Aptitude tests & 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. For example, aptitude test items which measure fluid intelligence require psychometric test-takers to demonstrate deductive logic or reasoning. To give you an idea, you would need deductive logic to identify common logical rules among a group of shapes. This logic would assist you to identify the odd shape (in an ‘odd one out type of question) or the next shape in a sequence.  

Research into the effects of test preparation, i.e. practice, on performance in aptitude tests has revealed overall positive results (Nijenhuis, Voskuijl & Schijve, 2001). Practice, in this context, involves both learning from one’s own experience and experience with practicing aptitude tests in preferably the same form which they are delivered in – online. A common question raised in aptitude test research is, what are the effects of practice on an applicant’s true score on their aptitude test? One answer is that errors are reduced and even eliminated due to reduced test anxiety, increased confidence and increased preparedness.

It has also been found that practicing aptitude tests online leads to substantial improvement in the test-takers’ ability, without undermining the validity (apparent truth) of the test-takers’ general intelligence scores (Nijenhuis et al., 2001). It was further concluded by these researchers that practicing for psychometric testing is a valid and useful exercise for job applicants. They linked preparation for and practicing psychometric tests to students studying for exams, in an attempt to get good grades and a good education. It was argued that familiarity with psychometric tests such as aptitude tests is important so that the test-taker is not taking the test ‘cold’. It is better for the individual test-taker to know what to expect of the psychometric testing situation.

Furthermore, in their research on the differential effects of practice and coaching on aptitude tests, Nijenhuis, Voskuijl and Schijve (2001) reported that intensive face-to-face coaching programs are not recommended, and it is only beneficial to practice the psychometric tests which you will be required to undertake during personnel testing. On the basis of their conclusions, it is more beneficial for psychometric test-takers to practice aptitude tests online. Practice versions of online aptitude tests are designed to be specifically relevant for test-takers and for the purposes of practicing aptitude tests in order to improve performance.