One of the main disappointments in our profession is the current state of commercial Ability tests. After nearly 100 years of first introducing ‘scientific’ measurements of intellectual capacity, you would have expected something much better than what we currently have.
I do not challenge the available ability tests in terms of their technical capacity – i.e., my criticism is not to do with questions of quality of normative data, nor is it about the validity and reliability of the measures. I take these for granted. What has been frustrating me for the last 25 years of my practice as a business psychologist is the limited output we gain from an ability test.
Most tests requires participants to spend close to an hour responding to demanding test items; yet, the final outcome in most cases does not amount to more than single figure – normally a percentile score comparing the performance of the test taker to that of a norm group (e.g., ‘you score above 63% of the norm group). This is a far cry from the rich output and interpretations you get from a personality inventory. No wonder that the British Psychological Society differentiates between Level A certificate of competence in occupational testing (ability tests) and Level B certificate that is dedicated to personality instruments. Relatively to personality instruments – there not much to say about ability tests outcomes.
Do not get me wrong – I am not challenging the value of ability tests, and I am not suggesting that they should be replaced by ‘more-value-for-money/effort’ personality instruments. What I am opening to discussion is the frustrating state of affairs of limited output we get from ability tests.
The closest attempt to enrich the output of an ability test that I am aware of is the work of Robert Hogan with the HBRI (Hogan Business Reasoning Inventory). The test provides two scores – Strategic Reasoning and Tactical Reasoning. These are combined to create an overall critical reasoning score. Hogan provides an interpretation of each of the two individual scores (e.g., what are the implications of scoring 78% on Strategic Reasoning) as well as a very simple 2×2 classification into a 4-type typology based on the interaction between the two scores. As such, the report is far more informative than the typical practice of providing a single score. Yet, there is so much more that can be obtained from the available data.
The followings are some possible ways to utilise ability tests better:
So, what I am looking for is an ability test that will provide me with richer information than simply telling me how the individual scored in comparison the norm group.
This frustration, led me to spend the last three years developing an Ability test that utilises these ideas and provide rich and valuable output. I called the final test Intellecto ©. You can find more about it on by clicking here. To see an example of the output from it click here.