TO: Magistrate Advisory Council

William R. Neill, Deputy Director, CJAD

FROM: Mark E. Bolte, Psy.D., Chief Psychologist, LEAPS


RE: Study Aids for the Magistrate Eligibility Exam

South Carolina Code Ann. § 22-2-5 © (Supp. 2000) requires the court administration in cooperation with the technical school system to develop an optional magistrate eligibility examination preparatory course.  In response to this requirement, Mr. Neill and Dr. Bolte were asked to survey the commercially available materials that would assist in improving the test taking skills and problem analysis of magistrate candidates.  To this end, I have reviewed the following materials and would recommend their use as study aids for the Magistrate Eligibility Exam.

I. Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT)

Because this is a test of general intelligence it does not lend itself to a study aid or other preparatory materials.  However, successful examinees will need at least a sixth grade reading level, knowledge of basic mathematics, how to tell time, days of the week and months of the year, and a basic knowledge of the U. S. monetary units and the U. S. Customary System of weights and measures.  Successful applicants will not only demonstrate a suitable level of learning ability, but also a mastery of fundamental basic skills.

If a magistrate candidate believes that he/she lacks any of the above fundamental skills, they may be referred to the following list of resources:

II. Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA)
According to the authors, the ability to think critically is viewed as a composite of attitudes, knowledge and skills.  This composite includes: (1) attitudes of inquiry that involve an ability to recognize the existence of problems and an acceptance of the general need for evidence in support of what is asserted to be true; (2) knowledge of the nature of valid inferences, abstractions, and generalizations in which the weight or accuracy of different kinds evidence are logically determined; and (3) skills in employing and applying the above attitudes and knowledge.

The WGCTA is comprised of the following five subtests:

Inference: Discriminating among degrees of truth or falsity of inferences drawn from given data.

Recognition of Assumptions: Recognizing unstated assumptions or presuppositions in given statements or assertions.

Deduction: Determining whether certain conclusions necessarily follow from information in given statements or premises.

Interpretation: Weighing evidence and deciding if generalizations or conclusions based on the given data are warranted.

Evaluation of Arguments: Distinguishing between arguments that are strong and relevant and those that are weak or irrelevant to a particular question at issue.

Study resources for critical thinking skills may include: