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Psychometric Testing – Is it for you?

by Robyn Tichauer

You’re in a bit of a pickle. You have no idea what to do with your life. You’ve heard of psychometric testing, but you’re not sure what it is and everyone has different opinions about it. To clear things up, Robyn lays out all the pros and cons to help you decide whether or not you should take one.

You find yourself quickly approaching the end of the year. Decisions for which you thought you had plenty of time are fast nearing their deadlines. What on earth do you do? Your future depends on some of these decisions and it scares the crackers out of you.

Fear no more. Something previously unconsidered may in fact be the answer for you – two words which may, in your time of desperation, sound like angelic singing to your ears: psychometric testing.

You’ve probably heard various different opinions on psychometric tests. Some are for it, some against. You’re trying to figure out whether or not it will be a wise decision to take a psychometric test. I decided to do the research for you and lay out all the pros and cons so you can see and decide for yourself whether it’s for you.

So… What is it?

“Psychometric tests usually focus on the domains of: aptitude, personality, career interests, and career values,” explains counselling psychologist Kerry Acheson.

It is commonly used by companies who are interviewing prospective employees to see if they suit the job and will be able to cope with the expectations of that job. It gives them detailed explanations on the psychological side and psyche of the applicant. This means that it’ll work for students who do not know what to study.

Who can use it?

Psychologists understand that this is a scary time for students. Plenty of young people need to make HUGE decisions they aren’t ready to make. This test has been around for hundreds of years but has only increased in popularity in the last 50 years.

Whether you’re in Grade 9 struggling to choose subjects, a matric student who still doesn’t know what to study, a university drop-out or a graduate with no idea what career to pursue, this is for you.

There are online psychometric tests that you can do. Some of them are free and others you need to pay for. The free ones are generally very basic and do not include all of the aspects a psychometric test generally includes. Be sure to do a test that is holistic and measures every aspect of your aptitude, personality and intelligence. If you are weary of doing a test online, make an appointment with a psychologist who does these tests with you. He or she can answer all of your questions after the test, and you don’t need to send emails back and forth, which could take ages.

From the Mouth of a Pro

Kerry Acheson is a Claremont based counselling psychologist who offers assessments and therapy.

No single test is able to fully account for the uniqueness of an individual, and no test can determine exactly which job or course is suited to a person. However, psychometric testing can assist people to attain more self-awareness and clarity when exploring career options. In a career assessment, psychometric tests usually focus on the domains of: aptitude, personality, career interests, and career values.

The results of such an assessment help people to be more aware of their personal strengths, weaknesses, preferences and priorities. In turn, this empowers individuals to make more effective and informed choices. I have students, as young as Grade 9, requesting a preliminary career assessment in order to assist with making subject choices. Other people seek a career assessment in order to help with changing courses at university or embarking on a career transition later in life.

But… What if it doesn’t work?

Each person is different and every persons brain is wired differently. Which means what works for one person, won’t work for another. Psychologists are still struggling to understand certain mental disorders like dementia and schizophrenia, never mind how each individuals mind works. It just isn’t possible. So there is a risk that you still won’t know what to do at the end of a psychometric test, but you won’t NOT get nothing out of it.  It will still give you an overview of your personality, interests and help create self-awareness, as Kerry says, which can help you in the future or in the long run.

The Yays and Nays of Psychometric Testing

Get a better idea of what to do after school

  • Get a better understanding of yourself
  • Get more confidence on the decision you have made or will make
  • If it doesn’t give you a direct answer, it can eliminate some options and shorten your list
  • Measure your interests and personality against your aptitude (it provides an answer that considers all aspects)
  • Save the time of trial and error by getting an answer in one setting
  • If you’re expecting a simple, direct answer, you will probably be disappointed
  • It’s time-consuming
  • Can be quite pricey if you go to a psychologist
  • Can leave you feeling disappointed if it is not what you wanted or expected
  • It could confuse you
  • Results could clash with what your parents want for you

You should weigh up the options and decide what would work best for you. There are some people who say that psychometric testing doesn’t work, while others are completely satisfied with the results and happy they went for the test.

I did the test myself and haven’t regretted it for a second. Others I have spoken to are either completely satisfied or were expecting more specified answers, but they are still happy they did it. For many, it led them in the right direction and they now have careers which they love. So dig around, find some people who have done it or look at online forums.

  • Do some phoning around. Don’t settle at the first practice that offers it. Some places charge outrageous amounts, while others are more affordable
  • If you have medical aid – find out if they cover psychometric testing, some do cover it.
  • If you do it or have done it, let us know about your experience so that other people who want to do it can hear about it first-hand.
  • There are tons of tests available on the Internet. Some of them are free, while others you need to pay for. The free online tests are generally not as comprehensive.

EduConnect 2Cents

Psychometric testing will not be helpful to everyone. It all depends on what type of person you are and what your expectations of the test are. Go into the test hoping for the best, but expecting the worst so that you are not disappointed. Don’t expect to walk out with the answers to your life questions – they are not written in stone. Ask around and see what people’s opinions of it are and if they have any recommendations for you. This could be a very helpful tool, so use every resource you have if you are confused about your future.

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