Spread the love

What is aptitude test? Wondering about their applications? How are they used? What do they mean to different test-takers? When and why will you take such a test or recommend one to someone? You’ll be able to answer all these questions by the time you reach the bottom of this page. These tests can be a great way of narrowing down options so as to make a choice.

This choice can be towards deciding on a higher education course or a career or a certain type of job (testing someone’s employability), assessing skill gaps between senior & junior students or just to know yourself better (what kind of person you actually are) etc.

The term aptitude is a derivative of the word “aptos” which means “fitted for”.

As you shall observe, aptitude test is also denoted as “Ap. Test” at various places across this post. Please adjust accordingly.

(Figure) What is Aptitude Test: Examples of Aptitudes measured in a person
(Figure) Examples of Aptitudes measured in a person

The Misinterpreted and Improperly Explained Term

Aptitude’ is generally a misinterpreted and improperly explained term in various texts around the world.

Know that, ‘aptitude’ is one of several competencies in a person. (competencies explained after a few lines ahead)

While there can be multiple types of assessment tests that can measure different competencies, ‘aptitude tests’ measure only the abilities in a person.

What are abilities?

Now that you know, ‘abilities’ relate to the ‘aptitudes’ in a person.

So, aptitude tests are basically ‘Abilities Test’

These tests are used to evaluate different candidates according to different parameters [like numerical, mechanical, spatial (related to space/ 3-D), language usage expertise etc.]

Let’s get into details, a bit. Not scary, at all.


Aptitudes are part of ‘competencies’ in a person.

‘Competency’ is a technical term again, in essence.

It is a sum that can be expressed as:

Competencies in a person = Interests + Aptitudes/Abilities + Skills + Personality/ Behavioral Traits + Knowledge

So basically, we can have different assessment tests for Interests, Skills, Personality, Knowledge and Aptitudes in a person. iDC has separate modules for interests, aptitudes and personality that evaluate along different yardsticks.

  • An aptitude test is widely applied for career counseling and decision-making purposes with regards to academic choices or career choices or job choices that a person can make.
  • These tests specifically determine the ‘good enough’ options for you based on your performance in the tests. In most scenarios, these tests are also clubbed with interests tests or personality tests to suggest those ‘good enough’ options with regards to academic choices or career choices or job choices you can make.
  • Alternatively, for example, “a skills test” may be applied to an employee of a company prior to evaluating her fitness as a candidate for promotion.
  • Another example, “a knowledge test” can evaluate a candidate’s appropriateness for joining a particular academic program in college/ university. Entrance exams fall in this this category (like tests administered before admission into medical, legal, engineering, management professional institutions and so on). These test specific subject-based ‘hard’ knowledge in a person (crystallized intelligence, explained briefly later).

Here, in this post, we intend to discuss only about aptitude tests and later about the basic outline of the relevant module of iDC’s career assessment framework.


Examples of Aptitudes That Can Be Measured By These Tests

Abstract ReasoningThe ability to understand ideas which are not expressed in words or numbers; the ability to understand concepts which are not clearly expressed verbally or otherwise.
Deductive ReasoningThe ability to apply general rules and common logic to specific problems to produce answers that are logical and make sense. For example, understanding the reasons behind an event or a situation using general rules and common logic.
Emotional IntelligenceThe ability to understand your own and others’ emotions and feelings; empathy for others; adjusting your behaviour or self-control and self-regulation according to others’ emptions and situations.
Inductive ReasoningThe ability to combine pieces of information from various sources, concepts, and theories to form general rules or conclusions. For example, analysing various events or situations to come out with a set of rules or conclusions.
Inter-Personal AbilityThe ability to build and maintain good relationships with others at workplaces and elsewhere.
Intrapersonal AbilityThe ability to clearly understand your strengths and weaknesses, what your capabilities are, what you can do and cannot do, what you like and dislike.
Mechanical ReasoningThe ability to apply basic physical principles and theories to understand how mechanical objects such as tools and machinery works and the ability to understand the rules or laws governing the work of machinery, tools and bodies in motion.
Numerical ReasoningThe ability to add, subtract, multiply, divide, and perform other basic numerical calculations correctly.
Perceptual SpeedThe ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
Verbal ReasoningThe ability to think and reason with words; the ability to reason out ideas expressed in words.

What are the Competencies in a Person – In Focus

What are competencies of a person? What are your competencies?

**Competencies in a person = Interests + Aptitudes/Abilities + Skills + Personality/ Behavioral Traits + Knowledge**

So basically, we can have different assessment tests for Interests, Skills, Personality, Knowledge and Aptitudes.

iDC has separate modules for interests, aptitudes and personality that evaluate along different yardsticks.

