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What are the different types of tests and why do we need them?

There are different types of tests in education. All tests  have different purposes.

A. Achievement tests

An achievement test measures how an individual has learned over time and what the individual has learned by analyzing his present performance. It also measures how a person understands and masters a particular knowledge area at the present time.


THE SAT and the ACT are both achievement tests also known as standardized tests. A standardized test is an exam where the instructions, questions, scoring and reporting of those scores is the same for all who take it. Many colleges and universities require students to take one of two specific standardized tests: the SAT OR the ACT. The primary use for the SAT and ACT exams is for the selection of students for college admission. Although there are differences of opinion about the validity and reliability of these tests, recent revisions to both exams are causing the current body of research about validity and reliability to be questioned more strenuously and until newer tests are created and put in place, universities continue to use them as one of the criteria for college admissions. 

Validity of the SAT

The SAT is used as an indicator of future performance and an overall assessment of academic ability. Most universities and colleges take SAT scores as part of the admission process. It is a highly versatile exam and widely accepted for admissions by the vast majority of colleges and universities.

Since 1926, the SAT has been used as a predictor of college success in those subjects tested by the exam. The basic skills of reading, mathematics and writing form the core of the SAT; however, there are 20 subtests in the areas of foreign language, mathematics, history and science that can also be examined. According to the College Board, publisher of the exams, the SAT “is consistently shown to be a valid predictor of college success for students from all backgrounds,” but in a 2012 speech, Dr. Richard Atkinson, former chairman of the Board on Testing and Assessment for the National Council of Research, noted that the SAT is an exam at war with itself because the core test is not as valid as the optional subtests. The subtests are better predictors on whether or not a student will be successful in specific classes in college.

Validity of the ACT

The ACT, first given in 1959, is a college readiness assessment that measures a student’s readiness for college in the areas of English, mathematics, reading and science. The ACT Plus Writing has the four area multiple-choice tests plus a Writing Test. In a study completed in 2011 and published in the May 2013 issue of the American Economic Journal, researchers from both Stanford University and the University of Chicago question the predictive validity of the science and reading portions of the ACT. The report further argues that colleges would get more successful students if they examined the predictive value more closely.



Before creating a study plan, it’s necessary to know what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are. Based on the outcome, a student can direct the attention on relevant areas of subject matter for improvement and study strategically. 


B. Aptitude Tests

An aptitude test is designed to assess what a person is capable of doing or to predict what a person is able to learn or do given the right education and instruction. It represents a person's level of competency to perform a certain type of task.


Achievement Tests vs Aptitude Tests

Achievement tests differ in important ways from aptitude tests. An aptitude test is designed to determine the test taker’s potential for success in a certain area. For example, a student might take an aptitude test to help determine which types of career they might be best suited for. An achievement test, on the other hand, would be designed to determine what a student already knows about a specific subject.


C. Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are a standard and scientific method used to measure individuals' mental capabilities and behavioral style. Psychometric tests are designed to measure test takers' suitability for a role based on the required personality characteristics and aptitude (or cognitive abilities). They identify the extent to which candidates' personality and cognitive abilities match those required to perform the role.

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