Aptitude tests have been used since the early 20th century to measure a person’s abilities, talents, motor coordination, reasoning skills, and even artistic ability. Schools use aptitude tests for a number of reasons. Because children’s abilities change as they mature, aptitude tests change with the ages of the students being tested.
What are Aptitude Tests?
According to Macklem, an aptitude test measures the ability of a student to acquire a set of skills or training by measuring the student’s natural talents. Aptitude tests may also measure the future potential of a student, or what a student may choose to do for a career. Because aptitude tests do not measure subject areas in school, they are not tests that students can study for. Instead, aptitude tests are used to measure potential ability to learn, rather than what the student has learned in school during the year. In addition, Macklem states that aptitude tests cover a broad area, and look at a wide range of experiences.
Elementary School Students
For young elementary school students, there are several aptitude tests that measure abilities. Often, aptitude tests are used to test students for special programs, such as gifted education or special education. An example of an aptitude test used in elementary schools is the Modern Language Aptitude Test. This test is used to determine whether a student has a talent for foreign languages. There is also an aptitude test to measure mathematical talent: the Stanford Educational Mathematics Aptitude Test. The Woodcock-Johnson is a test that can be used for both academic achievement and aptitude, according to the Buros Institute of Mental Measurements.
Middle School Students
The aptitude test for middle school students measures abilities such as short-term memory, visual processing, long-term storage and retrieval, processing speed, reaction time, and psycho-motor abilities. Aptitude tests in middle school, like elementary school, are used to determine qualification for special programs, such as gifted or special education. One example of a career aptitude test available to adolescents is the Differential Aptitude Test, which tests students on verbal reasoning, numerical ability, clerical speed and accuracy, abstract reasoning, mechanical reasoning, space relations, spelling and language usage. Another aptitude test that can be used in middle school is the OASIS-3: Occupational Aptitude Survey and Interest Schedule.
High School Students
High school students may take aptitude tests to qualify for gifted or special education services. High school students also take aptitude tests to determine career interests and possible career paths for post-secondary education. Examples of aptitude tests available to high school students include the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test and the Differential Aptitude Test.