Category Archives: psychometric tests

Legal Recruit will be observing ‘best practices’ for design of online practice assessments

The ‘Legal Recruit’ twitter thread (@legal_recruit) is already active.

A small secret group has been set up to provide a normal distribution of data from graduates to norm-reference performance of graduates on the new ‘Legal Recruit’ online verbal reasoning tests.

Psychometric tests have become very significant in legal  recruitment. SHL verbal reasoning tests have become widely used in legal recruitment for corporate law firms for London. A lot of weight is given to their results in shortlisting (or not) good candidates for interview for vacation schemes and training contract applications. It is very important that such tests are used responsibly. My ‘Legal Recruit’ will not be seeking official accreditation from the BPS as my tests are not official psychological tests, and are only meant to be used as useful guidance for law students applying to corporate firms merely as practice. The history of the development of these SHL tests by Roger Holdsworth and Peter Saville is interesting, and briefly given in Roger Holdsworth’s obituary in the Telegraph:

“Holdsworth became convinced that psychometric testing could be developed to assist companies in selecting suitable employees. In 1977 he got together with Peter Saville, whom he had met at the British Psychological Society, to found Saville and Holdsworth (later SHL), a business to develop and promote psychometric testing. Psychometric testing took off in the Second World War, when it was used extensively in the armed services to assess personnel, but by the 1960s, when Holdsworth began his career as a business psychologist, it had failed to catch on elsewhere. Most companies recruited staff on the basis of highly subjective interviews or through the “old boy network”. Not only did Holdsworth feel this was unfair, he knew it led to poor decisions. From its beginnings in a spare room, SHL expanded rapidly, profiting from growing demand for the tests from large firms seeking to identify their own “corporate culture” and recruit staff to fit that mould. Drawing on his aptitude for languages – he spoke 5 fluently – Holdsworth led SHL’s expansion into more than 30 countries.”

Psychological tests, by definition, have to test well-understood cognitive domains in a validated, repeatable, consistent, measurable way. ‘Legal Recruit’ tests are not specialised psychological tests, examining specific cognitive domains. They are, however, intended to allow practice for SHL tests which are widely used by corporate law firms.

Indeed, tbe British Psychological Society (“BPS”) has a register of accreditated tests, which contains some SHL tests. According to the official website of the BPS devoted to psychometric testing,

“Test Registration has been developed to inform and protect the public by the use of ‘quality marks’ on tests that meet the European Federation of Psychologists Association (EFPA) criteria to be classed as having adequate psychological properties. Tests can be registered if they meet minimum quality standards. The quality standards are set by the European Federation of Psychologists Associations and the tests are assessed against the standard through the review process.”

The British Psychological Society maintain standards for psychological testing: according to their website, “Psychological tests are used in all walks of life to assess ability, personality and behaviour. A test can be used as part of the selection process for job interviews, to assess children in schools, assess people with mental health issues or offenders in prisons. The British Psychological Society’s Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) is the first point of contact for anyone who uses, takes or develops tests.. “

I have a deep interest in cognitive neuropsychology, as my PhD from Cambridge and my post-doctoral fellowship from London were in this discipline (particularly the role of the frontal lobes in reasoning, planning and decision-making), As I am disabled with visual impairment, I will ensure that my tests can be done by learners with visual impairments; and all other reasonable adjustments are provided. Whilst the Legal Recruit tests will not be officially accreditated by the BPS, they will all be observing best practice. Some critical documents in best practice by the BPS are provided here,

A test taker’s guide

The code of good practice in psychological testing

Draft Data Protection and Privacy Issues in Employment Related Settings

The BPS also draws attention to the disability issues, in keeping with the corporate law firms’ obligations with the Equality Act (2010):

Dyslexia and Occupational Testing

Visual Impairment and Psychological Testing.pdf

Psychometric Testing for people with a hearing impairment1.pdf

The BPS draw attention also to ‘good practice’ guidelines over computerised testing. ‘Legal Recruit’ will be adhering to these guidelines:

 International Guidelines on Computer-Based and Internet Delivered Tests

Using online assessment tools for recruitment.pdf

Guidelines on the Validity of Graphology in Personnel Assessment

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‘Legal Recruit’ verbal reasoning tests; reasonable adjustments

I feel strongly that disabled candidates (candidates with both ‘seen visibilities’ and ‘unseen visibilities’) should also be able to practice  online verbal reasoning tests in preparation for online verbal reasoning tests almost ubiquitously used in legal recruitment for the purpose of shortlisting purposes for training contacts or vacation schemes.

The display on the online test will in fact look different to this.

This is because we will be, for the first time to our knowledge, have a special icon which people with visual impairment like me  can press to enlarge the text. Note also it will be possible to practice the test under the total time you prefer due to any reasonable adjustments – you can enter this total time. This, again, to our knowledge, is unique to us.

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The new @Legal_Recruit verbal reasoning practice assessment for law students

The @Legal_Recruit system (which will be available here) is a very attractive easy-to-use cloud-based service which will allow @Legal_Recruit learners to complete sample tests, under real assessment conditions.

It will be available on Monday 10 October 2011 for the first time.

Current law students, who are doing the GDL, LPC, LLB(Hons) or LLM, especially those who are seeking training contracts or vacation placements for 2013/4/5 being made available in the next academic year may find this new service/product useful. It will be available on the internet via a secure website, and will cost £7.50 for unrestricted lifetime use. All Legal Recruit learners will have their own secure website username and password, and be invited to participate in the development of the huge bank of validated questions. These questions are set in a fair way, with due attention to equality, diversity and culture.

This product has been built because it is felt by many that law students,  the staff of their colleagues/universities (including their academics and their career services) and corporate law recruiting managers that the pivotal importance of the verbal reasoning test is grossly underestimated. This is not sensible, given the intense effort needed to complete any qualification in law. However, if your performance in a verbal reasoning test, and you fail to meet the cut-off score, it is possible that you will not be invited for interview, despite having a II.1 or above. This is clearly a tragedy.

Assessments will consist of 30 questions, containing 15 passages (2 questions per passage). The 15 passages will be selected at random by the Legal_Recruit system from a huge database consisting of an equal number of questions in the following 16 subject areas.

  • Biology
  • Business
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Environment
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Health and Safety
  • Human resources
  • Medicine
  • Modern Languages
  • Physics
  • Technology
  • Transport

@Legal_Recruit follows the leading twitter accounts in the world which daily produce news stories, which make excellent narratives for the verbal reasoning assessment that Legal_Recruit will be offering.

Legal_Recruit learners will be able to choose a maximum time permitted from 19 to 39 minutes; this is to that it’s easy to do the assessments with reasonable adjustments for learners who will benefit from them to allow them to perform on a ‘level-playing field’.

It’s interesting that there is no subject bias at all in the exemplars. Interestingly the passages appears to avoid contentious branding, politics, or subjects which are generally controversial.

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