Aptitude testing involves estimating an individual's potential to perform a criterion of interest on the basis of measures of that individual's knowledge, skills, abilities, and other attributes. Such testing is important for selection efforts, such as determining who has the greatest likelihood of excelling in a school, career, or training program. Aptitude testing also is central to personnel classification—that is, matching individuals to jobs or job tasks on the basis of aptitudes. Since many aptitudes exhibit developmental change, aptitude testing also is important for validating theories of the nature and course of such change (English, 1998).
Assessment can be concurrent, in which case the aptitude test, or predictor, and the outside criterion against which the predictor is being validated occur at the same point in time. The assessment can be predictive. In these efforts, the predictor occurs in the present, and the criterion will occur in the future. Alternatively, the assessment can be postdictive, as when the predictor occurs in the present, and the criterion has occurred in the past.
The results of aptitude assessment can fruitfully be linked to interventions in educational, occupational, and clinical settings (Sternberg, Torff, & Grigorenko, 1998). In addition to measuring learning, tests can be agents of learning. Such learning tests are designed to foster learning during assessment (Dempster, 1997).
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