Just so you know as an example, “a skills test” may be applied to an employee of a company prior to evaluating her fitness as a candidate for promotion.

Similarly, on another dimension, “a knowledge test” can evaluate a candidate’s appropriateness for joining a particular academic program in college/ university. Entrance exams fall in this category. These test specific subject-based ‘hard’ knowledge in a person.


**Competencies in a person = Interests + Aptitudes/Abilities + Skills + Personality/ Behavioral Traits + Knowledge**

  • Out of the competencies in a person, Knowledge refers to what you gain from a training & is a result of your “hard skills” (learned/ earned capacities in a person acquired & enhanced through practice, repetition, and education).
  • The others are some common ‘already present’ competencies (interests, abilities/ aptitudes, skills, personalities). This partly constitutes your ‘fluid intelligence’ (explained briefly later). So, aptitude test results are a measure of part of your fluid intelligence and the other part is measured by interests/ skills/ personality etc. tests.
  • These inherent competency types (interests, abilities/ aptitudes, skills, personalities) are attributed to your “temporal (with time) progression of knowledge” and are part of cognitive development through your childhood.
  • For example, numerical reasoning questions in an aptitude test are not exactly about formulae or equations. You will need at least an average level of aptitudes for such basic mathematical/ analytical approaches to formulate your answers to these questions.

I will try to explain the concepts involved, the various applications, the multiples types of these tests, brief attributes of iDreamCareer’s “Ap. test” and more in this post. Hang on! You are about to discover the many myth busters no one ever said to you.


“There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.”

— Ray Goforth

So, what is aptitude test roughly?

  • Aptitude tests assess a test-taker’s propensity or tendency to succeed in a given activity.
  • It does not test what you know literally; it is not a test for which you can study & prepare for.

These tests are typically applied in a combination so they don’t measure how good you are in one dimension or one thing, rather what you are good at among multiple dimensions and then helps you or a tester reach a conclusion regarding your combined strengths & weaknesses.

Aptitude Tests Partly Evaluate Human Fluid Intelligence

What is fluid intelligence?

Ap. test results are a measure of part of your fluid intelligence.

Other parts of your fluid intelligence are measured by tests of interests/ skills/ personality etc.

Let’s understand a bit about human intelligence.

Human intelligence is about experiencing-understanding-acquiring-applying the acquired knowledge and ability to adapt to a situation & influence the surroundings.

  • Human Intelligence = Cognitive Intelligence + Emotional Intelligence

Cognitive Intelligence = (attention, memory, judgment and reasoning) + (create new knowledge based on existing knowledge)

Emotional Intelligence = (differentiate among different emotions) + (perceiving, using, understanding and managing emotions)

  • Cognitive Intelligence = Fluid Intelligence (Gf) + Crystalized Intelligence (Gc)

Gf = (spontaneous wit) + (problem-solving abilities using abstract reasoning) + (all that doesn’t depend on acquired knowledge)

Gc = (acquired knowledge and skills through practice and learning) + (gained through education and learning)

To sum up,

Results of Ap. tests:

(i) Are indicative of one’s potentialities

(ii) Help to know what you may do in future (short-term, long-term goals)

(iii) Are a combination of both inborn capacities and developed capacities

(iv) Can be used to capture a unique or unusual potential of an individual

(v) Indicate a present condition but with a forward/ futuristic reference and relevance

Various Types of Aptitude Tests

There are a number of these tests available in the market today.

We can comfortably classify all of them into 2 broad categories/ combinations:

  1. Aptitude Tests Batteries – used to assess multiple separate aptitudes of students and adults
    • Differential Aptitude Tests (DATs) battery was among the firsts to be published in 1947 by The Psychological Corporation
    • There are many other tests like DAT. Such as David’s Battery of Aptitude. Then few developed by Indian Psychologists.
  2. Special Aptitude Tests – scientific, clerical, artistic, professional, motor dexterity, literary aptitudes etc.

 Aptitude Tests Batteries

Aptitude Tests Batteries include subtests that typically assess 8 important aptitudes.

(i) Verbal reasoning

  • Understanding ideas expressed in words
  • Clearly thinking and reasoning with words

(ii) Numerical ability

  • Understanding ideas expressed in numbers
  • Clearly thinking and reasoning with numbers

(iii) Abstract reasoning

  • Understanding ideas that are not expressed in words or numbers
  • Thinking out problems even when there are no words to guide you

(iv) Space relations/ Spatial Recognition

  • Visualizing, or forming mental pictures of solid objects from looking at flat paper plans
  • Thinking in three dimensions

(v) Mechanical reasoning

  • Grasping common principles of physics as you see them in everyday life
  • Understanding laws governing simple machinery, tools and bodies in motion

(vi) Spelling

  • Recognising correct and incorrect spellings of common English words (can be any other language too, originally developed in English)

