Public Health Specialty Training, Watson-Glaser Test, SJT and RANRA Tests Practice

Are you applying for Public Health Specialty Training? The application to be accepted on the programme is challenging, the standard required is extremely high, and you have to excel at each stage to be accepted on the course. This article will guide you through the process stage by stage highlighting resources available to help you prepare.
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The Faculty for Public Health is the standard setting body for specialists in public health. The Public Health Specialty has tough eligibility requirements that you must meet before you can even start your application. In order to receive a place on the programme, you must provide a high quality application at each stage, and be better than your fellow applicants.

The stages of the application process are:

There are training programmes available across the country, and two main routes in - a clinical route for medical professionals, and an alternative route for public health professionals. The two courses are the same once you are on the programme. Elements of the person specification are tested at each stage of the application process. Applicants should be familiar with public health concepts and issues, and the public health policy arena.

Online Application Form

Applications for the 2014 programme are now closed, and will reopen towards the end of 2014. The application form asks for your qualifications, experience, and evidence of how you fit the criteria in the person specification for the programme.

Questions on the application form can include:

  • How do your skills and attributes demonstrate you as a suitable candidate for a higher career in this field?
  • What efforts have you made recently to further your knowledge of this specialty - what have you learned from this and how do you feel it has developed your suitability for this particular specialty?
  • Give an example where you found it difficult to understand the concerns of a patient or carer. What impact did this have and what feedback did you receive as a result?
  • Describe a time when you needed to communicate with people who had differing levels of understanding about the situation - what strategies did you use to adapt and how did you know your approach was successful or not?
  • Describe a recent experience of working in a multi-disciplinary team where a challenging clinical situation was apparent. What approach did you take in this situation and how did your behaviour enable the team to overcome the situation?

Assessment Tests

If your application form meets the requirements, you are next invited to sit three tests at a PearsonVue assessment centre. Assessment centres are available across the UK, and in five European cities. The tests are aimed at measuring your numerical reasoning, critical thinking, and situational judgement abilities.

The tests are:

Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal

The Watson-Glaser critical thinking appraisal is designed to measure your ability to think critically about information placed before you. The process of critical thinking involves interpreting information thoroughly and carefully, and thinking about its application to reach justifiable conclusions. This test will last 30 minutes at the test centre.

You are tested on five abilities in a Watson-Glaser test:

  • Drawing inferences - how you draw conclusions from facts.
  • Recognising assumptions - the ability to assess whether a statement is justifiable based on an assumption given.
  • Deductive reasoning - how you weigh information to decide whether conclusions are correct.
  • Logical interpretation - how you understand the weighting of different arguments given a particular question or issue.
  • Argument evaluation - ability to distinguish between strong and weak arguments. A strong argument is important and relevant to the question.

The Watson-Glaser test is a complicated test to take, and one which is different to other tests you may have taken in the past. Practising for the test enables you sharpen your skills, improve your techniques for answering questions and increase your confidence when it comes to taking the test.

JobTestPrep have developed Watson-Glaser practice packs that can help you achieve these aims.

RANRA - Rust Advanced Numerical Reasoning Appraisal

The RANRA test aims to measure your numerical reasoning skills. This test is usually found in conjunction with the Watson-Glaser test. The RANRA is not your usual maths test. This test will examine your deduction, analysis and interpretation skills. You need to make decisions based on analysis of numerical data. You must identify the most important information from numerical facts and apply quick mathematical shortcuts to reach a solution.

There are two parts to the RANRA test. The first section is a comparison of quantities, where you are given two quantities and a statement, and four possible answers. The second is a sufficiency of information test. You are given two statements followed by a question. You then have to pick one of five possible solutions based on the information available to you. You are given 40 minutes to complete the test. As with the other tests, practice enables you to improve your score when you go to the assessment centre.

 JobTestPrep have developed RANRA practice packs to help you with your preparation. Find out more about the RANRA.

