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Why and what of aptitude tests




Look at any selection process or assessment, and you will likely come across an aptitude test in one form or another. Right from assessments for applying to higher education institutions to applying for a managerial position in a big organization, they are everywhere.


Why are aptitude tests useful?

Aptitude tests are just like any other tools that can increase the efficiency and productivity of a recruitment selection process. There is substantial risk attached to selecting or developing people who turn out to be unsuitable, and the financial costs attached to wrong decisions about employment can be considerable.


Testing enables many of the aims of organizations that, ultimately, are to do with getting the best results from their people, identifying the most competent staff, and developing their competence to make the fullest use of each person’s contribution. So, if aptitude tests are used properly, tests have ‘nothing to lose, but everything to gain’.


Anything that will decrease costs and increase the probability of success is taken seriously by an organization. So, aptitude tests have found widespread use as a filter to identify suitable candidates for a role and for identifying improvement areas amongst the employee group needing knowledge and skill enhancement.


What do aptitude tests reveal about the test taker?

Aptitude tests can be used to assess present skills and capabilities, or they can be used to determine the “potential”. Let’s taken an example of spoken English. An aptitude test designed to check the language proficiency of the test taker is beneficial when a teacher wants to begin a language learning course for the students. Such tests are routinely used in teaching English as a foreign language, where applicants’ level of English needs to be known. On the other hand, the test will not be helpful if the candidate speaks very little English. If the teacher wishes to assess the candidate’s potential to learn English, a different type of aptitude test will have to be employed that evaluates the student’s ability to learn new things.


Tests can also be designed to assess both ability and aptitude – the ability to understand what the test requires and aptitude to perform at something for which a person may not yet have any prior experience. It is reasonable to measure aptitude only when it is assumed that people taking the test have had an excellent chance to develop the same ability.


How do aptitude tests help in recruitment assessment?

When aptitude tests are administered to a large group of people, you get a large data set that can help draw meaningful inferences and decisions. Aptitude tests administered to large groups allow us to

  • Look at potential similarly to everybody by putting everybody on an ‘equal playing field’.

  • Identify candidates who show better potential than others.

  • Uncover hidden potential in the candidates that they may not be aware of.

  • Efficiently and objectively collect information; as the information is difficult to obtain by any other method; for example, where an interview question might be ‘How good is your maths?’, a test score can say precisely how good a person is.

Predicting human performance is extremely complicated, much more complex than predicting what will happen to machines. Any test or forecast that is better than chance may be helpful while taking recruitment and selection decisions.


Aptitude tests are a tried and tested way that allows recruiters to assess candidates for desired skills and future potential quickly. They have always proven to be the first test/assessment included in any requirement assessment.


SmartList allows you to create your aptitude assessment using many ready question sets. Login to your Smartlist account or signup for a new one.


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