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Vocational Aptitude Test

A predictive test designed to measure an individual's potential for success and satisfaction in any of various occupations and professions.

As a general example, a vocational aptitude test might consist of an instrument that assesses an individual's abilities, personality characteristics, and interests, and compares the individual's responses to those persons considered to be successful in their occupations and professions, with a notation of points of similarity and dissimilarity.

Vocational aptitude tests are valuable to both employers and prospective employees in a given occupation. To the prospective employee, the test results offer guidance in choosing a particular career. To the employer, they aid in the process of screening suitable employees. Vocational aptitude tests measure a wider variety of skill areas than scholastic aptitude tests. For example, the Differential Aptitude Test, one of the most widely used vocational tests, measures verbal, numerical, abstract, and mechanical reasoning; spatial relations; clerical speed and accuracy; and language usage.

Vocational aptitude tests have three primary orientations. The interactional perspective stresses the interaction between the individual and the work environment as the determining factor in vocational success and satisfaction. The theories of John Holland and the widely used tests based on them are an example of this approach. The central focus for Holland is congruence between an individual's personality type (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional) and his or her vocational environment. Research has indicated that congruent person-environment interactions lead to personal and vocational stability and fulfillment.

Tests based on the person perspective emphasize the individual, rather than the work environment, as the crucial variable in vocational success. Theories associated with this orientation include Osipow's Trait Factor approach, focusing on personal characteristics linking an individual to various vocational groups, and Super's developmental self-concept theory, which regards vocational choice as a means of self-expression. Roe's personality theory concentrates on individuals employed in scientific fields and their relative degree of interest in people and things. Finally, the environment perspective views vocational choice and performance as primarily a function of environmental or situational factors.

Further Reading

Gale, Barry. Discover What You're Best At. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Tests & Methods