Critical thinking tests are recruiting tools commonly used by companies in the legal or banking sectors. These tests evaluate candidates’ multiple cognitive skills like decision-making, reasoning, analyzing, etc. Therefore, they can be used for different positions, especially for executives and managers.
This article will cover the most basic information about critical thinking tests, from their question types, and popular test names, to tips for preparation.
Critical thinking tests are psychometric tests evaluating one’s competency in multiple cognitive areas. A critical thinking test often includes around 40 to 80 multiple-choice questions under a time limit of 30 to 60 minutes. Candidates are required to choose an answer that best evaluates a statement or conclusion based on provided texts.
These tests are widely used for jobs that need good skills in evaluating, judging, and analyzing. Therefore, positions that need to take these tests are often leading roles (chief executives, managers, representatives, etc.). Furthermore, companies that use these tests the most are usually in the legal or banking fields.
There have reportedly been 5 question types, or sub-tests, in a critical thinking test. None of the types require technical knowledge in any field, however, it is still beneficial to have a prior look at them before taking the tests.
This question type contains a statement and an argument, and your job is to evaluate whether the argument is strong or weak. A strong argument needs to have a concrete relation to the statement and directly counter or support it. If the argument focuses on information that is insignificant or not mentioned in the statement, it is considered weak.
Here is an example of this type of question:
Source: Test Partnership
Answer: E or F
Explanation: The argument is unable to address the statement (in this case, the question) because it doesn’t have any valid ideas to support its point. It doesn’t clearly say what the “other methods” are. In other words, it only raises an opinion and fails to persuade readers to believe it.
In this part, you will be provided with a passage and an assumption. Your task is to decide whether this assumption is concluded from the passage or not. To do this, you need to identify the passage’s main point and supporting evidence(s), then reflect them to the assumption to see how they correlate to each other. If the correlation is not strong or doesn’t exist, then the assumption is not made based on the passage.
Let’s look at an example for a better understanding:
Statement: Frank had plenty of time before his job interview. He decided to walk rather than drive so that he had time to think about the questions that he might be asked while he walked through the peace and quiet of the park.
Argument: Frank finds it hard to think about other things when he is driving.
A. Assumption made
B. Assumption not made
The main point of the passage: Frank walked to his job interview because he wanted to spend time thinking about the questions that he might get asked.
Supporting evidence: “He decided to walk rather than drive so that he had time to think about the questions that he might be asked”.
The assumption is not made because it talks about something that is not mentioned in the passage. The passage states that Frank wanted to walk because it would give him time to think. That does not necessarily mean Frank had difficulty thinking while driving.
The deduction question type provides you with a set of statements and a conclusion. Your task is to decide whether the conclusion follows the statements or not. You need to keep in mind that all statements provided are true by default and no external knowledge can be applied to find the right answer.
Here is an example of a deduction question:
In a particular class, we have:
- All girls like learning Latin
- All students like learning Latin and also like History
- Some boys like learning History
Conclusion: Some boys like learning Latin.
A. Conclusion follows
B. Conclusion does not follow
Explanation: The statements only say that if a student likes Latin, he/she would also like History, not the otherwise. So there is still a possibility that there is no boy interested in Latin.
The task in this type is somewhat similar to the Deduction type: you will be given a passage and a conclusion to determine whether the latter follows the former. However, the difference lies in the approach. While the previous type evaluates how well you infer from given information, this type focuses more on testing your reading comprehension and how you understand verbal information.
Let’s look at an example of this question type:
Source: Test Partnership
Answer: Conclusion does not follow
Explanation: The passage doesn’t mention whether multivitamin supplements are taken daily or not.
This question type provides you with a passage and a statement (inference). Your job is to judge the inference on different levels from “Definitely true“ to “Definitely false“. There can also be an option of “Insufficient information” for the inference that is not at all related to the passage. A tip is to look at the key information in the inference first and then look for those keywords in the passage since it can be lengthy.
