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Answers to Government Legal training contract scheme’s situational judgement test surface online

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The Government Legal Department in London

The government’s legal arm has moved to reassure aspiring lawyers hoping to secure a place on its training programme that its recruitment processes remain robust and fair after the answers to its situational judgement test (SJT) surfaced online.

The Government Legal Profession (GLP), which recruits around 60 trainee solicitors and pupil barristers each year, issued a short statement last week, saying it had been alerted to the “circulation on social media of a ‘key’ claiming to provide answers to [its] situational judgement test.”

The key, which provides responses to 15 situational questions, has been distributed among students over the past month, mainly via WhatsApp groups, student forums and email. A copy of one such email (with the answers and sensitive information redacted) received by a student and passed on to Legal Cheek can be seen below:

A copy of the email circulated among students

The email features the subject heading, “GLS Trainee SJT KEY SPREAD THE WORD!”, and it even advises applicants to randomly submit two incorrect answers to guarantee a score of 18 to 20 points. This, according to the email, will be “enough to get through with no suspicion”. It remains unclear how the ‘key’ ended up online.

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The SJT is a psychological test for candidates containing various realistic scenarios where they have to choose the most appropriate response, and forms part of GLP’s recruitment processes. GLP’s statement added that “action” had been taken by TMP and PeopleScout, the recruitment firms who run the SJT on the GLP’s behalf, to “ensure the integrity of the processes is maintained and the system remains robust.”

But not everyone was happy with the government’s response. “Sadly it was always going to be a case of ‘horses and stable doors'”, one applicant told Legal Cheek. “Hundreds of applications will have been submitted by people using the key.”

A spokesperson for PeopleScout said: “We are investigating the situation and continue to work closely with Government Legal Profession to ensure that the situational judgement test (SJT) process remains robust. As Government Legal Profession shared last week, immediate action was taken to ensure the ongoing integrity of the process.”

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108 Comments

ZONE 1

Congrats Tom! At your desk for 9, posting article, and they aren’t just rewritten from elsewhere!

That’s you done for the day as usual, right? Enjoy the rest of your day off pal.

(55)(3)

Anonymous

First this, then Pulitzer prize.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

I would walk

Look at KK

What a waste of time

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Tom

Man the f*ck up

Tell Alex to ram his job

Walk out and find something worthwhile to do with your life

Do it today

Be somebody

Yeah

(11)(0)

Tom

Good point well made

Anonymous

Situational judgement is silly. It tends to be favoured by paper pushers in. the civil service and city firm HR departments to give the impression that they have an impartial process.

(25)(3)

Anonymous

The problem with the use of online testing in TC/VS applications is that there will always be students who cheat. It is probably quite common for students to take assesments such as the Watson Glaser test in groups.

(18)(1)

Anonymous

Some students even pay others to do the tests

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Can you imagine being such a beta having to pay someone to sit the Govt SJT??

(6)(6)

Anonymous

Not difficult for Thomas to imagine that.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

Most firms will make applicants do another Watson Glaser test at their assessment centre in conventional examination conditions, so I don’t think the prevalence of cheating in the initial test will make much of a difference.

(1)(10)

Anonymous

The easiest way for the GLP to weed those who cheated out would definitely be to ask them to do another at any assessment centre.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Well not really. The test is so arbitrary that it is not unusual for someone to get 90% the first time and 50% the second time, even without cheating.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

I think its fairly common for people to take this test with a clever friend sitting next to them just to double check the answers

(4)(0)

LSE Second Year Law Student

Online tests such as verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and WG should scrapped. A lot of Chinese students in my year were either doing these tests in groups or paying someone to do each test. I know someone who got offered a vacation scheme at Weil after paying someone to do the WG for him.

(44)(0)

Anonymous

If you feel that strongly about it, let Weil know.

(7)(4)

LSE Second Year Law Student

Don’t really want to ruin his career. I think it could be because English is not the first language for Chinese applicants so they struggle with verbal and WG tests.

