Articles on psychometric testing, personality tests, aptitude tests & employee selection

Practice leads to improved performance

The psychometric testing is one of the most popular selection tools used to identify suitable applicants for jobs in the public and private sectors.

Over many years, psychometric tests were considered to be an objective method to measure an individual’s intelligence and the extent to which they fit the job’s requirements. Again and again, it was claimed that there is no use preparing for the psychometric test, as it doesn’t measure acquired knowledge but only intellectual and natural intelligence.

These claims were proven to be wrong. Many researchers found that success in the psychometric test is not only dependent on applicants’ natural intelligence but also on their studies and their past experience in completing psychometric tests.


The correlation between a person’s age and performance on psychometric tests

It has been well documented that there is a general decline in psychometric performance as a person advances in age. For example, a particular study by Samuel Granick titled ‘The Effect of Education on the Decline of Psychometric Test Performance with Age’ back in 1967 showed that this was more significant in psychometric tests relating to cognition, attention, perception and visual-motor coordination. However, despite these findings, older candidates can certainly improve their performance levels through good old-fashioned practice.


How to deliver better results in psychometric tests

The method of psychometric testing is used extensively these days in helping employers to select the most appropriate candidate for a specific job role. Finding people with the right skills and attributes is paramount to all successful businesses in both the private and public sectors. Therefore, how you do in these tests plays an important part in whether you are eventually chosen for the position or not. But, being born with natural intelligence is not enough on its own to guarantee a positive outcome. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.     
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Practicing Online Psychometric Tests vs Practicing Books

Given that psychometric tests are increasingly being conducted online, rather than the traditional paper-and-pencil format, research has looked at measuring the differences between these two modes of psychometric tests. Psychometric test developers attempt to ensure that these different modes of delivering psychometric tests produce the same results. However there are inevitable differences in these modes that can lead to differences in the results of your psychometric test. Clariana and Wallace (2002) reported that your chance of getting equivalent scores on a paper-based psychometric test and a computerised practice psychometric test is only about 50%. Because of these differences between test delivery modes, it has been found that practicing in the same mode that the psychometric test will be administered in formally (i.e. online), is important. Practicing psychometric tests from books or other paper based tests would be to your disadvantage. This is referred to as the practice psychometric test mode effect.
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Choosing the 'right' person with psychometric tests  

More and more, organisations are using psychometric tests to aid the employee selection process, to help them get the ‘right’ person. The use of psychometric testing gives large and small organisations a competitive edge. Organisations want to know more about job seekers these days, wanting to discover their core competencies through the selection process. Being aware of these desirable core competencies is a good place for you to start, so that you can then better prepare for and practice psychometric tests such as aptitude tests and personality tests.

Practicing for computerised adaptive testing (CAT)   

This science is referred to as Item response theory (IRT), which is the most common psychometric approach to CAT ability and achievement forms of psychometric testing. This adaptive approach is designed to estimate the test-takers ability (or variable of interest to the employee selection panel), by adaptively choosing new items for the individual test-taker, based on the estimate of his/her knowledge, skill, ability, or other characteristic being evaluated by the test, obtained from previous responses. That is, in online psychometric tests based on CAT, a computer selects the items from an item bank that are most relevant for and informative about the ability of the particular test-taker, thus optimising test relevance and precision and reducing test-taking time.



Practice reduces Barnum effect in personality tests

The Barnum / Forer effect in psychometric personality tests refers to the tendency of psychometric test-takers to accept global statements which can be applied to anyone, and which are favourable. Forer (1949, as cited in Furnham & Schofield, 1987) argued that a universally valid statement is one that applies to nearly all the population, and therefore although true of the individual, does not reveal anything specific about them. These types of statements are likely to be endorsed by the psychometric test-taker if they make them feel good about them self. Interestingly, the Barnum effect is also found to be the reason people accept horoscopes, considering they comprise statements which are vague and favourable in nature. 
Aptitude tests and Intelligence 
Aptitude tests are a fundamental component of a psychometric test. They attempt to measure trait intelligence (IQ) and cognitive ability, which is indicated by your efficiency in information processing. There are different types of intelligence, namely fluid and crystallised intelligence (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1993). Cyrstallised intelligence involves verbal or language-based accumulated knowledge developed mainly through your education and other life experiences. In contrast, fluid intelligence refers to your adaptability and flexibility in the face of novel experiences that do not permit automatic reasoning.
Learning from your Mistakes: The Learning Curve and Practice
The learning curve is a graphical record or representation of a person’s change in rate of learning, for a specific activity, such as an online psychometric test. The curve is negatively accelerated, which means that further practicing psychometric tests improves performance but with diminishing returns. That is, the pattern generally shows rapid improvement from initial practice followed by less improvement with additional practice. The learning curve demonstrates that psychometric test performance improves and gets faster with practicing psychometric tests online. It also shows that this improvement in task performance is fairly common across tasks.
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