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What Is a Psychomotor Test?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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Various psychomotor tests have been devised since the early 20th century to test human dexterity and reaction times. The purposes of these tests vary widely, from determining the best candidates for surgeons or pilots to ensuring that children are developing properly or that brain injury patients are healing. As the name suggests, a psychomotor test not only gauges a person's effectiveness at performing various mechanical tasks but also his or her ability to process and follow instructions succinctly.

Training pilots, seeking either commercial or military missions, are often given a psychomotor test — or a series of them — to gauge reaction times, coordination and multitasking abilities. One such test involves aligning constantly shifting vertical and horizontal lines with a joystick to maintain a tight set of crosshairs on a computer screen. Other tests include those that gauge a prospective pilot's skills of discernment or even flight simulators, which test hand-eye coordination and stress management in real-world scenarios.

A special psychomotor test was developed in 2006 to screen candidates wishing to perform laparoscopic surgery, which requires a series of subtle and precise movements. Some medical schools used these kinds of tests to determine if students have the skills necessary to pursue a surgical specialty. Others administer them strictly for training purposes by simulating various surgical processes for students to learn proper procedures in a more hands-on fashion before attempting them on real people.

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A vocational psychomotor test is administered to trainees in several occupations. Tests are often geared to the particular position being filled. For instance, a manufacturing operation may perform a cursory psychomotor test on a job candidate by simply placing that person in a high-speed assembly line section and asking him or her to perform the task for a set period of time. This can give the employer an idea of how fast and efficient the employee will be in other capacities.

Physicians or even psychiatrists and psychologists may want to gauge a patient's coherence or progress by administering a psychomotor test. Various tests have been devised throughout the 20th century to help them determine this. Some are specific to particular tasks, while others are more generalized.

A range of basic skills are tested during a psychomotor test, from precision, dexterity, coordination and control to reaction times, stability, speed and coherence. There are a variety of quick quick tests that experts may use to gauge these skills. Some of these tests include a tweezer dexterity test, a matching-color pegboard, or a set of small parts that must be quickly assembled.

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pleonasm
Post 3

I remember when I was a kid we used to get very competitive about these kinds of tests. They weren't very rigorous tests, they'd just be something like dropping a ruler and seeing how quickly a person could catch it (this one was good because you could directly compare and record the place on the ruler where it was caught each time).

Then, when my nephew was small we would crow over every little bit of progress he would make and compare his test results to the average to see how far ahead he was. It sounds a little unhealthy but we were doing it as a bit of a joke I guess. The thing is, it's not like people can really improve those results except through trying their best (which everyone mostly does anyway) so it was a little bit silly to get excited over them.

croydon
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - Well, consider the alternative. I wouldn't want someone with shaky hands to be going anywhere near me with a scalpel, would you? Besides, I bet there is a way to develop hand strength and dexterity. Actually I think you can probably do it by playing some kinds of video games.

I know that they often tell surgeons to play video games before surgery because it makes them better at the job. I wonder if it's got anything to do with psychomotor connections.

lluviaporos
Post 1

It must be so upsetting for people who want to be a surgeon to get screened out before reaching their goal because they have poor dexterity. I mean, they probably wouldn't give them that test until the doctors had already been through years and years of work and had set their hearts and minds on becoming a particular type of surgeon. After all that time they lose because their fingers are a bit shaky? It doesn't seem fair to me.

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