Public Health Situational Judgement Test

The public health SJT is designed especially for Public Health Specialty Training to assess the personal and professional skills that you need in public health. The test is particularly focussed on the non-academic, personal and professional competencies needed in public health. The SJT measures your judgement in response to situations that you may come across in the workplace. You are given a set of hypothetical scenarios and asked to make judgements against possible responses. The SJT has a total of 50 questions to answer in 100 minutes.

There are two parts to the test. In part 1, each scenario is followed by five possible response options. You need to rank the responses according to their appropriateness in response to the circumstances described in the scenario. In part 2 you are presented with scenarios and a list of possible options. For each scenario, you must choose the three options which together are the most appropriate response to the situation given the circumstances in the scenario.

Your score is a tally of all correct answers, so you will get a better score by answering as many questions as possible. You can prepare for the test by reviewing the person specification of the types of people they are looking for to take part in the programme. And you can also benefit from practising how to take a situational judgement test, and think about your approach to scenarios.

Learn more about the SJT with JobTestPrep’s SJT pages and practice tests.

Selection Centre

The selection centre is a half day session containing three main exercises. These exercises test you against all the requirements listed in the person specification. The selection centre is held in Loughborough for all candidates.
Activities at the selection centre are:

The NHS advise that you know the following at the start of your application, and which may well come in useful for the selection centre:

  • What are your top six skills?
  • What are your work values?
  • What type of work do you prefer?
  • What sort of environment do you want to work in?
  • What is your career plan now, and for the next five years?


The interview is really a set of short interviews, in “steeplechase format”. You will move from one short interview to another in a row. In all you will be interviewed by six panels, each interview lasting around 10 minutes. Each interview is on a different topic, and you are moved around by a timed buzzer. All stations follow a structure: they will ask you a specific set of questions, on which they may then ask you for more information through supplementary questions.

Questions in the interviews can be situational based questions, experience based questions, or questions about other tasks at the assessment centre. Example questions include:

  • What would you do in such a situation?
  • What are your thoughts on audit and research?

The interviewers are looking for evidence that you understand public health and the current issues, and that you have demonstrated the key competencies in the past. Don’t forget to provide this evidence in each of your answers. You may benefit from preparing examples ahead of the selection centre, and organising your answers using the STAR method. For more information about the STAR method, see JobTestPrep’s website, here. Taking part in a mock interview ahead of the selection day can also help you in the real thing. A mock interview is particularly useful for some of the things they are looking for, including how you answer the question they have asked, rather than the question you have prepared, or increase your confidence in your answer. JobTestPrep offer Skype based interviews which provide this mock interview experience, as well as the added bonus of feedback which can help you sharpen your technique ahead of the interview itself.

Written Test

The written test will assess your qualitative and quantitative analytic skills. This written test can follow a number of formats including analysing a list of situations to rank and provide an order for completion, based on the order of importance. You may also be asked to provide reasons for your choices on the list. You can prepare for an exercise like this, and other forms of written exercise using JobTestPrep’s written exercises preparation pack.

Group Exercise

The aim of this exercise is to test how you interact in a team. The group may be asked to discuss a challenging or contentious situation. You are given written instructions setting out what the assessors are looking for you to achieve as a group. You may be given an individual task or perspective to convey to the group, which you will be assessed on . You are also being examined on your ability to engage and relate with others, communicate, problem solve, organise and plan. How you talk to the group, the quality of your inputs, and how you engage others within the group are also being assessed. Thinking about these points in advance, and rehearsing your strategies will help you on the day. JobTestPrep offer group exercise training which can help you on the day.

In Summary

Competition for places is tough- with 400-500 eligible applicants competing for 60-80 spaces a year. As a result it is important that you do all you can to improve your application. Practising tests, and preparing for the assessment centre will help you improve your performances on the day. In this article we have highlighted the resources available to you. We hope you have found this useful. Good luck.

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"These were vital to understanding why errors were made and thus ensure improvements."
January 2015, Consultant in Public Health Training
"I felt that your resources really did help me to focus on my test preparation. Particularly I found the videos helpful, as well as being able to time the tests. The general advice for each of the different sections was very helpful. Thanks."
Public Health Specialty, February 2015

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