(19)(5)

Anonymous

I am not English, and I got a TC – HONESTLY. The competition is fierce, and must be fair.

(12)(3)

Anonymous

Good thing the student isn’t trying to get a job in an english speaking legal system right? oh wait…

(5)(0)

US Firm Future Trainee

GLS training contract? That’s only for failed law students from poor backgrounds.

(22)(59)

GLS Future Trainee

Haha, have fun photocopying, paginating and paper pushing until the early hours of the morning in your TC. I’ll be thinking of you while managing my own caseload and actually attending court (and leaving the office by 6pm).

(39)(10)

US Firm Future Trainee

You’re deluded. GLS is where you’ll be making coffee for everyone and photocopying and scanning religiously. Have fun spending the peanuts you earn while I’ll be on £55k + bonus in my first year as a trainee.

(8)(40)

GLS Future Trainee

US firms are notorious for giving trainees no responsibility and treating staff like sh*t (high turnover of staff for a reason buddy). GLS are notoriois for responsibility and work/life balance. Moreover, GLS encourages movement across departments; whereas you’ll be pigeonholed as a corporate paper pusher for the rest of your career.

I’ll spend my “peanuts” whilst having fun with my wife and son. Enjoy spending your £55k (+bonus) on a paid porn subscription, as you just might have time enough to have a quick w*nk inbetween sleeps in your overpriced flat next to the office.

I hope the misery is worth the status. Ha!

(54)(6)

US firm NQ

Really depends on the firm and the team. Corporate and Banking – always a lot of preparing bundles, proofreading etc. But there is a lot of much more fun stuff like arbitration, white collar, Intellectual Property etc., where can get a lot more than that (if they like you).

Anonymous

😂😂 as someone at US firm, gotta admit that’s still funny

FailedFastStreamer

Oh Hesuus (Spanish/Portugeese Jesus) those last two sentances by GLS.

As someone who quit the Civil Service (non law) to desperately try and take a final push into law….those lines were killer and in hindsight I made a catastrophically bad call
(mind you the US law firms will enable to get you many killer lines).

Anonymous

GLS future Trainee could not be more on it. I’ve worked as a paralegal in both environments and have only chosen to go with a private firm TC because they can pay for my GDL whereas GLD hasn’t caught up yet. And trust me, in the GLS no one would dare expect anyone else to make their damn coffee for them like a sodding assistant.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Does GLD not offer this? I know they fund LPC/BPTC but please downvote this if they don’t find GDL

(0)(8)

Anonymous

I have personally paid a tutor to do my tests for various firms including CC, FF, Links, Simmons etc. Not proud of this but these tests are absolute garbage and do not determine if someone will be a good lawyer or not. I ended up getting 2 vacation schemes.

(35)(24)

Anonymous

You are right, the test does not determine if someone will be a good lawyer. However, being dishonest by paying someone to do a test which you were required to do probably means you won’t.

(50)(4)

Anonymous

Like I said I’m not proud but I have converted one of the vac schemes into a TC offer. The online test was one small tedious part. Good luck to everyone applying this summer.

(12)(16)

Anonymous

You deserve to wake up and go to work feeling like a complete fraud.

Imagine your motivational talk to law students on how to get a TC. “Well basically, I cheated my way here and i’m not proud”.

You sold your soul before you even started. I wish I knew your firm so I could snitch on you and get you kicked out.

(30)(9)

Anonymous

I don’t feel like a fraud at all. There are so many trainees who spent thousands on private tuition, private schools, tutors to read their applications to get ahead of the competition. That’s cheating in a way. I am proud of getting a TC offer. I excelled in my application, vac scheme and final interview.

(13)(27)

Anonymous

You cheated. End of story.

Your 2 justifications are redundant. [1] If you excelled, you did so after you cheated. [2] Tuition is not the same as somebody else doing your test.

You are a fraud with no integrity, but look on the bright side, you got a TC. You cannot hold your head high and tell your full story, but at least you got a TC. You cannot have pride, but at least you have a salary.

