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Q1. What are 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.

  1. Intelligence Test: These are the tools that 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 counseling to help the person understand their areas of interest and whether the career they plan to pursue aligns with their interest or not.
  4. Personality Test: 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. 
  5. 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 counseling to understand the motivating factors for the individual and help them choose the best career.
Psychometrics : FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Psychology

Q.2 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

1. Rudimentary Forms of Testing in China

In 2200 B.C. Chinese emperors wanted their officials to be tested every three years to have a record of their fitness. 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.

Rudimentary Forms of Testing in China: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests

2. The Brass Instrument Era of Testing-

In this era, 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.

3. 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 behavioral characteristics (reaction time to visual and auditory stimulation). Sir Galton is also known as the father of mental testing.

Sir Francis Galton: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: brass instrument era of Psychology

4. Cattell’s Contribution

After the contribution of Sir Galton, James McKeen Cattell studied 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 centimeters, 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 colors Bisection of a 
  • 50-centimeter line Judgment of 10 seconds of time Number of letters repeated on one hearing.
Cattell’s Contribution to psychology: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests

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

Q3. What was the use of psychometric tests in the past?

The use of the first psychological test can be traced from China in 2200 BC, where officials had to go through fitness testing every 3 years. They had to undergo three levels of testing to prove themselves qualified for the job.

Later, Sir Francis Galton tried to study individual differences and proved that the scores that were derived from the individual testing, i.e. by the use of instruments to measure the physical and the behavioral characteristics of the individual were meaningful and were important to study the person as a whole.

the first psychological test: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: China

After this came James Cattell, who was the first one to coin the term “Mental Test”. He modified the work done by Sir Galton and developed a series of tests to measure mental abilities such as the strength of hand squeeze, Reaction time for sound, etc.

During World War-I in 1917, American Psychologist Robert Yerkes and a team of six others developed tests named Army Alpha (for literates) and Army Beta (for illiterates) to evaluate the military recruits during the war. The test helped to classify recruits based on their capabilities, their potential, and their intelligence. The various aspects that were measured were numerical, verbal ability, the capacity to process information, and the ability to follow directions. The officials who were literate and could speak foreign languages took the Army Alpha test, whereas those who could not speak any foreign language and couldn’t read took the Army Beta test.

This is how the first psychometric test was used in recruitment.

Alpha Army: World War 1: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests

Q4. What circumstances led to the growth of Psychometric Tests?

During the 20th century, psychologists realized that it was necessary to study individual differences, as only then would it be possible to segregate people based on their potential and other characteristics. Once a person is understood as an individual, apart from his/her family, culture and another social context, it will be easy to place the person in the position that best suits him/her.

The psychometric tests first originated in China where the tests were used to study the potential of the officials in the military to understand how fit they were. It was then further evolved by Sir Francis Galton to study individual differences by measuring physical and behavioral characteristics. This was further developed by Cattell, who developed batteries (collections of tests) to understand the mental capacity of the individual and then came up with the term “Mental Test”. 

As this progressed, in 1904, the Education minister of France asked the French Psychologist, Alfred Binet, to develop a test that would help the schools to segregate the students who could not benefit from regular coaching in the classroom from students who could. For this purpose, the psychologist designed an intelligence test to help determine the intellectual capacity of the individual and to understand the needs of different students. He was the first psychologist to coin the term “IQ”.

French Psychologist, Alfred Binet: History of Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests:

After this event, the psychologists designed tests that could be used for recruitment during World War I. The tests Army Alpha and Army Beta were designed by Robert Yerkes and his team to have a systematic evaluation of a soldier’s mental and emotional ability. Based on the scores obtained on the tests, the soldiers were segregated based on the potential, knowledge, and intelligence they possessed.

After this, the growth of psychometrics never stopped, and as the field flourished, many other tests such as personality, interest, creativity, etc. came into existence.

Q.5 What are the different types of Psychometric Tests used in recruitment?

Psychometric tests are being used in recruitment since World War I, where they were used to assess the intelligence and the potential of the candidates to assign them the job that was best suitable to them. These psychometrics are still being used in many areas such as schools, hospitals, and organizations for the recruitment of the individual.

