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Psychologists use tests and other assessment tools for a wide variety of reasons.  These tools allow mental health professionals to measure and observe a client's behavior to arrive at a diagnosis and guide treatment.


For Example:


  • Children who are experiencing difficulty in school, may undergo aptitude testing or tests for learning disabilities.

  • Tests for skills such as dexterity, reaction time and memory can help a neuropsychologist diagnose conditions such as brain injuries or dementia.

  • If a person is having problems at work or school, or in personal relationships, tests can help a psychologist understand whether he or she might have issues with anger management or interpersonal skills, or certain personality traits that contribute to the problem.

  • Other tests evaluate whether clients are experiencing emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression.


The underlying cause of a person's problems isn't always clear.  Psychological tests and assessments allow a psychologist to understand the nature of the problem, and to figure out the best way to go about addressing it.


Testing and assessments are two separate components of a psychological evaluation, yet are interrelated.  Using both types of tools, psychologists are able to arrive at a diagnosis and a treatment plan.  Testing involves the use of formal tests such as questionnaires or checklists, which are often described as “norm-referenced” tests. Simply, meaning that the tests have been standardized so that test-takers are evaluated in a similar way, regardless of who is administering the test or where they live.  These tests have been developed and evaluated by researchers and proven to be effective for measuring a particular trait or disorder.


A psychological assessment can include numerous components such as norm-referenced psychological tests, informal tests and surveys, interview information, school or medical records, medical evaluation and observational data. A psychologist determines what information to use based on the specific questions being asked.


For example, assessments can be used to determine if a person:


  • has a learning disorder 

  • is competent to stand trial

  • has a traumatic brain injury

  • would be a good manager

  • how well they may work with a team


A clinical interview is one common assessment technique. By speaking to a patient about their history and concerns, a psychologist is able to observe how the patient thinks, reasons and interacts with others.  In certain situations and with the proper written consent, assessments may also include interviewing other people who are close to the client, such as teachers, coworkers or family members. 


Together, testing and assessment allows a psychologist to see the full picture of a person's attitude, strengths and limitations.


The following are various types of tests used by psychologist:

Intelligence Tests:


Intelligence tests are used to measure intelligence, or your ability to understand your environment, interact with it and learn from it.  Mostly commonly known a I.Q. tests.


Personality Tests:


Personality tests are used to measure personality style and traits. Personality tests are commonly used in research or to assist with clinical diagnoses.  Personality tests have become a popular tool used by potential employers .


Neuropsychological Tests:


These tests are used to obtain a comprehensive assessment of cognitive processes.  Neuropsyhological tests help detect impairment in cognitive functioning that are thought to be caused by brain damage, in cases such as a stroke, or brain tumor.  This type of test is often recommended if you have a disease that affects the brain such as Alzheimer's or dementia, Parkinson's disease or Epilepsy.  


Attitude Tests:


These tests are used to measure how an individual feels about a particular event, place, person or object.


Aptitude Tests:


These tests are used to measure your abilities in a specific area.  Aptitude tests have been developed to measure professional potential (for example, legal or medical) as well as special abilities (for example, mechanical or clerical).   A commonly know aptitude test used to measure general academic ability is the Scholatic Assessment Test (SAT).


Achievement Tests:


These tests are used to measure how well you understand a particular topic such as an academic subject (i.e., mathematics).  Examples of achievment tests are spelling test, map quizzes, timed arithmetic tests.


Vocational Tests:


These tests examine which occupations best fit with an individual's abilities, interests, and personality.

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