(19)(6)

Anonymous

I am very proud of myself and hold my head up high. I don’t give a crap that someone else did some silly test. I’ve got my TC at a magic circle firm. Good luck to the rest of you.

Anonymous

By virtue of the decision in Ivey v Genting Casinos, it doesn’t really matter whether you consider yourself to be fraud. You’ve clearly acted dishonestly by reasonable standards and your attempts to conflate this to students using private tuition suggests you’re a touch thick-headed as well as dishonest.

Assuming you qualify and continue in the law, your clients and colleagues are going to place an enormous amount of trust in you and expect you to act with integrity. It would be wise to reflect on your attitude towards honesty and probity before you qualify. Fail to do so and you strike me as the sort of person who’s destined to wind up in front of the SDT.

(19)(2)

Anonymous

Unfathomable arrogance from the cheater. To turn around and wish the non cheaters good luck?

If the cheater is proud perhaps they will shed light on which firm let them in?

Anonymous

It’s a magic circle firm.

Jane

I could not live with myself if I were to cheat. I made 140 applications and had 25 interviews and got a TC (year ago). I would never have cheated. It is how we act that counts, not if we succeed.

Oxford

honestly well done mate! completely agree these tests r bs and the comments r acting like rich kids dont cheat their way through life , using there’s Daddies connections.

(1)(4)

Anonymous

I just don’t understand the cheating – the test is not especially difficult.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

If true this is a serious professional conduct issue and calls into question your suitability to practise

(7)(0)

Anonymous

I’m assuming though that this is just a very good wind up

(1)(0)

SOAS

It’s quite easy to get someone to do these tests for you. Even on our student board we have ads/mini-flyers guaranteed pass for £50. The university has done nothing to remove these. Been up all year.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

Why people pay for this? There are hundreds of sample tests. Just practice a bit and you are fine.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

Practice doesn’t help with these tests. On some I have scored 90% and others 40%. They are ridiculous.

(13)(0)

silver circle trainee

We’ve all cheated at some point. I’ve cheated on my girlfriend twice, cheated on online tests multiple times. Everyone does it.

(20)(21)

Anonymous

Your girlfriend has also cheated on you, buddy.

(24)(7)

silver circle trainee

It is not cheating when I consent to her behaviour and watch (albeit she doesn’t know I am watching).

(10)(2)

Anonymous

mirin

(0)(0)

Anonymous

mirin hard

Martin Luther King Jr. Jr.

If anyone has succeeded in cheating and you are reading this, just know that you are scum with no integrity.

If you would cheat to get in, what would you do to stay?

(17)(4)

Anonymous

quit acting like Lawyers adher to this idealistic bs of ethics etc. There are no morals.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

How is cheating by getting someone else to do the situational judgement test for you any different from getting daddy partner to write or double check your training application for you?

(19)(0)

Anonymous

To be fair – what would be the advantage of daddy-partner check? This guy most likely applied for TC in like 1990s, he has zero idea of how this is done. A current trainee buddy check would be 100% more useful.

(6)(3)

Jamie

What an absolute shambles. Answers available from 26th June and nobody did anything about it for a recruitment exercise starting on 1st July? Looks like the GLP are working with the cream of the crop.

‘The action taken’ was simply to change the order of the same questions and answers on two more occasions. This meant that new keys could be easily worked out. Every time you log in, depending on the application reference (clearly displayed on the form) you use either key 1, 2 or 3. Surprise, surprise, the new keys were flying round to the same recipients within an hour or so of the updates.

Talk about amateur hour. A clear breach of Civil Service guidelines on recruitment, it is the most laughable scenario in living memory.

Looks like the GLP need to sort it out, it’s an abject embarrassment.

(38)(0)

Anonymous

Genuinely need help. I need someone to do my WG test and guarantee a high score. Where can I find someone? Is there a website someone can recommend? Thanks

(6)(6)

Future MC Trainee 2020

I used to do a lot of WG tests for applicants and charge a fee of £100. A lot have gone on to secure training contracts and MC, SC and US firms. You can make serious money by just doing SHL and WG tests for others. January is usually busy and you can easily make £5000+. Most of the applicants are European and Asian.

