Aptitude tests have changed a lot over the past two decades. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, the phrase aptitude test was first used in 1919. Merriam Webster states that an aptitude test is “a standardized test designed to predict an individual’s ability to learn certain skills.” An aptitude test should measure your ABILITY TO LEARN. These tests were not originally designed to test your knowledge or to see how ‘smart’ you are in a given subject.
Other dictionaries and encyclopedias (which we believe are the only true sources of knowledge) indicate that aptitude tests measure a person’s ability to acquire skills through future training. Fast forward to current times and we have a much different definition. Many companies utilize aptitude tests to measure your ability to perform a specific job. They test your knowledge of the particular job, assuming you already know how to do it! That’s not an aptitude test. A true aptitude test measures your ability to learn certain skills.
Apart from the real aptitude tests are the academic aptitude tests. The most well-known academic aptitude test is the SAT. Academic aptitude tests measure your knowledge of a subject as acquired through learning. They do not measure your ability to learn any particular skill.
A few tests measure your aptitude and academic knowledge. The most well-known is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB test. Some of the ASVAB subject tests measure your ability to learn certain skills by testing your mechanical knowledge and ability to assemble objects. Other subject tests in the ASVAB measure your academic knowledge as acquired from previous learning.
Most of today’s career counselors claim that career aptitude tests are “real” aptitude tests but we disagree. A test that measures your knowledge of a given subject is an academic test. It’s not an aptitude test. The correct term for this types of test would be a “career assessment test.” Career assessment tests measure your existing knowledge to determine the field or job for which you would best be suited. If the test assesses your ability, it’s an aptitude test. if it assesses your knowledge, it’s an academic test.