Using Psychometric Testing such as IQ the Asvab the Sat or the Gre and Personality Testing

Psychometric testing has become one of the most utilized forms of psychological testing over the last several years.  A psychometric test is essentially one that attempts to make assumptions about an individual or organization through a series of tests that measure responses in order to make a determination based upon historical results.  These tests are typically utilized to measure intelligence, personality, ability, and capacity. 

Psychometric testing has been utilized for years in the school system at all levels.  It has been one of the easiest ways to determine how well one group of students at one school is doing in comparison to another group.  By having a uniform test the federal government is able to make decisions that will ultimately impact how students are educated.  Many school counselors also utilize these tests so that they can determine which direction they should push a student.  Through personality testing, counselors are able to determine what type of personality a student has and use that evaluation in order to help a student discover career fields that they would be best suited for. 

We have also seen the increase in pscyhometric testing in the business world as well.  It is rare that you can apply for a job at a major company without first going through a battery of testing that ensures that you are ultimately the right person for the job that you are applying for.  The testing measures your honesty, competence, and even your personality.  These companies want to eliminate those that they believe could have conflicts within their organization by testing them out.  This makes the selection process somewhat easier as it narrows down the candidates to the few that fit set guidelines. 

Even the military does psychometric testing to ensure that new recruits are intelligent enough to handle the fast paced environment and training of the military.  In fact, the military will often times use psychometric testing throughout a soldier’s career through tests that monitor the likelihood of a soldier to drink, to commit suicide, have depression, etc.  The idea is that by testing and finding those that are in the danger categories they will be able to better direct their resources to help those troops succeed and overcome their issues.

Pyschometric testing has come over some strong criticism over the years in regards to the effectiveness of the testing.  Those that are bad testers for example aren’t going to do as well on an intelligence test than those that are good at it.  Some people aren’t able to handle the testing anxiety and could potentially have significantly diminished results because of the stress while others that deal with pressure better might score significantly higher than their real knowledge level.  Testing also heavily favors those that are logical thinkers.  I for example can test well in subject matter that I know nothing about because I am able to logically choose the correct answer by a process of deduction.  I may not know why that answer is the right answer but I can come to a conclusion on it or make an education process of elimination because I am a good logical thinker. 

Other tests are also under fire as many will attempt to beat the test in order to get a more favorable result.  So for example on a test for employment you aren’t really measuring someone’s ethics you are likely measuring their ability to comprehend the purpose of the test and answer it to their favor.  If you wanted a more accurate result you would measure someone in an environment that does not impact their potential to gain employment.  If it were done in this manner the results would most likely be completely different even on the same test.  This is because people are motivated by reward.  When you have a reward based system, those taking the test are going to answer in order to obtain that reward.  They are going to make assumptions about the test so that they can give answers they feel the company would like to hear and not the true answer.  For example a question whether someone will steal may realistically be yes, but they are attempting to gain employment it will definitely be no.  This creates a flaw in the test that renders it invalid in the eyes of some.

It is also believed that these tests are used to discriminate.  Some contend that the tests are written in ways that are meant to confuse those that are less educated and try to take advantage of stereotypical norms in order to eliminate particular groups of people from contention for certain jobs.  The reality is that psychometric testing is big business.  A lot of psychologists make a great deal of money from the use of these tests.  They aren’t likely to go anywhere anytime soon and are probably going to only become more popular despite no real evidence that they have any real impact on predicting anything.