Employers these days are using psychometric tools to assess the intelligence, personality, and interest of the employee to determine the best suitable position for them in the organization, as it is only then that the productivity of each employee can be maximized.

Psychometric tests for recruitment: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests

These tests can also help the employer determine how well the employee will be able to adjust to the job and the environment, and how well they will be able to cope with the problems or stressors in the organization.

Psychometric Tests can help compare the individual with the other candidates in terms of abilities without bringing in the factor of unconscious bias. They make the process of recruitment smooth and effective and are a reliable source of information as they can trace the things or characters which are not observable otherwise.

They can also prove helpful in making future predictions about the individual. These days these tests can be taken both online as well as offline (paper and pencil). Thus, these tests have proved to be an asset to the employers in the organization.

Q.6 What is the use of Psychometric Tests in career counseling?

Career counselors help the individual to identify the area of work where they are most satisfied and productive. To identify these areas where the job satisfaction and productivity are highest one should be able to identify their area of interest, their strengths and weaknesses, should be able to enhance their skills required for the job, manage the stress related to work effectively, and resolve the conflict that can arise within the organization. 

Once the person can develop this deep insight about oneself, they can work efficiently. Psychometric tools help the individual to gain a better insight into their own selves, as they can analyze their observable as well as their non-observable traits. 

Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Psychometric tools can help the individual identify their area of interest that can be developed into a productive career. They help the person to understand their innate potential, to understand their personality traits to determine which environment will be best suitable for them, to determine how well they will be able to resolve the conflict within the organization and to determine their areas of strengths and weaknesses. 

Thus, psychometric tools are employed in the area of career counseling to help the individual identify their interest and aptitude and using these insights as a baseline, to choose a professional area of work they will be best suited to.

Q.7 In which class should I first take my career test?

Making a career is a lifelong process. It is the most crucial step of our life as we spend the maximum number of our waking hours in our organization or the office where we work. From a very early age, we start to prepare ourselves for the kind of profession that we want to be in.

As per the Indian education system, a child is made to study all the subjects till the 10th standard. After the Board exams in class 10th, the student is made to choose between the various streams of his/her interest. The available streams are science (with or without biology), commerce (with/without maths), and Arts. These days there is an ample number of options available for the combination of subjects.

Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Usually, students at this age take up a stream due to parental pressure or peer pressure, or sometimes because they are influenced by popular perceptions of a certain profession.

Example: Rohan, a student who just gave his 10th board opted for the science stream because he wanted to be a pilot and was attracted by the lifestyle of pilots. But, as he entered 11th, he realized that he does not possess the aptitude for science and started to score really low, ruining his 12th boards. 

Based on the above example, one should understand that it is necessary to assess potential and intellect, and not just base this important decision based on the interest one possesses at that age.

Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Thus, a student who is about to decide to select a stream should in class 10th definitely go for the psychometric test as it is the first step towards career-making, and if that decision is made correctly then further goals can be set and attained easily.

Q.8 My friend and I are very similar to each other. Since she has taken a career test, can I also go by her results?

We usually feel that we are very much similar to our friends. It may be possible that you and your friends possess similar interests and similar personalities and it may also be possible that you both may score somewhat similarly in your exams, but this does not mean that the two of you are completely identical to each other.

When we try to determine the best career for the individual we need to keep in mind various factors that influence an individual such as the interest of the person in various fields, the personality, the aptitude that the person holds towards work or the subject, the intellectual ability of the individual. 

When we try to compare ourselves with our friends we only take into consideration the traits that are overt and are observable and we tend to ignore the covert traits or the unobservable characteristics.

Don't compare: peer pressure: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Psychometric tools are one such source that helps us identify the covert traits or the behavioral characteristics that an individual possesses. They help us to identify the individual difference that exists between the two individuals. Research has proved that even identical twins are not similar to each other in all aspects. No two people are similar to each other in all possible ways.

Therefore, it is recommended that one should not go by the results of his/her friend even though you both appear to be very much similar to each other. One should definitely go for their own test to analyze themselves well and make an informed career decision.