Source: Test Partnership
Explanation: The first sentence of the passage (The Thames Tideway Tunnel (TTT), at an estimated cost of £4.2 billion [...]) is the key to the answer. The term “estimated cost” is equivalent to “assumed cost”.
We notice that there are patterns of mistakes made by candidates when taking critical thinking tests. These mistakes mostly come from the lack of caution or misunderstanding of the tests’ purpose. Let’s look at the 4 most common errors that one might make in critical thinking tests.
Use external knowledge
The questions in critical thinking tests normally provide candidates with all the information they need to know to reach the answer. Candidates can easily make mistakes if they forget that the test aims to see how they think, not what they know. To avoid this mistake, you need to develop an open mind and the ability to understand the logic behind given information.
Fail to filter noise information
A passage can be used for several questions, so not everything included in a passage is relevant to particular questions. You need to identify where to put your focus and not waste time on insignificant information. A tip on how to do this is to find clues in the conclusions or statements and work on the passages based on them.
Ignore supporting evidence
This mistake is easy to avoid yet common. You can prevent it by reading the information in a structural method. Start reading the passage with the topic sentence, and then down to evidence relevant to the statements or conclusions.
Make false correlations
Questions in critical thinking tests can confuse candidates to misunderstand the relationships between the statements/passage and the argument/conclusion. This is called a fallacy and is an obvious sign of a lack of critical thinking. To cope with these ambiguous questions, you need to draw clear lines between real possibilities and illusions.
There are currently more than one critical thinking tests that you might face when applying to your dream companies. Therefore, it is better to have research on every kind of test to expect. Here we will introduce the 4 most used critical thinking tests to help you have a better understanding
Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (W-GCTA)
This is the most popular critical thinking test on the market right now and is used widely by big companies like Clifford Chance, Simmons & Simmons, BCAT, etc. It is available in 5 languages and can be taken both online or on paper. After finishing the test, you will be given your result with both an overall score and a detailed development report.
To know more about this famous test, check out our detailed post on the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal.
Source: Pearson Talentlens
Cappfinity Critical Reasoning Test
This is a critical thinking assessment developed by Cappfinity with a format similar to the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. However, its main focus is on problem-solving. It is mostly used in legal sectors and other big companies like Deloitte and Ernst & Young. This test is typically taken online.
Test Partnership Concepts Critical Thinking Test
This test is produced by Test Partnership with familiar question types to the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. It is an online test with 24 questions and a time limit of 24 minutes. This test can be customized and applied for different levels of recruitment from apprentices to executives.
Source: Test Partnership
1. Read carefully
No matter how cliche it may sound, reading the questions carefully is still the most important thing in critical reasoning tests. Many candidates lose points for underestimating skimming for details and only staying at scanning for main ideas. Misreading can lead to fallacies and mistakes that can totally be avoided.
2. Time control
It is a big challenge to make reasonable decisions under a tight time restraint, and that is what the critical reasoning tests want you to do. A tip on how to cope with this is to read the passages carefully. A single passage is often used for multiple questions, so you only need to read the long text only once if you do it attentively the first time.
3. Solve puzzles or brain teasers
One way to train your brain for critical thinking is to play with puzzles or brain teasers. Although the critical thinking tests are advanced analysis assessments and puzzles may not help much with practicing, frequent exposure to logical exercises is beneficial for building a critical mindset.
Here are some puzzle games that you might be interested in:
Although critical thinking tests don’t require any expert knowledge, you should still prepare for them to achieve the best result. Below are some tips that may be useful for you in doing these tests.
- Train your Brain
- Brain Test: Tricky Puzzles
- Brainilis - Brain Games
- Brain Wars
- Skills - Logic Brain Games
4. Practice with all question types
Although you don’t need any specific knowledge to ace these tests, practicing still helps you enhance your skills and mindset for them. You should become familiar with all of the listed question types by using practice questions similar to them.
For the deduction type, you can check out our Deductive Reasoning Test package for numerous practice questions and detailed explanations.
There are also free sample tests from the test providers themselves. You can access them here: