The Watson Glaser critical thinking test is designed to assesses an individual’s ability to digest and understand situations and information.
It is often used by organisations where the ability to critically consider arguments or propositions is particularly important, such as law firms.
Most people complete the Watson Glaser test within 50 minutes (approximately 10 minutes per sub-test). Tests administrators normally allow candidates one hour to complete the test.
The Watson-Glaser test has been co-normed on a sample of over 1,500 respondents representative of graduate level candidates. You will be judged against this respondent group when you sit the test.
You can practise realistic Watson Glaser Tests here.
The Watson Glaser test is designed to test your capacity to think critically.
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is the ability to logically and rationally consider information.
Rather than accepting arguments and conclusions presented, a person with strong critical thinking will question and seek to understand the evidence provided.
They will look for logical connections between ideas, consider alternative interpretations of information and evaluate the strength of arguments presented.
Everyone inherently experiences some degree of subconscious bias in their thinking. Critical thinking skills can help an individual overcome these and separate out facts from opinions.
The Watson Glaser critical thinking test is based around the RED model of critical thinking:
Recognise assumptions. This is all about comprehension. Actually understanding what is being stated and considering whether the information presented is true, and whether any evidence has been provided to back it up. Correctly identifying when assumptions have been made is an essential part of this, and being able to critically consider the validity of these assumptions – ideally from a number of different perspectives – can help identify missing information or logical inconsistencies.
Evaluate arguments. This skill is about the systematic analysis of the evidence and arguments provided. Being able to remain objective, while logically working through arguments and information. Critical evaluation of arguments requires an individual to suspend their judgement, which can be challenging when an argument has an emotional impact. It is all too easy to unconsciously seek information which confirms a preferred perspective, rather than critically analyse all of the information.
Draw conclusions. This is the ability to pull together a range of information and arrive at a logical conclusion based on the evidence. An individual with strong critical thinking skills will be able to adjust their conclusion should further evidence emerge which leads to a different conclusion.
Why is Critical Thinking Important to Potential Employers?
Critical thinking is important to employers because individuals who engage in quality thinking make better decisions. They arrive at conclusions which are impartial, well informed and objective.
Furthermore, such people are able to make decisions with limited supervision, enabling them to independently make judgements: in a world where time can be money, waiting for someone else to validate decisions can be costly and result in missed opportunities.
What is Involved in the Watson Glaser Test?
The Watson Glaser test evaluates a candidate’s critical thinking ability in five separate areas: inferences, assumptions, deductions, interpretations and evaluation of arguments.
Each of these skills is tested separately and there are therefore five different types of questions in the Watson Glaser test. We will explore each of these below.
An inference is a conclusion based on evidence and reasoning. It enables conclusions to be drawn that are not explicitly stated. For example, if we see someone driving a Ferrari we may conclude that they are wealthy.
However, there are a number of alternative explanations: they may have rented or borrowed the car, or they may have acquired huge debt as a result of buying the car.
The problem with inferences is that people often reach a conclusion based on insufficient data, and the conclusion may not therefore be correct.
An inference question typically involves a statement (which you are to assume is true) and a number of inferences based on that statement. Your job is to evaluate whether the inference is correct. You can do this using both the information contained within the passage and information which is commonly accepted knowledge, or information that practically every person has.
You will be given five potential responses and you have to select which you feel is most accurate. These options are:
Definitely True – from the facts given there is no reasonable possibility of it being incorrect.
Probably True – in light of the facts given, it is more likely to be true than false.
Insufficient Data – in light of the facts given it is impossible to say whether it is true or not.
Probably False – in lights of the facts given, it is more likely to be false than true.
Definitely False – from the facts given, there is no reasonable possibility of it being true.
An Example Question
Statement Studies have shown that people who live in England are more likely to own their own homes than people living in Scotland, although there is little difference in the rate of home ownership amongst people who have the same level of educational achievement. The average level of educational achievement is significantly higher in England than Scotland.
Inference 1 People with high educational achievements are in a better position to buy their own homes than people with low educational achievements.
(TRUE. The inference follows from the passage.)
Inference 2 There is a lower rate of home ownership in Scotland among people with relatively high educational achievements than among people in England with much lower educational achievements.
(FALSE. The passage says that the levels of home ownership are similar in England and Scotland for the different levels of educational achievement, and that more people in England both have higher educational achievement and are likely to own their own homes. This suggests a link between educational achievement and home ownership in both England and Scotland. Therefore the person with the highest educational achievement is more likely, on average, to own their own home than the person with lower educational achievements, regardless of whether they live in England or Scotland.)
Inference 3 People with higher levels of educational achievement are more likely to own their own homes, since they earn more money than those with lower educational achievement levels.
(PROBABLY TRUE. It is widely known that educational achievement is linked, on average, to higher-salary jobs. While one cannot conclusively say that this is true based on the information within the passage, it is probably true based on commonly accepted knowledge.)
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.
An assumption is something we take for granted. An example might be: “When I retire I will receive a final salary pension”. This assumes that you will get to retire, that you will be alive at retirement age, that your pension fund performs well, and that your pension arrangements will not change.
People make many assumptions which may not necessarily be correct; being able to identify these is a key aspect of critical thinking.
