How to Become a Train Driver – Passing the Group Bourdon Test

Train driver

Looking to become a train driver? Find out the best hints and tips for passing the infamous dots test, the Group Bourdon Test.

If you are looking to become a train driver in the UK, regardless of which train operating company (TOC) you apply for, you will have to pass the notorious “Group Bourdon Test.” The test popularly known as the “dots test” is a test designed to assess the ability of a candidate to concentrate on a repetitive task under pressure. While the test itself is simple, this element of the assessment centre has a high rate of failure, but which with a little practise can be overcome.

What is the Group Bourdon Test?

The Group Bourdon Test is also referred to as the dots test for the simple reason that candidates are given a series of five pages of paper or screens of information, each containing a matrix of dots arranged in groups of 3, 4, 5 and 6. The candidate is then given an unspecified amount of time to work through the matrix as quickly as possible, crossing out each group which contains four dots.

Candidates start with page or screen one and after an unspecified amount of time the invigilator will shout “change” and candidates are required to move onto the next page or screen. Marks are awarded for speed and accuracy, in this case the more groups of four dots crossed out the higher the mark. However, candidates are also penalised for marking incorrect answers so accuracy as well as speed is essential.

Passing the Group Bourdon Test – Tips, Tricks and Things to Look Out For

While many candidates fail this test, the format is the same for every train operating company and has not changed in recent years. This means that it is at least possible to know exactly what to expect on the day of the assessments. Here are some tips and elements to look out for:

  • Group Pattern – Many of the groups of four dots are in a square pattern. However, some are in an irregular pattern such as a tick or a Y shape, try to keep this in mind as it will improve accuracy as well as speed in the test.
  • Group Size – Be prepared for the size of the groups of dots to reduce as you work through the pages, this can come as a distraction at first, especially if unexpected.
  • Comfort – While the test itself is a mental one, it is surprising how physically demanding the test can be on both the eyes and arms. Make sure that you are comfortable before starting the test; wearing glasses if required; and having arms free to work quickly through the sheets of the test booklet.
  • Focus – It sounds obvious but try to focus upon the task and do not worry about the time or how well you are doing. There are few candidates who will ever complete a full page of the test and the writer from personal experience passed the test without completing more than half of any one panel of dots.
  • Practise – There are many online resources and books available which can help a candidate to prepare for the test. A particularly good resource is groupbourdontests which has a number of practise examples.

So if looking to become a train driver in the UK, the Group Bourdon test is one which you must pass. While the test has a high rate of failure, practise and a little familiarisation should mean that you don’t fall at this stage of the process.