Aptitude Tests

What is an aptitude test and what does it measure?

Aptitude tests are psychometric assessments designed to determine how well someone will perform a skill they have not received training in or had experience performing. If a particular skill is required to perform well in a given job role, aptitude tests help determine whether a candidate could learn the skill with an appropriate amount of training.

Aptitude tests can be very specific (e.g. an aptitude test for working with a spreadsheet program) to very broad (e.g. a test of learning ability). Organizations that have done due diligence go through a careful evaluation of any job when selecting the best aptitude tests for hiring. The selected aptitude test(s) will measure the aptitude to learn the most important skills for that job.

Job aptitude tests are typically paired with other standardized psychometric assessments to provide a broader picture of the suitability of a candidate for a specific role.

What does an aptitude test consist of?

Aptitude tests vary depending on what the test was designed to measure. The most traditional aptitude tests provide candidates with a problem or scenario and a list of options from which the candidate must select the best answer. These multiple-choice tests are what most candidates are familiar with. Other aptitude tests might ask questions about preferences and previous experiences. For some skills, a lot can be learned about a candidate’s potential based on what they have done in the past and how they prefer to work in the present. More innovative aptitude tests might involve simulations where candidates are placed in virtual scenarios and they are evaluated based on how they respond to the situations presented in the simulation. Simulations are more engaging than standard tests are and they look more like the job than multiple-choice based tests.

What is an aptitude test example?

Different jobs require different skills, and therefore the aptitude tests used for each job will be different.

  • An IT Developer job might use an aptitude test that asks about experience with various coding languages or present the candidate with problems one might face in the role and ask the candidate to select the best solution from a list of options.
  • A clerical role might use an aptitude test measuring error detection that presents the candidate with a string of numbers and letters and then asks them to select the matching string from a set of four or five options.

SHL provides the opportunity to experience job aptitude test examples and practice a variety of psychometric test types at our test preparation and career center.

Is the aptitude test hard?

Aptitude tests vary in difficulty. For every aptitude test, there will be people high in aptitude for the skill being measured that find the test easy and people low in aptitude that find the test difficult. The best option for candidates worried about the difficulty of aptitude tests is to find out what they are going to be assessed on and try some example questions.

All SHL tests provide detailed instructions on how to complete the assessment and most aptitude tests include example or practice questions that allow candidates to experience the test prior to being scored. Candidates should also always read the instructions and ask for help if they don’t understand what is being asked of them.

Who invented aptitude tests?

No single person can be cited as the inventor of aptitude tests. The first modern intelligence test was developed by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon in 1904, but that is just one type of aptitude test. Aptitude tests have been used in education, in the military, and for pre-employment selection in organizations and can measure anything from customer service aptitude to verbal reasoning aptitude.

Broad use of aptitude tests began in the United States military in the 1920s. Use began to spread to other work sectors because research found that recruits that were placed in specific roles based on aptitude testing were more successful than recruits placed randomly. Over the last 100 years, thousands of different aptitude tests have been developed. Aptitude tests change as technology makes gamified assessments and high-fidelity simulations easier to develop. Aptitude tests will continue to change as the world of work changes. Skills vital to many jobs now didn’t exist twenty years ago.

Modern aptitude tests at SHL are developed by skilled psychometricians or experts in psychological testing, that spend time analyzing jobs, writing content, and ensuring that aptitude tests meet the highest standards of measurement.

What is the best career aptitude test?

The best career aptitude test is the test that is developed with scientific rigor and is well matched to the job for which it is being used based on a thorough job analysis. A clerical aptitude test would not be the best test for an accounting job. An accountant may do some data entry, but that is not a critical part of their role. SHL has a large library of aptitude tests measuring the potential to learn a multitude of skills. These tests were developed by highly trained psychometricians with many years of experience exceeding the measurement standards in the industry. SHL also has tools to help organizations determine the most appropriate tests for a specific job.