An aptitude test is a test that attempts to determine and measure a person’s ability to acquire certain skills through future training.
The general assumption of the tests is that different people have different abilities and that these differences can be useful in predicting future achievements.
Like IQ tests, this tests measure a broad spectrum of abilities e.g verbal comprehension, general reasoning numerical operations and perceptual speed or mechanical knowledge.
They have also been developed to measure the professional potential e.g legal, medical, accounting and also measure the special abilities e.g mechanical, clerical etc.
The Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) measures specific abilities such as clerical speed and mechanical reasoning as well as general academic ability.
Aptitude tests can be administered orally, on paper, on computer or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills test, which vary in style, rigor, and requirements. However, whatever kind of test is administered, it’s designed to assess your logical reasoning or thinking performance.
Typically there is a control group with which the results of a candidate is measured against. The questions are usually short and timed eg 30 questions to be answered in 30 minutes.
Speed tests and they measure how many questions you can answer correctly within the allotted time space. They are generally used in selection at the administrative and clerical levelPower tests on the other hand will present a smaller number of more complex questions. Power tests tend to be used more at the professional or managerial level.
There are several types of aptitude tests as indicated earlier
a) Verbal ability tests;
They include spelling, grammar, ability to understand analogies and follow detailed written instructions. They are usually present in almost all areas since they test on how well you can be able to communicate.
b) Numerical ability tests;
They include basic arithmetic, number sequence and simple mathematics. They are usually used for management level and it’s usual to be presented with graphs and charts that need to be interpreted. They are also general since they are aimed at testing your ability to use numbers although that might not be your specific areas.
c) Abstract reasoning test;
They measure the ability of the respondent to identify an underlying logic in a pattern and then determine the solution. Abstract reasoning is believed to be the best indicator of a candidate’s fluid intelligence and ability to learn new things quickly. They therefore appear in most general aptitude tests.
d) Spatial ability tests;
They measure the candidates ability to manipulate shapes into two dimension or to visualize three-dimensional objects presented as two-dimensional pictures. These questions not usually found in general aptitude tests unless the job specifically requires good spatial skills.
e) Mechanical reasoning tests;
They are tests designed to assess the candidates’ knowledge of physical and mechanical principles. Mechanical reasoning questions are used to select for a wide range of jobs including the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), police forces, fire services, as well as many craft, technical and engineering occupations.
f) Fault diagnosis tests;
These are tests used to select technical personnel who need to be able to find and repair faults in electronic and mechanical systems. As modern equipment of all types becomes more dependent on electronic control systems (and arguably more complex) the ability to approach problems logically in order to find the cause of the fault is increasingly important.
g) Data checking tests;
They are tests aimed at measuring how quickly and accurately errors can be detected in data and are used to select candidates for clerical and data input jobs.
h) Work sample tests;
These are tests that will include a sample of the work that you will be expected do. These types of test can be very broad ranging. They may involve exercises using a word processor or spreadsheet if the job is administrative or they may include giving presentations if the job is management or supervisory in nature.
Do not panic over aptitude test. Prepare well and you will pass with no problem but do not make any assumptions.
For example, many people assume that they won't have any problems with verbal ability questions because they once got an 'A' in English.
They may have a point if they got the 'A' a few months ago, but what if it was ten years ago? It is very easy to ignore the effects of not reading as much as you used to, and of letting your spell-checker take care of correcting your written English.
The same thing applies to numerical ability. Most people who have been out of education for more than a few years will have forgotten how to multiply fractions and calculate volumes.
While it is easy to dismiss these as 'first grade' or elementary maths, most people simply don't do these things on a day-to-day basis. So, don't assume anything - it's better to know for sure.