(7)(3)

Hate cheating, awful stuff

How does one find someone to do their tests? Asking for a friend of course

(6)(1)

Paul

As stated, there will be many people who will already have submitted now guaranteed to meet the cut-off. The way that it was suggested using the key will absolutely guarantee their progress under the radar, as opposed to them scoring 22/22 and looking obvious.

They can of course perform analysis of the scores so far, but as for all Civil Service campaigns, the vast majority of applications are finalised in the last 24-48 hours. Not only will their analysis not be conclusive now, they are not even working on a near complete data set. Even with a full data set, only a whole raft of (otherwise rare) scores of 22 would look out of place.

Comparing data year on year is always inconclusive, because there are so many variables at play, not to mention the ‘practice effects’ of repeated test users.

I would love to see the report that shows how they ‘ensured the ongoing integrity of the process’. That is a quite hilarious proposition to advance, given the evidence.

Guys, it’s already blown.

Whoever is twisting and spinning this, it’s the best performance so far of what sounds like a pretty incompetent crew. Though anyone providing the argument for minimal impact would necessarily be doing so on the basis of a complete lack of evidence.

Simply because it is impossible to say what the impact is. The only facts are that a key for every one of the 3 scenarios is out there and that (numbers unknown) are using it and are free, unchallenged, to use them. That would be enough in anybody’s book to take decisive action.

However given that this was all known on 26th June and it took them until 8th July to take their first action (ahem, rearranging just the question order and not the answer order (whoops), I think we can safely say that some parties in all of this are rather less competent and engaged than others 🙁

The point here is though that there will be hundreds, likely more, who have submitted or who can submit at any time with a passgrade.

And on that basis, the whole stage should be either canned or re-run.

(35)(0)

Anonymous

Could you imagine if someone circulated a fake answer key with the wrong answers to eradicate the competition? What a time to be alive.

(24)(0)

Anonymous

I suspect SRA would still not approve it and ban him/her for life if they find who he/she was.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Assuming it was somebody who entered the profession as a Solicitor. Could be a Barrister or even a Legal Exec.

Also assuming that even establishing involvement could be crystallized into something substantial enough to justify a ‘finding’.

Assuming that the SRA would even have juristiction on the matter, or the powers to act in the first instance.

Agree that they probably wouln’t like it, but I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t and don’t. The salient question is, ‘what could they actually do about it?’ Probably very little.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

A spokesperson for PeopleScout said: “We are investigating the situation…”

Don’t hold your breath for any clear findings to emerge, but I think anyone with any intelligence knows where the buck stops with this one?

– Leaked answers before the campaign even launched

– No action taken for 10 days after being informed

– Solutions that just involved, erm, rearranging the order of firstly the same questions, then the same questions and the answers

How do these jokers keep a straight face???

(33)(0)

Anonymous

Staggering incompetence and failure shown here. Somebody needs to get the sack.

But of course, nobody will!!! They’ll wait until it all blows over and hope that everyone will have forgotten.

What a shame for all those who will have done the test fairly and will be squeezed out at the first hurdle.

What a shame for all those who will be mortified by how our Civil Service now operates. Sending taxpayers money on services provided by people who clearly do not have two morsels of talent to rub together and quite clearly do not care.

Shamefully poor.

(33)(0)

Dean Smart

“… immediate action was taken to ensure the ongoing integrity of the process.”

So Q1: What colour is grass? A – Green, B – Blue, C – Orange, D -Purple

26th June – oh no, someone’s leaked that it’s A – Green

8th July – We’d better tell GLP so they can take immediate action.
Q4: What colour is grass? A – Green. B – Blue, C – Orange, D – Purple

12th July – Oh no, those rascals have worked out that swapping the order of the questions won’t work.

Aha, got it…….

Q9: What colour is grass? A – Blue B – Purple C – Green D – Orange

Yeah, that’ll fox ’em. Change the order of the questions and the answers. Robust and full of Integrity.