Q.10 How would I know that the test is good?

Psychological or psychometric tests are not just vague, they are standardized. By standardization, we mean uniformity in administering and scoring the test.

When a test is developed the test must be standardized. A good test should have the following 3 characteristics:

Reliability:

Reliability can be understood as the consistency in the results. For example: if a person measures his IQ and takes the test again in a week, the score obtained in both the tests should be the same, otherwise, the test cannot be considered a good test.

Reliability: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

There are two types of reliability, “internal” and “external”.

  1. Internal reliability refers to measuring the consistency within the test such as Split-Half reliability– which means that all statements of the test contribute equally to the consistency of the test. 
  2. External reliability refers to the variation in the measure from one use to another such as Test Re-test reliability which measures the stability of the result within the different interval of time.

Validity:

Validity can be defined as the extent to which the test measures what it actually claims to measure.

Validity: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

There are various types of validity in a psychological test such as:

  1. Face Validity: It is one of the most used and not so sophisticated measures of validity. It determines the validity of the test based on the face value of the statements or the questions.
  2. Construct Validity: It can be understood as the validity determined by the scores obtained on the test and the prediction made based on the scores obtained.
  3. Content validity: refers to the type of validity when the test seems to cover the entire range of possible items that should be covered.

Norms:

Norms refer to the understanding of where the individual lies among the population. The raw scores that are obtained from the test seem to have no meaning until they are interpreted with respect to their position in relation to the others. Norms can be based on age, gender, class, literacy, etc.

Norms: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Q.11 How do I decide which career test is best suitable for me?

Not all career tests are suitable for every individual, and the tests are designed considering the age, class, and the stream of the individual. As we know, career counseling is a lifelong process and in the Indian scenario, it begins by the 10th standard as that is the time when the child is enrolled into their respective streams. 

Thus, which career test will be best for the student/ client at any given point of time can be understood by the following:

If the student is about to enter class 10th and is confused about which stream he/she should opt for, the test that can be taken by the student is STREAM SELECTOR TEST. This test will help you assess your aptitude and personality and will let you determine which stream is best suitable for you after class 10th.

If the student is in 11th/12th standard, then the best career test for commerce and science (without biology) student will be Commerce Career Selector and Engineering Branch Selector test respectively. These tests will share a brief knowledge about the various career options available after the 12th and will help the student make a firm decision regarding the career. The B.com students can also use commerce stream selector to make clear choices about their career and further studies.

  • Ideal Career Test- can be used by people of all age groups who are not satisfied with their current career or those who just want to know which career is the most suitable for them.
  • Skill-Based Career Test – can be taken up by people who want to learn some new skill or are willing to take up some vocational course. The reports will indicate the area of interest and the various fields where the individual can develop their career.

For all the graduates and working professionals, the best career test that can be taken up is Professional Skill Index Test. This will help the individual identify the area where they can excel. It will help the individual understand their professional skill parameters.

Thus, these are the tests that an individual can choose from based on their needs.

Ideal Career Test: Psychometrics and Psychology: FAQ For Psychometric Tests: Career counselling

Q.12 How do I know which career test is the best out of a variety of tests available in the market?

When it comes to deciding the career of an individual, we need to consider various factors that influence a career choice. We know that while making a career choice one should not focus only on one aspect.

For example, Mr. A is interested in being a cricketer. He has a keen interest in that sport and has always dreamt of being a cricketer, but he knows that he does not have the potential to excel in that profession or cannot take it up as a profession. Thus, we can see that in this example a career is not solely decided by just one factor. If he had taken up cricket just because he loves to play cricket and is inclined towards that sport, he might not have done well, and therefore, he would have never been able to derive satisfaction out of his career.

Now that we know that a career is decided by many other factors such as personality, aptitude, interest, and intelligence of the individual, a person who is taking a career test, be it online or offline, should go for a test that is taking into account all the various aspects. A test that takes into account only one factor will not prove to be a good test as it will not give a comprehensive report on all the factors that influence the career decision of the individual.

