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Overview of Psychometric Tests

28 September 2015 |

Psychometric tests, situational judgement tests and E-tray exercises are used by firms to test certain skills and abilities that applications and interviews may be less effective at assessing. They can also be used by firms to whittle down the vast number of applicants to a more manageable pool of interviewees. Many firms simply require candidates to meet a certain fixed benchmark in order to progress through this stage of the interview process (although most refuse to reveal what this benchmark is). Psychometric tests are to a large extent intuitive and different methods of tackling them better suit different people. It is thus difficult in this brief handbook to provide extensive guidance. However, I will provide a brief insight into some of the tests that are commonly encountered and offer some tips and techniques that I personally found to be of help when completing numerous tests throughout my time at university.

Types of Test

  • The most commonly found tests are: (1) verbal reasoning tests); (2) logical reasoning tests (typically SHL); (3) numerical reasoning tests (typically SHL and usually not set by law firms); (4) situational judgement tests (typically tailored to the specific firm to which you are applying); and (5) E-Tray or email simulation exercises.
  • Most tests are in a multiple choice format and require you to select only one answer, although some firms use tests that are specifically tailored to them or tests produced by different organisations. This section of the handbook will focus only on the most commonly found psychometric tests (namely those produced by SHL and the Watson Glaser test). Some tests may involve negative marking, in which case guessing answers may not be advisable. It may be worth checking whether this is the case before taking a particular test.

General Tips

  • All the tests put you under time pressure, so you must strictly pace yourself. Find out how long you have to complete the test and how many questions you will face, then work out the time you have to answer each question and monitor the clock!
  • Some tests (e.g. SHL tests) do not let you scroll back and change answers once you have confirmed your choice, whereas others (e.g. Watson Glaser tests) let you move between answers as much as you like until your time runs out. Do not linger for too long on one particular question as you may as a result miss out on the opportunity to answer questions later on for which you do know the answer. With tests that let you scroll backwards and forwards between questions, try making a note of each question that you are unsure about on a piece of paper and then move swiftly onto to the next question so that you have a greater opportunity to respond to questions that you know the answer to. Return to the questions you were unsure about if you have time at the end.