Discover your true strengths

Discover your true strengths

Today, children have become more independent and are aware of what they want to become as a working professional. However, there are times when they are unable to choose the right course owing to many reasons. The confusion of which course to take, at times, may lead to students making a wrong choice. Hence, it is important for students to think about their abilities, skills, personality and interest before picking up a course or profession.

A systematic way of finding out one's aptitude is by taking a set of tests which include aptitude, personality, interest, intelligence and study habits. One must also understand what these tests are and why are they important. There is a lack of awareness among students, parents, teachers, educational institutions as to what these tests are and why they should be taken.

Let's take a look at how these tests help students make a good career choice. Aptitude tests are standardised tests that are designed to help determine a student's ability in a particular skill or field of knowledge. Each of the tests ask a variety of questions that may not be asked in a regular test.

Different tests

Aptitude is the inherent ability or talent of a person to perform a task. There are different abilities present at different levels in an individual. One such aptitude test that throws light on this is David's Battery of Differential Abilities. This test gives a measure of an individual's various mental abilities in eight different areas. These are:

Verbal ability: This measures one's ability to comprehend words and ideas, and the ability to understand written language. It is aimed at evaluating the student's ability to think constructively. The test will predict with reasonable accuracy, a student's success in fields where complex verbal relationships and concepts are important. Vocationally, this will indicate a career that a student may thrive in since there is a positive relationship in many occupations between the level of responsibility and the complexity of verbally phrased ideas that need to be comprehended.

Numerical ability: This measures the student's ability to reason with numbers, to manipulate numerical relationships, and to deal intelligently with quantitative materials. Along with the verbal ability test, numerical ability test acts as a measure of general learning ability. Education-wise, it is important for predictions in such fields as science, engineering and other fields in which quantitative thinking is essential.

Closure ability: This involves the ability to perceive relationships in abstract figures and education of principles from non-language designs.

Spatial ability: This is a measure of ability to perceive spatial patterns accurately. The ability to visualise a constructed object from a picture of a pattern has been used frequently in tests of structural visualisation. Similarly, the ability to imagine how an object would appear if rotated in various ways has been used effectively in the measurement of space perception. There are many vocations in which one is required to imagine how an object would look if made from a given pattern.  

Mechanical ability: This measures logic and one's understanding of basic mechanical principles. High scores on this test indicate that the student finds it easy to learn the principles of operation and repair of complex devices. The test is useful in occupations where an appreciation of the principles of common physical forces is required. High scores on this test indicate an aptitude for physical sciences, technical and manual training courses.

Clerical ability: This measures one's ability to type, sort and file documents correctly and sorting variables in a particular order. This is intended to measure the speed of response in a simple perceptual task. This test places a heavy premium on speed. The ability to do routine work of the kind which this test exemplifies is important in coding, stock room work and such other occupations.

Reasoning ability: This refers to the ability to apply the process of induction or to reason from some specific information to a general principle. The scores on this test will be a good indicator of non-verbal, non-culturally biased intelligence. Reasoning is important for success in many areas particularly those that stress on logic such as law.

Psycho-motor ability: This refers to precise movements that require eye-hand coordination under fast working conditions. The test scores are relevant for success in assembly line work, drafting, clerical jobs etc.

Holistic approach

Apart from figuring out what your abilities are through this test, here are a few other tests that help students find out their aptitudes more accurately:

Personality test: The most distinctive feature of any individual is his or her personality. This is the overall pattern or integration of his or her structures, modes of behaviour, interests, attitudes, intellectual abilities, aptitudes and other distinguishable characteristics. Personality tests are designed to measure personality traits. One's personality traits are equally important to be successful in any career.

Intelligence test: An intelligence test measures differences in performance. Intelligence tests help an individual understand the ability to take up a particular course.

Interest test: Students must have interest in the career they choose. We come across lot of students who are forced into courses which don't interest them. By identifying the interest areas, it would help the counsellor guide the student appropriately.

Study habits test: Regular study habits are essential to maintain a consistent record. To regularise the study habits, this test is administered.

By taking these tests and finding out the strengths and weaknesses scientifically, a lot of problems that the students may face in future can be avoided. Hence, students and parents must keep in mind that planning is very important while deciding a career. Assessment followed by proper guidance would be the most appropriate way to move forward while deciding on higher education or choosing a profession.

By finding out appropriate areas of interest through these tests, students can choose appropriate career paths when they are at crossroads.

(The author is director, Manasa Consultants, Bengaluru)

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