Assessing your potential for a specific job requires considering not only your interests, experience and training, but also your natural aptitudes and strengths. Aptitude and personality tests can reveal everything from your proficiency in math or communication to your ability to lead others. While they can help point you in the right direction, they don’t necessarily dictate your future or predict your performance, and work best if used as a starting point in evaluating your skills.
What They Measure
You can find an assessment test for nearly every skill or quality you’d like to evaluate. An IQ test, for example, measures your natural cognitive ability, including problem-solving and reasoning skills. An aptitude test evaluates specific subjects, such as math, science or communication. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), an aptitude test administered by the U.S. military, includes eight tests and is frequently given to high school students to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses. Personality tests identify traits such as introversion and extroversion, and can help you determine factors such as if you work better in a group setting or on your own.
If you’re not sure what type of career you’d like to pursue, testing can help you narrow down your choices. You might discover, for example, that you feel more satisfied when given a position of authority. Instead of considering low-profile jobs, you might decide to focus on leadership and management positions. Aptitude, personality and other assessment tests can also help you once you’ve identified a primary field of interest. If you’re drawn to a science career, for example, seek out tests that focus on scientific, mathematic and problem-solving abilities.
Interpreting Your Score
Each type of test uses a different scoring system, so you’ll need to understand the science and methodology behind the one you take before you can apply the results. Some use a percentile, such as the military’s ASVAB. If you receive a 95 percent in a specific area, such as arithmetic reasoning, this means you scored higher than 95 percent of people who took the test. The Scholastic Aptitude Test, most commonly used as a college entrance exam, follows a point-based system. You can receive up to 800 points in each of the test’s three sections. This score indicates your proficiency in each subject, but does not compare you to fellow test-takers.
Aptitude and personality tests only work if you answer each question completely. Hcareers.com recommends using the first reply that comes to mind when considering the question. Also, these tests only measure ability and not interest, so even if you score high in an area, you might not enjoy doing it day after day. In addition, most of these tests cover only limited areas. An IQ test can shed light on your ability to process information, for example, but won’t reveal that you have a gift for creative thinking.
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