How To Prepare for Group Bourdon Test? – Ultimate Study Guide

If you are hoping to become a train driver, you will have to take several different tests, including the Group Bourdon Test. As being a train driver involves being responsible for the lives of others, the test is rigorous and can be difficult to pass.

But if the test is coming your way, don’t stress. With proper preparation, you will soon know what to expect from the test, as well as how to stay calm and pass with flying colours.

Take the Group Bourdon Practice Test to improve your score.

Read on for an in-depth guide on what the Group Bourdon Test is, what it involves, and the best ways to prepare.

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What is the Group Bourdon Test (GBT)?

The Group Bourdon Test or GBT is the primary assessment employers use to select the best applicants wishing to secure a career as a train driver. The GBT, sometimes known as a dot test, is used for jobs that require uninterrupted concentration over long periods of time.

As a train driver, it is crucial that you are not easily distracted. So, you must know how to concentrate and focus on your safety as well as that of your passengers. Potential employers will want to ensure that you are ready for this huge responsibility.

The GBT assesses your visual perception, concentration, and conscientiousness. These are skills that you will need to use as a great train driver.

A low score on the test indicates that you are more likely to do something called SPAD (Signal Passed At Danger). SPAD basically means passing a red light at speed, and this is, of course, a very undesirable trait for a train driver.

The focus of the test is on the capability of the applicant to concentrate and identify a pattern from a given set of patterns. There is a strong emphasis on both speed and accuracy. The parent set of patterns is often deliberately repetitive. Therefore, it can prove overwhelming.

Remember that you will not take this test on a computer.

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Is the Group Bourdon Test hard?

The GBT is a highly challenging test. Test takers have to complete it in very strict time conditions. So, if you are unprepared, you will not likely succeed. In fact, the Group Bourdon Test sees a large number of failures among its applicants.

While this can be daunting, you can use proper test prep packs online to your advantage. For example, Job Test Prep can provide you with the resources to ensure that you are not one of those failed candidates.

Train Driver Application Process

Typically there are four stages to the application process:

1. Application form

The first stage of the application process is completing your form online.  Surprisingly, the vast majority of applicants actually fail at this stage. So, take your time in answering the form. Demonstrate that you have qualities vital to the role.

Some of the things that can help you are evidence of high customer service performance and experience in high-pressure or stressful work conditions. Make sure that your CV is accurate and up-to-date. Provide your relevant qualifications, educational attainment, and work history.

2. Assessment Centre

Once you have passed the application form stage, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre.

Here you will be required to undertake a number of psychometric tests, including:

  • Concentration tests such as the Group Bourdon Test
  • Communications exercises
  • Ability tests
  • Awareness and recognition tests
  • Observational ability tests
  • Vigilance tests
  • Situational judgement tests

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3.  Manager’s Interview

All train driver applicants are expected to sit for a manager’s interview, which is done at the assessment centre. During this interview, make sure you show the interviewers that you are skilled and you have the right attitude for the role.

4.  Medical Tests & Vetting

You will undergo medical and fitness assessments to ensure that you can carry out your new role safely.

If you are successful at all four stages of the application process, you will receive a formal offer to enrol on the trainee program before qualifying as a train driver.

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What Makes a Good Train Driver?

The role of a train driver is a safety-critical role. So, there are strict guidelines and rules in place that you must follow. Train Operating Companies will only employ people who take the safety role seriously.

What skills are they looking for?

  • Can maintain high levels of concentration for lengthy periods.
  • Can do customer service responsibilities such as using onboard PA systems to keep travellers informed and maintaining good customer relations.
  • Flexibility to respond to a change in circumstances calmly and logically.
  • Can work as part of a large team, involving many members such as ticket staff and caterers
  • Can collaborate and work harmoniously with others

During the interview, remember the STAR Method:

S – Describe the SITUATION you were involved in (Be honest. Lying can just lead to disastrous results)

T – Explain what TASK you had to perform and also any tasks that others had to undertake.

