Examples of Psychological Tests

NOTE: The following are examples of some well-known tests.
They are used for illustrative purposes only.
This does not constitute an endorsement of any one test over another.

Cognitive Ability Test

An ability is the person's capability to perform or learn to perform a particular task (Spector, 2006). A cognitive ability test assesses an individual's capability or aptitude to perform the job and to solve job-related problems. Cognitive ability tests use questions or problems to measure the person's ability to learn quickly, think logically, as well as reasoning ability, and reading comprehension, skills which are fundamental to performing a job. An IQ test is probably the most well-known of the cognitive ability tests, which measure a person's general intelligence. There are also ability tests to measure other abilities such as mathematical or verbal ability.

Cognitive ability tests are among the most valid of all selection tests (Gatewood, Feild, & Barrick, 2008). They have been found to be a powerful predictors of job performance (Schmidt, 2002) as well as performance in training (Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Schmidt & Hunter, 1998).

Example: Ravens Progressive Matrices

The Ravens Progressive Matrices is a cognitive ability test. It has five different versions: The Coloured Progressive Matrices, The Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM), The Advanced Progressive Matrices, The Mill Hill Vocabulary Scale, and The Crichton Vocabulary Scale. Here we will focus on The Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) as one of our examples of cognitive ability test.

The APM was published in 1962 after several rounds of revision. It was developed to measure educative ability: the ability to make meaning out of confusion, to educe relationships to solve problems from information presented in abstract shapes. It is claimed to be one of the most widely used nonverbal reasoning tests and it is often used as benchmark for other tests of reasoning ability. It is intended for use in both educational and occupational settings. One major factor in its popularity is that it is uncontaminated by linguistic background due to the fact that the test only involves abstract shapes.

There are two forms, Set I and Set II. Set I is a 12-item test which is a shorter form that covers all intellectual processes needed to answer all questions in Set II. The short form can serve as an introductory or practice item or be used to sort out the "dullest" 10% and the "brightest" 10% to decide whether the SPM or APM should be used for later follow-up. Set II has 36 items. The level of difficulty increases with each item steadily and can be quite complex at the later part of the test. The Ravens APM is a supervised test that can be done either by paper-and-pencil or on the computer. The test can be administered as timed (5 minutes for Set I and 40 minutes for Set II) or untimed. The scoring takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes. The score will then be summed up and translated to percentiles. The percentile scores are then compared to the relevant norm group.


Test re-test reliability of the 40-minute timed version ranged from .76 to .86 for children sample and it was .91 for adult sample. Internal reliabilitywas around r= .83 to .87.


Construct validity ranged from .40 to .44 for other verbal tests such as the Wechsler Verbal IQ and Terman Concept Mastery and .44 to .62 for other non-verbal tests such as Wechsler Performance IQ and Minnesota Paper Formboard. Criterion Validity was established by comparing APM score with school grades, arithmetic test, and math achievements, and the validity coefficient ranged from .3 to .5.

Example: The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test was published in 1993. It is designed to measure the job-related verbal and quantitative skills of teenagers and adults who are looking for entry-level positions, or those who are entering vocational training programs.

The test has two subtests, The Test of Verbal Skills and The Test of Quantitative Skills. There are two equivalent forms for each subtest: VS-1 and VS-2 for Verbal Test with forty-five questions each, and QS-1 and QS-2 for Quantitative Test with fifty questions each. Each subtest requires approximately five minutes for instructions and practice questions and twenty minutes testing time; thus the total administration time is about twenty-five minutes. The test is to be administered in a paper-and-pencil format. The scoring is done by entering the answers from the answer sheet into a quick scoring program which accompanies the test. A score report can then be generated.


Test re-test reliability ranged from .87 to .92 for the verbal skill test, and .86 to .89 for the quantitative skill test. Parallel form reliability ranged from .89 to .93 for the verbal skill test, and .83 to .89 for the quantitative skill test. Internal reliability ranged from .90 to .96.


Criterion validity is demonstrated by the high correlation of the test scores with levels of academic achievement for the 6th grade through four years of college or postsecondary education.

Example: Short Employment Tests

The Short Employment Tests (SET) was published in 1951. It has three five-minute subtests including Numerical, Verbal, and Clerical Aptitude to predict performance in clerical and administrative jobs. All three subtests are timed tests which place restrictive time limits on the test takers. The whole test battery can be finished within twenty minutes.

The Verbal Test has fifty items to test word knowledge or vocabulary. It is to assess the test takers' general cognitive ability. The Numerical Test consists of ninety short arithmetic problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of numbers. The Clerical Aptitude Test has sixty items. The test takers have to find a name in a list and then read and write down a dollar figure which corresponds to the name. This assesses how fast and accurately the test takers can handle materials such as a telephone directory and correspondence files on the job.

The SET test can easily be scored by using the hand-scoring keys. Each subtest has its own scoring key. The score for each test is the number of questions answered correctly. Then the scores are to be compared with the appropriate norm group.


The test re-test reliability coefficient was .84 for the Verbal Test, .75 for the Numerical Test, and .71 for the Clerical Aptitude Test. Parallel form reliability coefficient was .88 for the Verbal Test, .87 for the Numerical Test, and .81 for the Clerical Aptitude Test.


Criterion validity is demonstrated by the correlations between the total score of the test and general clerical tests (r=.65). For the subtests, the validity coefficient was found to be .60 for verbal test, .63 for numerical test, and .81 for clerical aptitude test.