Standardized tests: Mental ability

These tests that measure underlying ability and learning.

Aptitude or specialized abilities

An aptitude is the ability to learn or to develop proficiency in an area (if provided with appropriate education or training). It is like talent. Examples are various types of reasoning, artistic ability, motor coordination, musical talent. There are aptitude tests that measure mechanical and linguistic ability, as well as more specific skills, such as military flight and computer programming. More....

treble clef and paint brushes


Intelligence is a general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. Intellectual ability involves comprehension; understanding, and learning from experience. Intelligence tests are aimed at assessing a person's underlying intellectual ability.

Group intelligence tests are administered to groups. Most measure how a person's intellectual performance compares with that of others in the same age group. Examples of groups intelligence tests are the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Scale and Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (a nonverbal set of tasks).*

Individual intelligence tests are given one-on-one and provide a detailed picture of an individual's intellectual ability. They are used primarily for clinical (diagnostic) purposes. Examples are the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale.


mortar board

Achievement tests measure the extent to which a person has "achieved" something, acquired certain information, or mastered certain skills - usually as a result of planned instruction or training. It is designed to efficiently measure the amount of knowledge and/or skill a person has acquired, usually as a result of classroom instruction.

A common use is to determine a person's academic level. The California High School Exit Examination is an example of an achievement test. Chances are you have taken achievement tests sometime during your primary or secondary school years. Other examples are the Wide Range Achievement Test, Iowa Achievement Test, Califonia Achievement Test.*

* You do not need to memorize the test names.

Next section: Personality inventories