Apart from the fact that whoever had the first key, can just work out the rest, however the muppets change the order!

You couldn’t make it up. No wonder the country’s going to pot.

(30)(0)

Anonymous

It’s desperately tragic really. Amazed that the GLP would either sanction this, or not at least challenge it.

Clowns of the highest order.

(18)(0)

Anonymouse Squeak

I think what they’re saying ‘robust’ because (by looking at their website), there are more stages to come.

If they cheat on the first test, do they have the nouse to pass the other tests and an interview?

I doubt it very much.

As they saying goes cheats never prosper.

They may think they will get away with it now but they will get found out eventually.

It will be even worse for them if it’s during the training contract and the SRA gets involved.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Not sure I agree with this entirely and here’s why:

The subsequent test stages use randomized tests administered by providers external to TMP/Peoplescout, the companies who administer the SJT. The questions at these test stages are presented to the candidates randomly from pools of questions that are assessed to measure comparable skills and be of comparable difficulty.

It would be impossible to obtain a key to these later tests, so these would already be ‘robust’ and hitting the mark re. integrity. No action would, could, or needs to be kwith regard to them.

We know however that immediate action was taken by TMP/PeopleScout their own statement) in response to the whole fuss raised regarding the SJT. We further know for certain that changing the order of questions and answers on the SJT, (3 times in the last 10 days) has happened.

So that begs a few questions:

Why was the order changed at all? Why not leave it as it was for the duration of the campaign? The answer can be only that the integrity of the SJT had been compromised and that the re-ordering of questions would make it more robust.

And if what happened on the SJT had a negligible impact on the integrity of the process, would they have changed anything at all? No, of course they wouldn’t.

If the SJT were so unimportant, would the GLP have taken the step to put out a formal statement on their Website, drawing attention to the matter? No, of course they wouldn’t.

It is possible that they have taken additional steps to amend the content of the Assessment Centres, if they feel that these too have been compromised. Granted, that would be a valid step to take.

But I find it hard to believe that the ‘steps’ did not (primarily) refer to the SJT. In which case, given the rapid production of new keys, they manifestly failed to achieve their objective.

And as previous posters have noted, however high the scale of the impact, honest candidates will lose out and dishonest candidates will benefit. And that, given the fact that this could have been sorted at an early stage with some brand new questions from the outset, is the tragedy.

This process CANNOT therefore be deemed to be either FAIR or appointing on MERIT.

A shame, and an irony, that the GLP needs to be reminded so starkly of its own legal obligations.

(21)(0)

Frankly Disgusted

In a way I’d like to thank this site for making me realise I don’t want want to be a solicitor. Not because of the work, but because of who I’ll have to work with.

I think I can just about put up with the inflated egos you all possess, but I draw the line here.
This is a career where you are professionally obligated to be honest. The insolence you have to have in order to gain employment through cheating is marked. More so if you try to defend your actions or brag about them. You are a bad person.

It took a while, but I finally understand why people have a low opinion of lawyers.

(13)(3)

Anonymous

The posters here are not representative of the profession. I rarely meet anybody who would or does express the views that are expressed anonymously here even in private.

In general the lawyers that I meet are decent, hardworking and honest. It is astonishing that anybody would not think that this sort of dishonesty is acceptable. I would be surprised if the regulators would not take this extremely seriously.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

The moment the SRA get some names, I am sure they will look to take 5 figures per person, and life time bans.

Winter is coming.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

hahah cool troll

(1)(0)

Winston

Too right…..any Tom, Dick or Haris can flex thei…..the state’s muscles for their own malign intent (which when given light is likely to be at complete odds with what supposedly the facilitating entity stands for and gives them their high horsedness)

I am sure the person who was on the receiving end of what you have described was completely hopeless but this sort of interference probably guarantees it.

As for the Government Legal Profession, it will be interesting if developments such as the prorogation of Parliament raise the stakes considerably in terms of the constitutional position.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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