A – Describe the ACTION you took (include any actions of others in your team as well). Try to use examples when you took initiative instead of just following instructions.

R – Explain the RESULT of your actions and the positive outcomes they produced.

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What is the Format of the Group Bourdon Test?

The GBT consists of five adjacent boxes arranged in twenty-five columns. Each box within the columns holds a set of dots arranged in patterns of three to six dots. Working from left to right through each row, you must cross out any boxes that contain a pattern of four dots.

You will work through one page at a time. However, you can only complete each page within two minutes. If you do not complete the page within the time limit, you will be forced to move to the next one.

As with similar tests, there is a practice section at the beginning of the actual test. However, it is not advised to leave your practice until the day of the test as chances of success will be very low.

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How Do You Pass the Group Bourdon Test?

Know the format

The test may appear to be quite simple upon initial inspection, but the sheer quantity of boxes containing almost identical patterns can very quickly play tricks on your eyes and your brain. It is essential that you are familiar with the visual format of the test and that you have had lots of practice to interpret the data quickly and accurately.

You only have two minutes per page, and this means that there will be no time to go back and check your answers or to make any corrections. The more the test goes on, the harder it will be to concentrate. Preparation to improve your concentration and stamina will give you an advantage here.

Time the test well

It is unlikely that you will be able to finish all the rows on a page within the allotted time, so it is vital that you have rehearsed your timings. It is reported that very few people actually complete the whole test. For example, if you take half a second to scan each box in a row that means that it will take you approximately 15 seconds to check all 25 boxes.

You only have 120 seconds to complete the page, so it would be much better to make sure to find the four dot patterns and get every answer right for seven or eight rows than attempting ten rows and making mistakes in six of them.

Practice, practice, practice

The more you practice, the better your brain will become at scanning and processing the information given. The more times you do the test beforehand, the quicker you will be able to scan entire rows. The four dot patterns should start to really stand out from the other similar patterns, but this will take dedication and lots of preparation on your part.

You will need to be able to focus and concentrate, but over time, you should definitely start to see your practice test scores improve. Knowing what the patterns of dots will look like in advance of the test, and being really familiar with the different patterns you could encounter, will give you a better chance of passing the assessment.

Making sure that you scan from left to right and mark your chosen cells immediately will ensure that you save time and maintain accuracy. It is not advisable to finish the row and then make your mark, but you should only move to a new row once the current row is finished. Practice the test under timed exam conditions each time to ensure that you are adequately prepared.

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How is the Group Bourdon Test marked?

The test is scored under three categories with a number of marks for each category. Knowing the different variables of the score report will help you prepare and also enable you to understand what you need to practice.

Category one: Perception and attention

In this section of the report, there are two parts: targets omitted and those marked incorrect. These sections look at the accuracy with which you spotted the required information. The marked incorrect section is equally as important because you lose marks for wrong answers.

Category two – Speed

This section will calculate how many clicks you made in the 10 minutes of the test. You will receive scores for total cells, mean cell time, median cell time, completed row, mean row time, and median row time. Your scores suggest that the quicker you do the test, the better. However, it is important to remember that you also lose marks for incorrect answers.

Category three – Vigilance

In this category, you are assessed on the consistency of your speed throughout the test – that is, how your times fluctuated from row to row. In this category, you are aiming for the lowest score possible.

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Final Thoughts

Being a train driver is a secure and well-respected career. However, the competition for this job is fierce and the application process is arduous. Train Operating Companies are duty-bound to ensure that their assessment processes are rigorous enough to ensure that they find and employ only the very best candidates. After all, they need to maintain high standards regarding public safety and customer service.

Job Test Prep can provide you with the resources and practice tests you will need to make sure that you are successful. The GBT is definitely not the kind of test that you can pass with luck. Failure rates are high. So, being well-prepared is your best chance to outshine your competitors and secure your perfect career!

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Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organisations 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.