How Do I Prepare for a Test?

What Is a Clinical Psychology Test?

Becoming a Clinical Psychologist is not an easy task. Unsurprisingly for a position of such responsibility, the application and training processes are rigorous. As such, the route to getting accepted onto a trainee program is one that will require much preparation.

In fact, the competition for trainee Clinical Psychology programs is so high that just 15% of all applicants will secure a place in one of the 30 UK-based programs.

It goes without saying that you will need an exceptional academic record and relevant work experience to make you eligible to apply for one of the training programs, but you will also need to pass the short-listing tests and interviews in order to be accepted – your qualifications and experience will not be enough on their own.

Such a rigorous application process can be overwhelming for potential candidates, and some may even apply multiple times before success. However, if you apply the same rigour to your preparation practice in the run-up to the tests, you are much more likely to achieve the results you need.

The resources and practice tests provided by Job Test Prep can give you the opportunity to prepare fully and offer the peace of mind that goes hand in hand with good preparation.

Each university will have the freedom to choose its own set of tests as part of its application process, and so the format may vary slightly between educational establishments.

There will, however, be similarities across the board – it is worth doing your research to establish the components of the application process for your chosen university in order to help you practice and prepare more efficiently.

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What Tests Might I Encounter Becoming a Clinical Psychologist?

There will be a variety of stages to the application process and the tests that you are likely to encounter. These are as follows:

SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

To succeed in the field of psychology, you will need to be able to comprehend and understand a wide range of material. You will need to be able to analyse data logically and avoid jumping to conclusions or misinterpreting what you have read.

Practices change, and what may be true today might not necessarily apply tomorrow. Some of the information you will be required to interpret could be complex in nature – such as that found in health journals. It is vital that you are able to process the information objectively and logically.

The NHS Trainee Clinical Program SHL Verbal Reasoning Test is presented in a multiple choice format, and there are 30 questions to be answered within a 19-minute timeframe. You will be required to read a series of intricate texts and then answer questions using true, false or cannot say.

  • True – This means that the given statement is in agreement with the information presented in the text. You’ll need to highlight the passage in the text that logically follows the points in the given statement.
  • False – In this case, the given statement does not logically follow the information presented in the text.
  • Cannot say – In this instance, you would need more information to determine if the statements could logically follow the text content.

A sample question:


India’s economy grew faster than estimated last quarter, maintaining pressure on the central bank to extend its record interest-rate increases even as the global recovery weakens. Stocks, bond yields and the rupee advanced.

Gross domestic product rose 7.7 per cent in the three months ended June 30 from a year earlier, the Central Statistical Office said in New Delhi today. That compares with a 7.8 per cent climb in the previous three months.

The median of 26 predictions in a Bloomberg News survey was for a 7.6 per cent gain. India’s consumption has “remained strong” because of higher salaries, and inflation may remain “stubborn” in the near term, the Reserve Bank of India said last week.

By contrast, growth has cooled in other Asian nations such as Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia as a faltering U.S. recovery and Europe’s debt crisis curb demand for the region’s exports.


The United States and Europe have not been importing from Taiwan as much as they used to.

What is the truth value of the statement?

True False Cannot say

SHL Deductive Reasoning Test

In this test, your logical thinking skills will be under assessment. The test contains around 20 questions and usually takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.

Your test results will not only be measured by the score that you achieve, but also by the speed, accuracy, and alertness with which you answered. This being the case, it is vital that you are adequately practised prior to the test to ensure that you are as accurate and efficient as you can possibly be when answering the questions.

Understanding the style of questions that you are likely to face will significantly improve your performance on the day.

Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

SJTs are used by many organisations in a range of disciplines and fields to better understand you as a person, how you might react in work situations and your suitability for a chosen role.

Since 2013, the SJT for the NHS Trainee Clinical Psychology Program has been used as a standard test for applicants and was developed by the Work Psychology Group. It is possible for the test to be administered in a written or online format; it may even be undertaken in video format.

The test will assess how you respond in hypothetical situations that are closely related to a scenario that you are likely to face in your chosen role. You will read a statement that describes a work-based scenario, and then you will be asked to select which response to the given problem you would choose.

Base your answer on what you consider to be the best way to deal with the events outlined.

Whilst you should answer questions honestly, it is also wise to consider what responses examiners are looking for and how these answers will represent your personality traits and suitability for the role. Learning the techniques to find the best responses will definitely give you a competitive edge.

Working in clinical psychology – As in most healthcare roles – you will be required to demonstrate advanced cognitive abilities. The NHS Trainee Clinical SJT will measure the following abilities:

  • Communication – Dealing with other wards within the healthcare setting and how you are able to relate to other healthcare or nursing staff.
  • Teamwork – How are you able to support colleagues and also accept help in return?
  • Job Pressures – Healthcare can be a stressful occupation. There may be times when you are faced with angry patients or relatives, when you may have to accept your own mistakes or make difficult decisions in stressful conditions.
  • Professionalism – Are you able to keep codes of confidentiality or identify inappropriate conversations between colleagues and patients? Are you committed to your own continuing professional development?
  • Patient-focused – Do you have natural empathy? Are you able to understand the many varied needs of your patients and display care and understanding in addressing those needs?

Written Tests

Writing is a fundamental part of any physician’s work role. Writing can take the form of prescriptions, instructions to staff or colleagues, reports or clinical reviews. It is, therefore crucial that you are articulate and literate and that you are able to use concise and appropriate wording in your written work.

The writing scenarios given in this part of the assessment process will relate to real-life situations. It is important that you are able to take notes to create a broad overview for each section of your writing and that you are able to adhere to word limits, delivering your information concisely and accurately.

It is also crucial that you are able to convey empathy in your writing, especially if delivering some unexpected or unpleasant news. Whilst it is important to deliver the facts, it is just as important that you deliver those facts with tact and understanding. Understanding your audience is a huge component of effective writing. 

How Do I Apply for a Clinical Doctorate?

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Once you have applied to your chosen university, there is likely to be some form of short-listing test. If you pass this, then you will be invited to sit the relevant aptitude tests.

Make sure that you take the time to practise, practise and practise some more! Sit the relevant tests at home under test conditions to ensure that you enter the real test with calm confidence. Being well prepared will help to reduce any uncertainty or anxiety you have by removing the threat of the unknown.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is key. Making sure you work to utilise or overcome these will enable you to answer questions efficiently and accurately. Using the comprehensive resources provided by Job Test Prep will mean that you are much more likely to pass your test with flying colours!

Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organizations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.