Aptitude Tests - How Reliable Are They?

Published: 26th September 2008
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An aptitude test is a test designed to measure the possibility of you succeeding at something. For example, many high school students take an aptitude test that is supposed to measure how well they will succeed in college.

The way the accuracy of the aptitude test is measured is by comparing the scores of students with the grade point average they have in college. This is called a correlation - the measurement of a relationship between two scores. It is important to note that aptitude tests may not be particularly accurate predictors of success.

The reason these tests may not be so accurate is due to the nature of 'objective' testing, where students are presented with a series of multiple choice questions. Multiple choice questions do not necessarily represent the ability of a person to do something. For example, a multiple choice question about a particular grammatical point may not mean that the test taker understands any other point of grammar. Reading a passage and then answering questions about it does not really represent a person's ability to read.

Another aspect of aptitude tests that it is important to understand the concept of being norm-referenced. That means that when the test was created, it was given to a large sample group, which becomes the 'norm' against which all other test takers are measured. Statistically speaking, test creators expect the distribution of test scores to fall on a 'bell curve'. That means that the majority of the test takers will make an average score and that increasingly smaller groups of people will make significantly higher or lower scores.

Your test score will be reported in terms of a 'craw score' and then a number that is how you fit in relation to the bell curve. There is also something called a 'standard deviation'. This is a measure of how big a variation there is in relation to the average. So, if there is a large variation from the average - for example, if the average is 100 and there is a large range of scores, then the standard deviation is large. For example, on some IQ tests, the average is 100 and the standard deviation is 16. That means the majority of people, 68% in fact, have scores that fall between 84 and 116. If your score is more than one standard deviation from the average, then you fall into a more elite group (or a less elite group, depending on the direction of the score).

To sum up - tests are often required, but not necessarily accurate measurements of your ability to succeed. Your ability to succeed is more determined by your desire to be successful and your willingness to work.

To take a closer look at how these tests work, visit VideoJug.com and watch experts being interviewed on the subject of Aptitude Testing.

Video Source: Youtube

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