Measures of Aptitudes and Achievement
This chapter focuses on measures of cognitive aptitudes and achievement levels. The term aptitude is used broadly in this case to refer to underlying cognitive abilities or capacities, and achievement refers to acquired knowledge or skills. It should be understood, though, that the distinction between aptitude and achievement measures is sometimes a fine one, and that all of the measures described are based on acquired competencies. It is also worth noting at the beginning that many of the general and specific aptitude tests refer to themselves as intelligence tests. However, and because of ambiguities associated with the term intelligence, there seems to be a move away from that terminology. These are generally referred to in this chapter, then, as aptitude tests.
The instruments reviewed range from individually administered tests of general cognitive aptitudes through more specialized aptitude measures to group tests of academic achievement. These tests perform important roles in educational, clinical, and organizational contexts. Individual tests of general cognitive aptitudes are, for example, widely used in schools for screening, placement, and diagnostic purposes. Similarly, tests of specialized aptitudes and achievement levels are important tools in vocational guidance and personnel selection settings.
The level of expertise required for administering, scoring, and interpreting these measures varies, but most of the tests reviewed in this chapter require a background in psychological assessment and special training in administration. The importance of using these tests with care is emphasized by the fact that they are often used for making diagnoses that may have important implications for the individual being assessed.