where were the consistencies in the story?
  • Where were the inconsistencies in the story?
  • Where can you get more information?
  • Where can you find the answer?

You may be asked questions along these lines within your critical thinking test. Again, try to use the who, what, and where format to improve your logical thinking.


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