Psychological assessment uses tests and other information such as personal and medical history, description of current symptoms and problems of either self or others, and collateral information (interviews with other persons about the person being assessed). Psychological assessment is a flexible process with the goal of answering questions or issues through the collection, evaluation and analysis of appropriate data. A useful psychological assessment must be both valid (i.e. actually measures what it claims to measure) and reliable (i.e. gives consistent results over time).
Categories of psychological tests:
- Intelligence tests – these tests assess your intelligence — that is, your basic ability to understand the world around you, assimilate the information and apply this knowledge to enhance the quality of your life. Typical tests that are used are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS).
- Neuropsychological tests – this assessment battery attempts to measure deficits in cognitive functioning
- Personality tests – these tests attempt to assess basic personality style, areas of personality dysfunction and the presence and nature of an emotional disturbance. These measures are often described as either objective tests or projective tests. Objective tests have a restricted response format that allows for ratings on different personality dimensions. An example of such a test would be the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). Projective personality tests are less structured and more ambiguous allowing an individual to “project” their own personal perception to a test stimulus. An example of this type of test would be the Rorschach Inkblot Test.
- Achievement Tests – these tests measure what an individual knows in a particular area (i.e. reading, mathematics, etc.).
- Aptitude Tests – these tests attempt to determine and measure a person’s ability to acquire, through future training, some specific set of skills.
In general, a test battery is composed of a variety of assessment tools, designed to best diagnose the presenting problems. These psychological tests are useful because of the following reasons:
- The information from tests is more scientific and objective than the information from an interview.
- Psychological tests often provide important information that is not readily apparent in an interview.
- The assessments often give a more authentic picture of an individual and is particularly helpful with those who try to “look good” in an interview.