What is Aptitude Assessment?
that two persons of equal intelligence have the same opportunities to learn a job or develop a skill. They attend the same
on-the-job training or classes, study the same material, and practice the same length of time. One of them acquires the knowledge
or skill easily; the other has difficulty and takes more time, if they ever master the skill. These two people differ in aptitude
for this type of work or skill acquisition.
Aptitude is variously defined as innate learning ability, the specific
ability needed to facilitate learning a job, aptness, knack, suitability, readiness, tendency, natural or acquired
disposition or capacity for a particular activity, or innate component of a competency.
are used to predict success or failure in an undertaking. For vocational/career guidance and planning they are used to
measure different aptitudes such as general learning ability, numerical ability, verbal ability, spatial perception,
and clerical perception. Objective aptitude tests are based on timed sub-tests - results are compared to age-group norms or
other criteria - as opposed to self-report inventories of abilities often found in computerized career exploration systems.
For helping a person find and pursue a career, course of study, or work experience program; aptitude assessment should logically
precede achievement testing or skills assessment.
History of Aptitude Assessment
Aptitude Test Battery, or G.A.T.B . was developed by the U.S. Employment Service with extensive reseach in the 1930's and
implemented by the U.S.E.S. from 1942 to 1947. The G.A.T.B. was used through to the 1990's for both job
screening and career guidance. Other aptitude tests such as APTICOM began to appear in the 1980's. APTICOM is a dedicated-computer
replacement for the G.A.T.B. - developed with a U.S. Department of Labor grant by the Vocational Research Institute. In 1995,
a PC and MacIntosh-based version of APTICOM was developed by VRI - called CareerScope®. The U.S. Department of Labor has
attempted to replace the G.A.T.B. with the O*NET Ability Profiler, to be used with its new O*Net occupational classification
system. Privately developed assessments such as CareerScope® already link with the O*Net system. A completely internet-delivered
version of interest and aptitude assessment, called CareerScope Online®, became available in fall 2009.
vs. "Skills Gap" Testing
APTITUDE & SKILLS TESTS = APPLES & ORANGES
An Interest and Aptitude assessment like CareerScope helps to objectively clarify what you would like to do and
would likely succeed in. It is used to objectively plan for future learning and work. It is an objective career
A skills test tells you what you can do now, given your previous learning. If you have
not had much previous learning, it can only tell you that you lack skills - but not your potential or what your innate strengths
are. Despite its backward focus, skills assessments are often used as a screening test for employers
(incumbent scores provide a criterion reference) and as a prescriptive test for educators (or, perhaps more often, the
skills assessment vendors' on-line training programs).
Using a skills assessment as a screening tool can help
find the best applicant, but there can be dire consequences for using the wrong test, or using the test wrong. The US
Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance found in 2012 that using a pre-employment test called WorkKeys
to select hires for on-call laborer positions resulted in discrimination against African-American job applicants and applicants
of Asian and Hispanic descent. This resulted in a $550,000 settlement. More information at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/ofccp/OFCCP20121443.htm.
Even for helping individuals find a job or enter training, a skills assessment usually requires
analyzing the requirements of individual local jobs to determine their requirements, testing the incumbents, assessing individual
applicants to determine "skills gaps," and then, ideally, providing training to close those gaps.
kinds of assessments are useful (as are both apples and oranges, but you can eat an apple right out of the box, and make more
things out of it - like apple pie and apple sauce, etc.). Assessing aptitude and interest first will help focus
the job seeker, make the comparative skills testing and any subsequent training more likely to produce a trained worker who
is more likely to stay on the job. Also, CareerScope can be taken with only a fourth grade reading ability. Skills
tests typically require a higher reading level. A white paper that addresses the combination of using an interest/aptitude
assessment first, followed by skills testing, can be seen at http://www.usotalent.org/NR/rdonlyres/000038c2/guqhuvmgzkbbluretvmqmzeknnaqdnpy/Effective_Tools_For_Workforce_Assesment11.pdf.
Some argue that Skills become obsolete - but not Aptitudes.
Aptitude vs. Achievement Testing
tests are used to predict success in a career path or course of study. Achievement tests are designed to measure how much
a person has already achieved or learned in academic knowledge. Achievement testing is becoming ever more important as the
accountability increases to prove that students are learning. But for guidance, aptitude might be a better measure for showing
potential. For instance, a student who has not learned "the basics" in primary and secondary education - for any
number of reasons - can still have the "aptitude" to do well in a career and related studies - especially if they
are interested - although they might have some catching up to do academically.
Aptitude vs. IQ Testing
might be thought of as separate types of intelligence, each perhaps having relative strength or weakness
in an individual. This can be of high value for determining what training or career to pursue. Intelligence
Quotient (IQ) is usually seen as one score summarizing a person's overall intelligence based on a broad range of abilities.
An IQ score will indicate that you are smart, average, or not smart, but it is not a precise tool for career guidance.
Two people with the same IQ might have very different scores for their individual aptitudes. The GATB-related
score for general learning ability, or "G" score, is correlated to IQ score, but is not considered to be the
same. The G score, in this case, is an aptitude score based on three aptitude subtests: pattern recognition, numerical
reasoning, and word meanings. A person who scores very high on pattern recognition and numerical reasoning, but
low on word meanings, might have a high G score . . . but because of their low verbal aptitude, or "V" score,
a career counselor or automated career guidance system would not point them toward language-intensive occupations.
A similar high IQ score, by itself, would not indicate whether a person is strong or weak in verbal ability, and language-intensive
occupations would seem as viable as any other.
Aptitude vs. Attitude
Although it might sound
counterintuitive to some, there are indications that attitude can outweigh aptitude in determining whether skills are attained.
While marketing skills assessment to the business community, many educators have heard employers say something to the equivalent
of, "just give me a person with the right attitude, who will show up and stay on the job, and we'll train them."
A study entitled Attitude versus Aptitude, by Côté and Levine, published in the Journal of Adolescent Research,
found that motivation was a better predictor than IQ for skills acquisition. You can assess these attitudinal soft skills with
tools like the Employment Inventory to find students or workers who will work hard and stay on the job longer, but it still stands to reason that you would
be far better off with a student or job candidate who aligns their aptitudes, interests, and existing skills with the job
goal, in addition to having good attitude.
Combining Interest and Aptitude for Guidance
results of an interest assessment can be combined with aptitude results to show types of work that a person would most likely
enjoy and perform well. Two models of interest groupings supported by the U.S. Department of Labor: the six "Holland"
type codes and the 12 "Guide for Occupational Exploration" (GOE) codes. While Holland codes are the most often used
in this country (Self-directed Search, O*Net Interest Profiler, etc.) it is the GOE interest categories that tie directly
to the U.S. DOL Occupational Aptitude Pattern (OAP) and other extensive research relating to aptitude requirements for occupation
categories. Since there are 12 categories, the GOE areas also give more precise definitions of the world of work.
Career Clusters, Pathways and STEM Careers
The emerging practice of aptitude testing for placement
in Career Clusters is an exciting development. Career Clusters, Pathways, STEM Initiatives, Career Academies, Small Learning Communities
- all focus on teaching skills and academics in the context of a field of work. Students can objectively self-select
into a Pathway of best fit, and have increased confidence and motivation for their choice. Extensive research has already
been done on determining which aptitudes are required for learning various types of work. The U.S. Department of
Education's 16 Career Clusters are tied directly to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Aptitude Patterns in the latest
versions of CareerScope® - allowing reports that show a student's interest and "aptness" for the 16 Career Clusters,
the Career Pathway subsets, and even the 1800 Career Specialties defined in the U.S. DOE system.