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What is Psychological Testing?

Psychological testing commonly includes intelligence testing, personality testing, and skills testing, among other areas. The aim of psychological testing and evaluation is to examine a person’s mental health, provide any applicable diagnoses, and answer specific questions about a person’s well-being. Depending on the type of test, the results can help people get the care they need, qualify for a job, or guide them in their career.

A psychological test should be considered when there is uncertainty about the reasons you or someone you love is having challenges with their mood, behavior or learning. The test is performed by a licensed psychologist and can be used to diagnose a variety of mental health conditions or illnesses that impact memory, thought processes and behaviors including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Head trauma
  • Intellectual disability
  • Neurocognitive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stroke
  • Substance use disorder

A psychological test can help determine:

  • The severity of symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • The presence of a learning disability
  • Academic strengths and weaknesses
  • Root causes of emotional problems
  • Positive and negative coping styles
  • Reasons for aggressive behavior
  • Information about how you view the world
  • Issues or conflicts you may be struggling with
  • Insight into your personality style

Types of Available Tests and Evaluations

We offer a wide variety of psychological testing and evaluations including:

  • Bariatric counseling and evaluations
  • Forensic evaluations
  • Independent evaluations
  • Neuropsychological testing
  • Psychological evaluations
  • School and educational evaluations

Psychological Test Uses

Psychological testing is recommended for a number of reasons including diagnosing mental health conditions and identifying behavioral issues. The following symptoms may indicate that a psychological test may be needed:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • A sudden change in mood
  • Difficulty completing normal tasks
  • A dramatic change in sleep or eating habits
  • Problems with concentration

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider reaching out to a mental health professional to get the help you need.

School- and Work-Related Reasons for Psychological Testing

Psychological testing is sometimes used to assess a person’s fitness to do a particular type of job or task, or their ability to improve in that job or task. The results may be used for:

  • Measuring achievement in school
  • Career or work counseling
  • Screening job applicants
  • Organizational development
  • Developing management skills
  • Academic placement

What to Expect During Psychological Testing

A psychological test usually consists of a series of formal or structured tests as well as clinical interviews designed to identify and describe emotional, behavioral or learning problems.

Psychological tests may require you to give written or oral responses, or may be given on a computer. They may involve a series of questions to determine how often you or a loved one have experienced certain symptoms, or you may be prompted to choose statements that best describe how you think, feel and behave. Depending on the test, the process can take several hours to a full day, and may be completed during several different sessions.

The Two Types of Test Responses

Psychological tests can be either objective or projective:
Objective testing involves answering questions with set responses like yes/no or true/false.
Projective testing evaluates responses to questions and prompts to help uncover hidden emotions and thoughts.

Both kinds of responses provide valuable insights into your symptoms and help your psychologist to see how you function and what causes you to feel challenged or distressed. After the test is performed the psychologist will evaluate the results to determine the cause, severity and duration of your symptoms, and the results will be used to create a treatment plan that meets your needs.

A Tip For Taking a Psychological Test

The best way to get the help and support you need is to be as honest as possible about your emotions, thoughts and behavior. Hiding things, or sugarcoating them will not give the person conducting the test your full psychological picture, and will decrease their ability to understand exactly what’s go on so that they can help you.

The Nine Major Types of Psychological Tests

There are nine major types of psychological tests. These are the most common ones used in each category:

Personality Tests
Measure behaviors, emotions, attitude and behavioral and environmental characteristics.
Test names: Basic Personality Inventory (BPI), 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16-PF), Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT), Rorschach Test

Achievement Tests
Measure respondents’ intellectual interests, achievements and cognitive abilities.
Test names: Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery (Achievement), Kaufman Test of Education Achievement (K-TEA), Wechlar Individual Assessment Test

Attitude Tests
Measure views of respondents based on how much they agree or disagree with a statement.
Test names: Likert Scale, Thurstone Scale

Aptitude Tests
Measure capabilities, skill sets and projection of future success.
Test names: Visual Reasoning Test, Abstract Reasoning Test

Emotional Intelligence Tests
Measure emotional responses such as anger, sadness, happiness and impulsivity.
Test names: Mayer-Salovey-Caruso El Test (MSCEIT), Emotional and Social Competence Inventory

Intelligence Tests
Measure mental/developmental learning disabilities.
Test names: Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Universal Nonverbal Intelligence

Neuropsychological Tests
Measure cognitive abilities like memory, language and executive functioning.
Test names: Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Ammons Quick Test, Hopelessness Scale

Projective Tests
Measure feedback from external influences to identify unrealized emotions/conflicts.
Test names: Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Draw-A-Person Test, House-Tree-Person Test

Observation (Direct) Tests
Measure immediate observable behavior in a laboratory, clinical or natural setting.

The Psychological Assessment Report

Once the psychologist has given you their series of tests, they will then evaluate your strengths, competencies, weaknesses, and limitations, and report on them in an objective and helpful manner. The report is typically made available to you one to two weeks after testing.

Some Important Things to Remember About Psychological Testing Results.

  • Tests do not directly reveal traits or capabilities, but allow inferences to be made about the person being examined.
  • Test results may be adversely affected by temporary states of fatigue, anxiety, illness or stress.
  • Test results should be interpreted in the context of a person’s cultural background and first language spoken.
  • Test results are dependent on the person’s cooperation and motivation.
  • Test results are best interpreted in relation to other behavioral data and case history information.