Secondly, a career test report should be in an easy and understandable language that can be easily interpreted by the parents or the students. A report should have graphics and charts, which make it easy to understand and will enable the client to have an insight into the interpretation even when the counselor is not present.

Thirdly, a career test report should be able to provide all the specific details such as which stream should be chosen, which skill should a person work on, it should provide a detailed explanation on what should be the next step that a person should focus on.

Therefore, a student/professional who wants his queries regarding the career to be resolved should consider these three basic aspects before choosing a career test.

Q.13 Which test shall I go for, online or offline?

These days a person may get a choice regarding whether they want to opt for an online career test or an offline career test. 

An offline career test means that the test will be conducted using pen-paper and as the client gives the answers on the test, their scores are calculated using the Manual and the interpretation of the scores is also done using the manual. It is a conventional process and is very time-consuming, as it requires the interpreter to be completely engrossed in the scoring.

Paper-pen assessment just provides the basic information that is required for the simple analysis. Also, it may become difficult for a person to take this test due to geographical barriers. Lots of time is devoted to formulating the result and usually, results are formulated for one person at a given time.

On the other hand, when we talk about online tests, they are now being practiced more than the paper-pen tests. The various advantages that an online test holds over an offline test are:

  • They can be conducted at any time of the day and are not affected by any geographical barrier.
  • The number of answers that can be chosen in an online test is limited. This might not be possible in a paper-pen test, where a person can select multiple answers and that can affect the interpretation of results.
  • The report that is generated provides a wealth of information that cannot be evaluated otherwise, as an online test takes into account the wealth of information that can go unnoticed in an offline test.

As the results are generated online, the result can be generated really quickly within no time and is more accurate.

Q.14 There are a number of free tests available online, so why should I go for the paid tests?

Yes, in today’s time we can indeed find a number of tests online which are free of cost and claim to give an accurate result related to all your career doubts. 

However, then there are other tests made by various companies that are charging a certain amount of money to get career tests done. This might seem confusing for the layman to understand. So some of the reasons that one should consider before opting for such free tests are:

  1. There could be a possibility that some of these free tests may provide you with a limited amount of information or may even show you a truncated picture and then later they demand an amount to get your results generated. Thus, it can be said that these tests just claim to be free of cost but are actually not.
  2. The other possibility is that even if the test is completely free and does not carry any terms and conditions with it, it tends to be non-reliable and invalid for the purpose it claims to be valid for. 
  3. There is a possibility that these tests are not at all confidential, i.e. the details that we provide about ourselves are not being kept confidential and are being used for some other motives.
  4. There is also a high probability that these test results come out to be biased as usually such tests are designed by certain companies to promote their specific career. These tests do not assess the overall career requirements of the individual, rather they incline the result towards their choice of interest. For example, A career test designed by some fashion designing company will yield results that are related to designing. For them, it is just a way of promoting their own products rather than giving an overall report of the individual.

Therefore, these factors should be always taken into consideration while deciding between a free and a paid career test.

Q.15 Can the results of the Psychometric change over time?

This is one of the questions that a client is most concerned about. When a person goes for a psychometric assessment, they need to be sure that the result they get is reliable. There should not be a case where if the person takes a test and a re-test after a period of time there comes out to be a huge difference in the results as there will no worth of using such tests. 

Thus, to keep this problem sorted the psychometric tests are made with some standardized procedure which makes sure that the tests are reliable i.e. the result will come out to be similar if the test is taken after an interval. The tests are proved to be internally as well as externally consistent which means that there will not be any difference in the result obtained even if the client takes a re-test.

But, some other factors can lead to change in results that should be taken care of such as Health, Environmental factors, and age can alter the results obtained by the individual.

Health includes both physical and psychological health. If their person is not feeling well during the test but this factor changes during the re-test then there are possibilities that the result will change.

Environmental factors such as noise, light conditions, weather can also prove to be responsible for the change in results obtained at different intervals of time.

Also, age plays an important role as the person grows, they mature and develop both physically and mentally. Therefore, there can be a possibility that the result can change due to the age factor of the individual. For example A child in class 8th scores low in an intelligence test but as he matures can prove the results wrong within the gap of at least 6 months.

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