An assumption question typically involves a statement and a number of assumptions. Your job is to identify whether an assumption has been made or not, and you will have a choice of two answers: yes or no.
Statement We need to save money so we’d better take a holiday in the UK.
Assumption 1 Holidays in the UK are cheaper than holidays elsewhere.
(YES. It is assumed in the statement that the cheaper price of holidays in the UK will enable the individual to save money.)
Assumption 2 Transport costs make international holidays more expensive than those in the UK.
(NO. This assumption is not made in the statement, there is nothing mentioned about the cost of transport within the passage, and there are many reasons why a holiday in the UK may be cheaper.)
Assumption 3 It is possible to take a holiday within the UK.
(YES.This is assumed, as in order for the individual to take a holiday within the UK, it must be possible to take a holiday within the UK.)
A deduction is the drawing of a conclusion in a particular instance, by referring to a general law or premise. However, there may be occasions when such deduction is incorrect.
For example, in the statement: "Satsumas, oranges and clementines are all citrus fruits. They are all orange; therefore all citrus fruits are orange." Clearly this is incorrect.
Deduction questions include a statement (which you must assume is true), followed by a number of potential conclusions. Your job is to identify whether the conclusion logically follows from the statement and you will have two options: yes or no.
Statement It sometimes snows in January. Schools are always closed when it snows. Therefore:
Deduction 1 Schools are never closed on days when it is not snowing.
(NO. The conclusion does not follow. You cannot tell from the statements whether or not schools ever close on days when it does not snow. Some may do.)
Deduction 2 Schools are sometimes closed in January.
(YES. The conclusion does follow from the information provided since schools must be closed on days when it snows in January.)
Deduction 3 Sometimes schools are open in January
(NO. The conclusion does not logically follow from the information provided, even though you may know that in reality schools are often open in January.)
An interpretation is an evaluation of whether a conclusion can logically follow from the information or evidence provided. This requires an individual to understand the precise meaning or significance of a piece of information and applying this information appropriately.
For example, if you are told in a study that the wavelength of light visible to the human eye range from 380–750nm, you can conclude that no humans can see light at 30nm.
Statement A study of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions within the EU from 1990 to 2010 shows that the volume of CO2 emissions fell consistently, from 24bn tonnes per year in 1990 to 16bn tonnes per year in 2010.
Interpretation 1 The reductions in CO2 emissions demonstrate that energy efficiency initiatives have been successful
(NO. This conclusion does not follow from the information given, which provides no evidence to explain the changes in CO2 emissions.)
Interpretation 2 The amount of CO2 emitted within the EU in 1992 was less that 24bn tonnes.
(YES. The conclusion follows beyond a reasonable doubt since, according to the statement, the volume of CO2 emissions fell consistently.)
Interpretation 3 CO2 emissions in 2011 were lower than in 1990.
(NO. This conclusion does not follow beyond doubt, because evidence is only provided for the period 1990 to 2010.)
Evaluation of Arguments
This set of questions examines your ability to evaluate the strength of an argument. Arguments can be strong or weak, and to be strong an argument must be important and directly related to the question.
In these questions, you will be presented by a statement followed by a number of arguments (which you should assume are true) and you must then decide whether each argument is strong or weak.
Statement Should the voting age in the UK be lowered to 16?
Argument 1 Yes; voting provides an opportunity for young people to feel like adults.
(WEAK. This would be a poor reason for lowering the voting age.)
Argument 2 Yes; young people will be affected in the future by decisions made today.
(STRONG. This is important and relevant to the statement.)
Argument 3 No; 16-year-olds are unduly influenced by celebrities.
(WEAK. This argument is not directly related to the question, since being influenced by celebrities does not necessarily mean that 16-year-olds should not have the opportunity to vote on important issues.)
How Can You Prepare for a Watson Glaser Test?
Critical thinking ability can be significantly improved by practice. It is a skill that can be learned, although it does come more easily to some people than others.
Look for opportunities to think critically about information every day. Once you start practising, you’ll find useful material everywhere: blog posts, newspapers, and journal articles are great places to look.
It can be useful to organise your thinking and practice around the RED model mentioned earlier in the article:
Recognise assumptions. Practise identifying the assumptions in material. What can be objectively proven and what is inferred? Where might there be gaps in your logic? What information is important and relevant, and what isn’t? What is missing? Is there any information that needs to be included which isn’t?
Evaluate arguments. Practice carefully analysing the arguments presented. What is your perspective on the evidence? Could someone else have a different perspective? Consider the impacts of the arguments from a range of different viewpoints (it can be useful to use a model like PESTLE – political, economic, socio-demographic, technological, legal and environmental – to organise your thoughts). How would someone argue against your position? What merits are there to their arguments?
Draw conclusions. After you have considered all of the facts, what is the best possible conclusion? Could there be any other conclusions? What new information might change your conclusion? Does this conclusion seem sensible based on your common sense and experience? What are the implications of this conclusion?
It is also useful to develop your self-awareness. Understanding your biases and thinking patterns can help you identify where your thinking might be limited.
Finally, do take some practice tests. It can be really helpful to work through some examples with explanations as you will really start to understand how they work and how to think through the questions and arrive at the correct answer.