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Face to face interviews or counselling sessions lasting for a fraction of time is insufficient to go in-depth into a person’s traits. A novel way to effectively measure aptitude and personality, Psychometric Testing proves to be the most promising career selector tool. Using analytical questions of objective form, clearly giving yes or no answers brings clarity in gauging a person’s abilities for a particular career. How do psychometric testing work, different types of testing methods and the benefits of using it for career choice is unravelled in the section?

What are the psychometric tests?
Psychometrics are tools that help an individual understand their individual differences or their psychological abilities, which are not measurable by any other means. These abilities are Intelligence, Aptitude, Interest, Personality, Motivation etc.

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Intelligence test: are the tools which are designed to understand the mental/ cognitive functions of the individual. They aim to assess the person’s intellectual potential in areas such as reasoning abilities, problem-solving abilities, decision-making abilities, comprehension etc.
Aptitude Tests: are designed to measure the specific abilities of the individual which can range from clerical, perceptual, numerical and spatial. They help to determine which area is strongest of the individual to help them realize their potential and work on them.

Interest Tests: are designed to understand the attraction or repulsion of the individual towards an event, object or activity. It helps to gain a better understanding of the individual and is used extensively in career counselling to help the person understand their areas of interest and whether the career they plan to pursue aligns with their interest or not.
Personality: Personality is understood as the collection of personal traits that an individual acquires from a combination of genes and environmental factors. The personality test aims to understand the various character traits that an individual possesses.

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Motivation test: Motivation tools provide information about the type of environment, tasks and activities that an individual will be motivated to do. Thus, they can be used in career counselling to understand the motivating factors for the individual and help them choose the best career.

How did psychometric tests come into existence?

Psychological/ psychometric tests are not a new concept. They can be traced back to have originated in the 19th century. The three milestones that need to be considered while trying to understand psychological testing are
Rudimentary forms of testing in China- In 2200 B.C. Chinese emperors wanted their officials to be tested every three years in order to have a record of their fitness. In order to assess the fitness of the candidates, they had to go through three levels of testing, which when passed allowed them to enter the public office.

In the preliminary examination, the candidates were asked to stay in an isolated booth for a day and a night and were required to write a poem and an essay on the topic assigned to them. Those who cleared this level moved to the second level or the district level, and those who cleared the second level were made to enter the final level. Only those who could clear all three levels were considered qualified to serve the public office.

The Brass instrument era of testing-In this era, the psychologists mistook the concept of simple sensory processes for intelligence. They made use of brass instruments to measure the sensory threshold and reaction time to assess the intelligence level of the individual. Though this method was not the appropriate way to measure intelligence, it acted as a source of light for the upcoming experimental psychologists who worked on this area of testing.

The first battery of intelligence- Sir Francis Galton was the pioneer of experimental psychology. He initially started with measuring the reaction time and sensory discrimination, same as in the “brass instrument era”, but his procedure was much more modified than the previous era. The procedure was much more amenable than before and he made tests to measure both physical (height, weight) and behavioural characteristics (reaction time to visual and auditory stimulation). Sir Galton is also known as the father of mental testing which further evolved into psychometric testing.

Cattell’s contribution- After the contribution of sir Galton, James McKeenCattellstudied and modified the work of Galton. He gave the term “Mental Test”. The various tests that he worked on were-
Strength of hand squeeze, Rate of hand movement through a distance of 50 centimetres, Two-point threshold for touch, Degree of pressure needed to cause pain.
Reaction time for sound—using a device similar to Galton’s Time for naming colours Bisection of a
50-centimetre line Judgment of 10 seconds of time Number of letters repeated on one hearing.

Thus, this can be understood as to how psychological testing to assess the behavioural characteristics of the individual evolved.

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