Psychometric testing as a career guidance tool

• By Vitalio Angula

PSYCHOMETRIC tests help to identify skills, knowledge and personality and also help to provide insight into how people behave at work, identify leadership potential and accurately test the general intelligence of a subject.

These tests which are used by psychological counsellors, clinical and industrial psychologist can be done in one or two days.

The tests are however, an effective tool for students to determine their future careers.

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Hilma Kasheeta, a psychological counsellor at Geluk psychologists in Windhoek, informed Confidente that there was limited knowledge and awareness of how learners and their guardians would utilise psychometric tests to not only make right career choices but also help students choose the right track to follow while in high school.

“Psychometric tests are not only available to grade twelve and eleven students who are exiting the school system but as early as grade eight. Students can make use of these tests to inform them on subjects they are most likely to perform well in”, Kasheeta told Confidente.

The three most common psychometric tests are aptitude tests, skills tests and personality tests.

According to internet sources, an aptitude test is an exam used to determine an individual’s skill or propensity to succeed in a given activity.

Aptitude tests assume that individuals have inherent strengths and weaknesses and have a natural inclination toward success or failure in specific areas based on their innate characteristics.

Skills tests measure fundamental skills such as reasoning, numerical ability, perceptual ability and verbal ability whereas personality tests determine personality and character traits and are usually administered through a questionnaire.

A good psychometric test must have three fundamental principles and these are reliability, validity and norming.

Asked whether a student who had a different aptitude but would like to conform might not be able to cheat the test by answering in a certain direction, Kasheeta said, the element of deception from a respondent had been factored into the tests which makes them reliable.

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She however admitted that a crucial part of the test was the respondent’s honesty.

Psychometric tests are available at health practitioners who are licensed by the Health Profession Council of Namibia (HPCNA) to administer them.

“Although the price could be prohibitive to some (because medical aid does not cover them), the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment does administer the tests for free for career purposes”, Kasheeta told Confidente.

Namibia University of Science (NUST) Student, Onesmus Williams, told Confidente that he had never heard of psychometric tests and does not know what the test entails.

“I really do not know what a psychometric test is. When we do seek career guidance from our guidance counsellors. We usually have one-on-one sessions with them where we would be informed of the different subjects or courses available. We also did have career guidance fairs at school and we also attended different fairs and exhibitions to inform us of career choices once we finish school but I have honestly never heard about the concept of psychometric testing,” Williams said.

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