(vii) Language usage

  • Using the English language (can be any other language too, originally developed in English)
  • Handling punctuation, capitalisation, and choice of words in a language

(viii) Clerical/Perceptual speed and accuracy

  • Tests how fast and how efficiently you can do any kind of paperwork that is so important in all offices, stores, scientific laboratories, warehouses, basically wherever records are made, filed or checked

Special Aptitude Tests:

Special Aptitude Tests are designed to look at your capacity in a particular area such as your ability to do routine clerical work or measure your art & aesthetic senses or musical talent or literary inclinations (like poetry, riddles), professional aptitudes (like SAT / Scholastic Assessment Test of USA and so on), motor dexterity tests, sensory tests, visual and auditory tests etc.

  • For some you need to be prepared because you want a high score among competitors and the result is binding on you for your academic choices.
  • For some, you need not be competing with anyone, say suppose when your physicians are to make some very important decisions regarding future medical therapy choices etc. You don’t need a high score, you will much rather need a valid score.
  • For some, you will want a high score and will be competing but you literally cannot be prepared, per se, say suppose when you’re being tested for your physical abilities needed for a specific job such as a firefighter or a police officer. This will be very different from Ap. tests given before hiring a computer programmer!

Uses of Aptitude Tests

  •  College/ University Admissions
  • Career Counselling and vocational guidance (For those not sure about what kind of college/ job they want or where they want to go next in their career)

Choices made here will lead to your career ahead. Used to finalise future academic choices and career paths. Used to guide a student toward specific courses, for example, that prepare them for engineering or designing studies in college or in computer science, finance, or other fields.

  • Candidate selection for a job/ employment

Many offices, third-party recruiters, competitive exams for a job (like railways, banks etc.) company HRs, interviewers and placement cells use these to learn more about a prospective employee/ candidate’s strengths and weaknesses before making hiring/ placement decisions. Ap. tests can also be used within a company for making decisions about promotions.

  • Personnel development – for training/ evaluating workforce within a business

A specific kind of Ap. test that helps to predict how an employee might respond to specific situations in the workplace or administered with a goal of grooming an employee towards certain future responsibilities etc.

What does a Student Need from These Tests?

How can they help a student? In what ways are they useful to a student?

Here we have listed few things you may want to consider or bear in mind while taking a test as a student or recommending a test to a student:

  • They can help a student choose educational and career options on the basis of strengths and weaknesses.
  • They can help a student to understand better why they do well/poorly in some subjects. Ap. tests can objectively measure abilities and prowess according to subtests mentioned above.
  • They can broaden a student’s horizons by suggesting new and expanded career options consistent with tested abilities.
  • They can raise the level of occupational aspirations or change her direction of thought. Can suggest, to you, new career options that you had not previously considered.
  • They can motivate an underachieving student by identifying strengths that were unrecognised or underestimated.
  • They can supplement existing achievement data to facilitate admission to educational courses or apprenticeships. Can change or raise your educational and career aspirations.

Small, noteworthy notes in a table!

The test results should be viewed with extreme caution and should not be interpreted as final indisputable evidence of test-taker’s abilities.
The results provide only one small part of the information needed to help you make informed & realistic decisions and should be judged in isolation from other aspects like family, social or environmental influences.
Finally, it needs to be remembered that you can have hard/high aptitude for a particular area but have no interest in it, and contrarywise, you may have low/soft aptitude in an area but have extreme liking or interest for it.

Aptitude Test Question Samples

These sample questions are slightly harder than the real deal, in order to make them sufficiently challenging.

When the actual time comes, you shall be finding the questions easier.

Aptitude test questions: Logical Reasoning question example

What is aptitude test: Logical Reasoning Ques Eg.
Logical Reasoning Ques Eg.

Aptitude test questions: Verbal ability question example

What is aptitude test: Verbal Ability Ques Eg.
Verbal Ability Ques Eg.

Aptitude test questions: Numerical Reasoning question example

What is aptitude test: Numerical Reasoning Ques Eg.
Numerical Reasoning Ques Eg.

Aptitude test questions: Inductive Reasoning question example

What is aptitude test: Inductive Reasoning Ques Eg.
Inductive Reasoning Ques Eg.

Aptitude test questions: Abstract Reasoning question example

What is aptitude test: Abstract Reasoning Ques Eg.
Abstract Reasoning Ques Eg.

iDC’s Aptitude Test

We, at iDC, have designed a set of competency-specific career assessment solutions that are driven by statistical data insights. Only a well-crafted career aptitude test that includes all the essential elements of human intelligence, like ours, can deliver the intended results you want.
We understand the importance of identifying the key abilities in a student, which is why our career aptitude test ensures a thorough evaluation with insightful results.
iDC’s Test

The aptitude testing module of iDC’s career assessment framework precisely evaluates a student’s abilities (classes 9th / 10th or 11th / 12th, undergraduate) with respect to globally accepted standards (theories explained in brief later)

iDC’s suggestion mechanism passes through a 3-dimensional career fitment analytics system (aptitudes, personalities, interests) that gives you a 3-pronged result.

