Psychological testing is used to assess a variety of mental abilities and attributes, including achievement and ability, personality, and neurological functioning.
For children, academic achievement, ability, and intelligence tests may be used as tools in school placement, in determining the presence of a learning disability or a developmental delay, in identifying giftedness, or in tracking intellectual development. Intelligence testing may also be used with teens and young adults to determine vocational ability (e.g., in career counseling).
Personality tests are administered for a wide variety of reasons, from diagnosing psychopathology (e.g., personality disorder, depressive disorder) to screening job candidates. They may be used in an educational setting to determine personality strengths and weaknesses.
Psychological tests are formalized measures of mental functioning. Most are objective and quantifiable; however, certain projective tests may involve some level of subjective interpretation. Also known as inventories, measurements, questionnaires, and scales, psychological tests are administered in a variety of settings, including preschools, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, outpatient healthcare settings, and social agencies. They come in a variety of formats, including written, verbal, and computer administered.
Achievement and ability tests are designed to measure the level of a child’s intellectual functioning and cognitive ability. Most achievement and ability tests are standardized, meaning that norms were established during the design phase of the test by administering the test to a large representative sample of the test population. Achievement and ability tests follow a uniform testing protocol, or procedure (i.e., test instructions, test conditions, and scoring procedures) and their scores can be interpreted in relation to established norms. Common achievement and ability tests include the Wechsler intelligence scale for children (WISC-III) and the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales.
Achievement testing is an important part of assessment of potential learning disabilities. This achievement testing is typically conducted in a one-on-one assessment session using a standardized test. Achievement tests are used to determine a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses. When compared to intelligence test scores, achievement scores tell whether or not a child has the severe difference in ability and performance that indicates a learning disability diagnosis. These scores also provide important information to help develop the child’s individual education program.
Children and adolescents who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, brain damage, or other organic neurological problems, are administered neuropsychological tests to assess their level of functioning and identify areas of mental impairment. Neuropsychological tests may also be used to evaluate the progress of a patient who has undergone treatment or rehabilitation for a neurological injury or illness. In addition, certain neuropsychological measures may be used to screen children for developmental delays and/or learning disabilities.
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