Aptitudes are special abilities for learning to do certain kinds of things easily and quickly. Some examples of aptitudes are finger dexterity, musical ability, color perception, spatial visualization, inductive reasoning and memory of numbers.
Aptitude testing can help you find out what kinds of skills and natural abilities that you have, and why certain occupations or educational paths may be more appropriate for you. These measured traits are highly stable over long periods of time. Unlike an IQ score, your aptitude test results from a pattern showing your various strengths and weaknesses. Two people can have identical IQ scores but very different aptitude patterns.
The Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, Inc. is an independent, nonprofit organization in several U.S. cities that offers a variety of aptitude tests. The Foundation is the outgrowth of a testing program begun in 1922 by Mr. Johnson O'Connor for the General Electric Company. In the 1920's, being a meter assembler was considered to be a good career, but the training process was relatively expensive for GE. O'Connor came up with a simple test to see who would be a good meter assembler after training.
This particular test involved a ceramic block with 100 holes in it, some nails, a pair of tweezers, and a stopwatch. Anyone who could insert more than a certain number of brads in the holes within two minutes usually turned out to be a good meter assembler, and anyone who could insert just slightly fewer did not - regardless of the amount of training. The program was so successful that the families and friends of the employees asked to be tested. In 1939, it was incorporated as an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization that now operates in 11 U.S. cities. The Johnson O'Connor Foundation now offers a series of some 20 tests, taken over two days, that reveals your strengths and interests. The Foundation then compares your test profile with the aptitudes needed in hundreds of different careers.
A typical person only knows their aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses in a general way, from experience. "We find that most people know more about their automobiles than they know about themselves," said Orrin Spellman, a spokesperson for Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. The Foundation's testing program is based on the belief that people are happiest doing what they do best in that every occupation requires a unique combination of talents. "We aim for a square peg in a square hole," said Spellman. Detectives and inspectors, for instance, must be good at noticing details. Stockbrokers and salespeople must remember numbers easily. Architects and cartoonists naturally remember designs. Each of these aptitudes are obviously different. The Foundation has found that a person can be a good at one, but lousy at another.
Here are several of the aptitude tests that the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation
offers, along with a brief description of each:
Analytical reasoning- the ability to organize concepts or to arrange ideas in logical sequence.
Inductive reasoning- the ability to reason from the particular to the general, to form a logical conclusion from scattered facts, and to see the "big picture."
Structural visualization- the ability to visualize the structure of three-dimensional forms.
Graphoria- clerical ability, or adeptness at paperwork and dealing with figures and symbols.
Color perception- the ability to distinguish colors.
Numerical aptitudes- the ability to use numerical information in solving problems and to perform arithmetic operations.
Music aptitudes- the ability to remember rhythms and tone sequences, and to distinguish between fine differences in pitch.
Memory aptitudes- the ability to remember designs and numbers, learn new words, and spot changes or irregularities.
Finger dexterity- a quickness and accuracy in delicate finger work.
Tweezer dexterity- the ability to work with small tools.
Vocabulary- this test measures your knowledge of English and mathematics vocabulary.
As you can see, these attitudes could be valuable to selecting your educational program or career selection. For example, inductive reasoning- the ability to generalize and jump to a fast conclusion – is important for lawyers, researchers, diagnostic physicians, writers and critics. Structural visualization is essential for engineering, architecture, medicine, etc. Graphoria- also known as clerical ability – is an essential aptitude in accounting, banking, secretarial work, and one indicator of how well a person will do in school.
The Johnson O'Connor Foundation does not recommend a specific career or educational focus, but gives you an inventory of your aptitudes and examples of the types of work that you might want to consider, based on your combination of measured aptitudes. Most of the information for this column came from the Foundation’s Web site. For more information, go to: http://members.aol.com/JOCRF19/index.html
Rick Sheridan runs BookSpirit.com, an online bookstore with many personal development and self-help topics. His news and feature articles have been published by The Chicago Sun-Times, United Press International, etc. More information at: http://www.bookspirit.com