Fingers pointing at young man in suit for situational judgement test tips.

Situational judgement test tips

Here’s our free practice situational judgement test tips.

Best / Worst answers

Make a mental note of any differences with previous SJTs you’ve done. Typically you have to select which is the Best answer option, sometimes you also need to select the Worst option. Another common situational judgement test format is to choose which of the answer options are appropriate. For example, the situation judgement tests for Foundation Entry to become a doctor – the entire UKCAT application suite of tests also encompasses verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning and decision analysis sub-tests.

Unique answers

Secondly, look for unique answer options. Before answering, always read both the scenario and all the best possible answer options very carefully. The answer options are independent of each other. So if you do find two possible responses that are similar, you must study these and determine whether one is in fact a slightly better response than the other answer option. Always remember that it is the best available response required (from those shown). Also remember that you need to select what an individual Should do in the circumstances described. So, don’t answer with what you think is most likely to happen.

Long term solutions

Fourth, avoid solutions that only work in the short-term. Although several of the options may appear valid in the short-term and it’s tempting to be biased towards taking immediate action… remember that it’s the Best response that’s needed. This is more likely to be a medium- to long-term solution that has lasting benefits and does not require the managers (or other team members) to revisit the problem and solve it at a later date.

Situational judgement test tips – Answer honestly

Fifth, focus on answering as the most honest and ethical person you can be. Be your best possible self, not just in terms of your most focused, high-performing self but equally as important is to answer as though you are the most ethical worker. Every correct answer must be founded on honesty, respect, patience and many other virtuous qualities.

What you should do

Remember specific instructions, such as answering what you should do. Remember that typically, situational judgement test instructions specify you to state what you should do. There may be a subtle difference on some situational judgement test questions between what you should and what you would do in that situational judgement test scenario.

People in office sitting at table discussion situational judgement test tips.

Know the role requirements

Reflect upon the job role’s core requirements. Consider the job role that you are applying for. The vast majority of jobs require effective teamwork so don’t give any situational judgement test question a Best answer that implies you have a poor understanding of collaborative working.

Also, think through the

  1. Role’s main responsibilities.
  2. Limits of these responsibilities
  3. People and financial resources available to you
  4. What remedial actions could you realistically take?

Often an situational judgement test test poses questions to test your understanding of what you cannot do within the confines of the job role. For example, the UKCAT situational judgement test that must be passed to get into a UK medical school will pose situational judgement test questions about patient confidentiality. It would be unwise to answer any situational judgement test question that brought into doubt your (medical) ethics.

Ignore the obviously incorrect

Plus, remove those answer options you know must be incorrect. With some psychometric tests, such as situational judgement tests, a useful test-taking strategy is to start by eliminating those answer options which are clearly inappropriate. Sometimes, rejecting several answer options may leave only the correct answer option for you to promptly select. Thereby saving you considerable test-taking time to use on other situational judgement test questions.

Situational judgement test tips – dealing with unethical answers

Also, always remember that any unethical answer options must be incorrect. Following on from situational judgement test Tip (9) there are particular actions which are highly unlikely to be the correct answer. These include:

  • Non-compliance with organisational or industry rules / governance;
  • Type of dishonesty;
  • Challenging actions directed to your manager, or to those higher up the organisational ladder;
  • Aggressive actions or intent;
  • Hiding of errors or mistakes – particularly personal ones.

Avoid the unethical answer options

Plus, break the problem scenario down into the underlying constraints. Break down each situational judgement test scenario using logical analysis of the scenario’s components. You must establish the principle problem being set, plus any secondary constraints on the correct answer.  Knowing the principle situational judgement test problem then allows you to dismiss any of the possible situational judgement test answer options that do not address the situational judgement test’s principle problem. Then – from the situational judgement test’s remaining answer options – you can select the correct one as being that situational judgement test answer option which also addresses the scenario’s secondary constraints.

Avoid the similar answer options

Review the answer options to check if there are two answer options that are very similar. It’s then worth focusing on the other answer options. Here’s the logic for why you can ignore the two similar situational judgement test answer options. The two answer options may differ in the form of action proposed. However think realistically; is the actual outcome from selecting either of these two situational judgement test answer options going to be the same? If so, then neither of these two situational judgement test answer options can be the Best response. Or the Worst response to the situational judgement test scenario (by applying the same logical reasoning).

Situational judgment test tips – use your feedback

Effective feedback is the key to improving your overall performance. That means going through the answer explanations in detail. After each situational judgement test practice session, keep a record of how many questions you get right. Compare your performances so you can gauge your improvement over time.

Most tests are timed and you need to cultivate a focused and alert approach. Your first priority is to work accurately as there’s no benefit in getting situational judgment test questions wrong. But remember that the person sitting next to you could pass because they answered more questions than you did – even though they also got more questions wrong.

Review any careless mistakes

If you find yourself making too many careless mistakes you clearly need to slow down. Yes, you need to work at a brisk pace, but the key is to find the fastest pace that allows you to get situational judgment test questions right. It is also essential to read every word of every question very, very carefully to avoid sloppy mistakes.

Look for trends. Do you tend to make more mistakes at the beginning of your practice session? This could be a consequence of nerves. You need to work on achieving a high state of mental alertness immediately and giving the test 100 per cent focus as soon as you start work.

Are you making more mistakes near the end of your SJT practice session? This could be because you are rushing the last few situational judgement test questions. You need to work steadily and maintain concentration throughout any situational judgment test you take.

Are you clear on why you are getting certain situational judgement test questions wrong? This is key to improving – you need to learn from your mistakes. It’s vital to know where you need to improve most. If you are unaccustomed to a particular type of situational judgement question it makes sense to spend additional time getting comfortable with these questions. Don’t assume that you can pass without learning how to do that sort of situational judgment test question.

Developing strategies

SJTs are tricky with or without a strategy. The more specialised the role to which to you are applying for the more technical the SJT answer options will appear to you. In which case it really is a case of knowing the Best and the Worst options.

Use a Step-by-step approach

Try this step-by-step approach. Logically, the “Best” and “Worst” answers need to be distinct from the other answer options. Hence if two answer options seem very similar to you, it’s likely these are the “distractor” answer options and neither the best – or the worst – answer.

You are then asked to select your most preferred and least preferred responses:

(a) Work out what’s left to do and then prioritise the critical tasks for the time remaining.

(b) Focus on still doing a quality job even if you must miss a deadline.

(c) Speed up your remaining tasks so that you will still be able to meet both deadlines.

(d) Aim to achieve one deadline and to renegotiate the delivery date for the other.

In this instance, the best response is (a) Work out what’s left to do and then prioritise the critical tasks for the time remaining.

The worst response is (b) Focus on still doing a quality job even if you must miss a deadline. The best outcome is to meet the deadline after making a considered judgement call. Missing the important deadline is the worst outcome.

Additional assessment practice

Additional situational judgment test tips are available in Rob Williams Assessment Ltd’s latest Career Builder articles. You may find this article useful, What you need to know about situational judgement tests.