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Psychometrics is a fascinating field that you will come across frequently in school and when searching for employment. Primarily used by employers and educational institutions, psychometric testing allows one to get a detailed view of what a person can (or could) do in a working environment or academic setting.
Everyone has been exposed to a psychometric test in their life; it could have been an IQ test, a verbal comprehension test, or even a personality profile. By understanding how psychometrics tests are created, measured, and administered you can understand exactly how they help employers and institutions choose viable candidates, as well as how to prepare for them to maximize success.
Part One: What is Psychometrics?
Psychometrics is the science of measuring a subject’s abilities, knowledge, attitudes, personality traits, and level of education through testing. By measuring these traits the assessor is able to gain an “inside view” of not only what a person knows, but also what they are capable of learning and how they feel about certain situations.
History of Psychometrics
Psychometrics came as a result of theories in psychology which strove to find out if there was a way to accurately measure a person’s intelligence. Some of the first psychometric tests were developed by Sir Francis Galton in the late 1800’s, and were later improved upon by psychometricians James McKeen Cattell and Charles Spearman.
One of the most significant early contributions to psychometrics came in 1905 with the creation of the Binet-Simon Test, which was able to accurately measure a child’s mental age. This test was later improved upon by a Stanford psychologist name Lewis Terman and was renamed the Stanford-Binet Test (or Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales), which was the very first IQ Test.
Besides measuring IQ (intelligence), psychometric tests have developed over the years to also measure aptitude, ability, and even a subject’s personality traits. All of these tests and questionnaires provide keen insight into how a person reacts in certainly situations, as well as what they are capable of. The results of psychometric tests can help schools decide on which applicants to accept for enrolment, help an employer narrow down a list of candidates, and even help individuals discover what types of employment they are best suited for.
Who Uses Psychometric Tests?
Psychometric testing is most commonly used by companies looking for highly skilled workers in both the public and private sectors who see the value in screening their candidates to ensure suitability, or to help them develop.
Additionally, most higher-learning institutions use psychometric testing in order to ascertain a potential student’s academic aptitude and knowledge level. Tests such as the LSATs, SATs, and GCE-A Levels are given to graduating high school and graduate students, most are used as a benchmark to allow admission into certain schools, fields of study, and to help institutions and private charities choose scholarship candidates.
Fairness of Tests
In the field of psychometrics, the fairness of a test is paramount to ensuring that a test reliably measures what it intends to measure, no matter who is taking the test. When it comes to testing fairness is defined as the lack of bias in a test, so that the test is appropriate for all examinees, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or background.
When a psychometric test is developed, it follows strict guidelines as established by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing committee, and must be proven to be fair and free of bias prior to its introduction as an available psychometric test.
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