Suitable career recommendations are made in terms of all three dimensions taken separately as well as 3 combined.


iDC’s Assessment is Based on 3 Dimensions (A, B, C below) of a Test Taker.

The in-house tests for classes 9-12 for iDC Career Guidance Program are divided to evaluate a student’s:

  1. Aptitudes: modeled on the lines of Cattel-Horn-Carroll’s (CHC) Theory of 3-stratum structure of intelligence [Stratum I: narrow abilities, Stratum II: broad ability, and Stratum III: consisting of a single ‘general ability’]
    • CHC theory is narrowed down to Verbal Aptitude, Numerical Aptitude, Reasoning Aptitude,        Spatial, and Mechanical Aptitude
  2. Personality: modeled on the lines of Five Factor Model (FFM) as developed by Costa and Mc Crae, also well known as the “Big Five Factor Model” or the “OCEAN Model”
    • FFM theory’s 5 verticals are Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism
  3. Interest: based upon the Holland’s theory of Vocations
    • This RIASEC theory classifies individuals based upon 6 basic interest types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional

The Choice of Theoretical Model for iDC’s Aptitude Test

Why aptitude test?

The purpose of constructing aptitude tests is to assess different aptitudes that an individual possesses so as to facilitate an understanding of the acquired abilities and to utilise the same towards making career decisions.

Why CHC theory?

Our choice of nominating the Cattel-Horn-Carroll’s (CHC) Theory of 3-stratum structure of intelligence was guided by an extensive review of literature pertaining to the past and current models developed by researchers in area of Intelligence and cognitive abilities.

Cattel-Horn-Carroll’s (CHC) Theory proposes that there are a fairly large number of distinct individual differences in cognitive abilities. It further indicates that the relationships amongst these abilities can be derived by classifying them into three different strata:

  • Stratum I: narrow abilities
  • Stratum II : broad ability
  • Stratum III : consisting of a single ‘general ability’

Carroll’s model is currently the most widely accepted model of cognitive abilities in the psychological community (Sternberg, 2004).

The CHC theory is the most comprehensive and empirically supported psychometric theory of the structure of cognitive and academic abilities.

  • Cattell believed that fluid intelligence included inductive and deductive reasoning abilities that were influenced by biological and neurological factors, as well as incidental learning through interaction with the environment.
  • He postulated further that crystallized intelligence consisted primarily of acquired knowledge abilities that reflected, to a large extent, the influences of acculturation.
To make it a comprehensive test for measuring student cognitive abilities, the most critical factors from CHC theory were taken which play a critical role in determining performance across job profiles across different career fields.
Cognitive abilities in CHC theory were then narrowed down to Verbal Aptitude, Numerical Aptitude, Reasoning Aptitude, Spatial and Mechanical Aptitude.
Research evidence indicates that these abilities play a significant role in influencing performance of tasks and activities across different career profiles.
Why CHC theo was used?

After You Take All 3 of Our Tests,

You will be suggested 5 or more top career choices based upon your scores in each of the dimensional assessments. This represents how each dimension type corresponds to different career fields.

Test-takers also receive suggestions corresponding to their scores in two of the dimensions taken together at a time.

Finally, the report also highlights the overall fitment to broad career clusters with respect to all 3 dimensions taken together.

We have a 3-pronged suggestion concept:

  • Best suited career clusters with respect to each dimension
  • Best suited career clusters with respect to 2 dimensions taken at a time
  • Best suited broad career clusters with respect to all 3 dimensions taken together

It’s a Wrap!

Finally, you’ve arrived at the point where you can answer all those questions that this post started with (go back if you wish!). You should also be prompt when randomly asked “what is aptitude test?”!

I’ve tried to elucidate all important facts & stuff that you need to bear in mind while you are researching about aptitude tests or about to take one or recommending one. The most prominent aptitude tests in the market today are the career choosing ones.

Understanding the intricacies of any career is not child’s play. It requires experiential assessment of competencies (skills, abilities, knowledge & a lot more). So, career counselling is an indispensable tool for all young minds given the harsh industry dynamics today and we are India’s leading provider in this space. iDC is also one of the world’s foremost test-administrator in career design.

Useful Links

We hope this article helped you get familiar with aptitude tests. You can reach out for a free chat with our experts at iDC for personalised support and advice on how to build a successful career ahead.

×