Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Career Tests Work

Career Aptitude Test

A career aptitude test attempts to distill many aspects of a person's education and interests into a set of recommended career paths or specific job choices. There are many different aptitude tests and theories regarding how best perform these tests.

Some aptitude tests may resemble the standardized tests you took in school, like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). You're being tested to determine your strongest knowledge areas. If you struggle with math, the test administrators probably won't suggest jobs in accounting or engineering. If you struggle in English, then public relations may not be for you. There might also be more esoteric sections that examine your ability to grasp spatial relations or figure out logic puzzles. Each section is related to certain job characteristics, which the test administrators later use to decide what you might be good at.

A good example of an aptitude test many Americans take is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). This test is given to anyone interested in joining the United States military. In addition to determining basic abilities in a number of areas, such as automotive information, general science and verbal expression, the military also composites these scores to determine a subject's aptitude in a number of military occupations. The Army's Field Artillery Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) score is a composite of the ASVAB's mathematics knowledge, mechanical comprehension, coding speed and arithmetic reasoning scores.

While some results might seem obvious (you probably already know if you're any good at math), some things surprise you. You might not know that you have a knack for mechanics and spatial relations -- and would have never considered a career as a prototype builder or machinist -- until you complete the test.

Next, we'll look at career personality tests.

More to Explore