What is Psychological Testing?

Melanie Smeltzer

Psychological testing, also sometimes known as psychometrics, is a broad term that refers to the observations of an individual that are used to evaluate and assess his or her abilities, psychophysical behavior, and emotional functioning. These observations are typically based on answers given during an interview or paper-based test. There are many tests available that range from IQ (intelligence quotient) to aptitude tests and personality tests.

Airline pilots are required to receive psychological evaluation tests on a routine basis.
Airline pilots are required to receive psychological evaluation tests on a routine basis.

Most of the time, psychological testing asks the individual to respond to a number of problems or tasks to gauge his abilities and thought processes. In many cases, the individual is asked to respond to the best of his ability so that his psychological capabilities can be fully measured. These tests are often required to follow certain guidelines that ensure that every individual has an equal opportunity to answer correctly. For example, if a test asks questions that only those who live in a specific region would know, it is not considered effective for a broad audience.

Psychologists have used psychometrics to look at people’s strengths, their weaknesses, and areas in which they may be disabled or gifted.
Psychologists have used psychometrics to look at people’s strengths, their weaknesses, and areas in which they may be disabled or gifted.

The IQ test is one of the better known forms of psychological testing. Its basic purpose is to help classify individuals into specific categories such as learning disabled or gifted. Unlike the similar achievement tests, which focus on learned facts, IQ testing is thought to help identify the cognitive ability to understand basic theories, figure out how these theories function, and determine how to apply them.

The IQ test is one of the better known forms of psychological testing.
The IQ test is one of the better known forms of psychological testing.

Some forms of psychological testing focus on personality. Personality tests are often used by employers as a method of pre-screening job applicants, as well as in forensic and research settings, and are generally split into projective and objective groups. Objective testing typically consists of true or false questions used to understand an individual's personality by the way he responds, while projective testing focuses on making sense of the individual's spontaneous responses. Occupational psychological testing is also frequently used by employers and is said to help identify personal strengths and match the interests of an individual with certain careers.

Personality tests are often used by employers as a method of pre-screening job applicants.
Personality tests are often used by employers as a method of pre-screening job applicants.

Neuropsychology is a form of psychological testing used to assess the connection between behavior and brain functioning. These tests are often used to screen patients who have suffered from some sort of brain injury. To help determine the presence or extent of brain damage, neuropsychology tests are utilized to measure the patient's memory and concentration, attention span, learning ability, and intelligence.

Individuals with mental retardation may have impaired cognitive abilities and an IQ under 70.
Individuals with mental retardation may have impaired cognitive abilities and an IQ under 70.

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