The word “test” usually provokes feelings of stress and angst within a person, and most definitely has a negative connotation within most minds. This is probably due to the fact that most tests require time commitment, large amounts of preparation and solid comprehension of material. Everyone experiences academic testing at some point, whether it be for a class or standardized testing for college admissions. These scores can help students better understand how well they know the material for a class or how they rank compared to fellow students.

There is another type of testing, however, which many may not be familiar with, and may also help someone gain more understanding about his or herself. This type of testing is called aptitude testing. An aptitude test helps individuals find the inherent strengths and weaknesses which will make them naturally inclined toward success or failure in certain areas.

Aptitudes are natural capabilities you are born with, they are hereditary and cannot be learned in the traditional sense. A few of examples of these talents and abilities would be memory for design, spatial thinking and flow of ideas. These capabilities are skills that are widely used in real life, whether in school or in the workplace. As mentioned before, these natural talents may help certain people excel in certain subjects or fields.

Aptitudes can be identified through a series of activities such as assembling blocks, remembering numbers and solving puzzles. Additionally, these tests cannot be studied for and the majority of these tests will not require pencil or paper. The biggest difference between academic and aptitude testing is that while one can do well or poorly on a traditional test, there is no way to “fail” an aptitude test. Aptitudes are scored on a scale of low to high and a low score is not to say anything inferior about the person tested. Instead, a low score is actually just an indication that the person does not possess a certain talent. No one can be talented at everything, after all.

You might be asking yourself why you would want to take an aptitude test. At the very least, this test can help you understand what your natural strengths and weaknesses are. Scoring high in analytic reasoning might explain why literary analysis essays always come just a bit easier for you than for others. Scoring low in flow of ideas might explain why it takes more time for you to formulate an idea for a project, or why you feel like you might not be as creative as some of your peers. After taking a test and understanding your results, you no longer have to wonder whether you are talented at a certain skill — your scores will speak for themselves.

This information can be taken a step further and be put to even better use. It turns out, those who excel in specific careers show certain patterns in their aptitudes. Certain aptitudes prove more useful in certain careers than others. So, aptitude tests are a great option for those who are not quite set on a career. An example of a career with a certain set of aptitudes would be engineering. Aptitudes which are a good fit for engineering are attention to detail, memory for design and spatial thinking.

When one’s aptitudes match skills they need to do well on the job, tasks will come more naturally to them. Of course, every job requires hard work. However, someone who takes on a job which is a good match for their set of aptitudes will feel that it is easier to excel at their work. Many may also feel that work is more enjoyable, another factor which may make someone feel more satisfied in their career paths.

These tests are not only helpful for those who are searching for prospective careers, or trying to see if they should switch careers. In fact, this can help kids and students of all ages as well. Taking an aptitude test can help students strategically decide what classes or extracurriculars to enroll in, and prevent kids from blindly choosing classes or having parents pick for them. If students know what they are talented at, they can pick classes or activities which will put their aptitudes to good use and help them find and develop their interests. Picking activities which are a good fit for a student’s aptitudes will get them more motivated and enthusiastic about that certain activity. Knowing one’s aptitudes can even help them pick a college or major in college, helping them either find a good fit for a learning environment post high school.

An aptitude test is usually administered by a proctor who conducts the activities, who will observe and score whoever is taking the test. Testing time depends on the specific organization which conducts the test, and how they have specifically structured the activities of the test. Aptitude tests must be taken in person and cannot be taken online like basic personality tests or career interest tests. This is because personality and career interest tests are usually questionnaires, whereas the specific activities of an aptitude test are very hard to simulate online. The necessity of an in person test taking session, as well as the lack of test administering locations, make aptitude testing relatively difficult to access in the Bay Area.

The closest location which offers aptitude testing in the Bay Area is the Johnson O’Conner Research Foundation in San Francisco. Anyone can take the test by simply scheduling three appointments. The test is split into two three hour appointments, followed by one consulting session afterwards to review and help someone understand his or her results. The foundation offers free follow up visits for a year to answer any remaining questions one might have about his or her results.

As said by the founder, Johnson O’Conner himself, “The individual who knows his own aptitudes, and their relative strengths, chooses more intelligently among the world’s host of opportunities.” You might just learn a little something or two about yourself through your aptitudes.

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