Psychological testing — also called psychological assessment — is the foundation of how psychologists better understand a person and their behavior. It is a process of problem solving for many professionals — to try and determine the core components of a person’s psychological or mental health problems, personality, IQ, or some other component. It is also a process that helps identify not just weaknesses of a person, but also their strengths.

Psychological tests are administered by trained evaluators. A person’s responses are evaluated according to carefully prescribed guidelines. Psychological tests provide an objective way of assessing your strengths and weaknesses. They are developed by trained professional psychologists using rigorous methods to ensure that the tests are unbiased. These tests are ‘standardized’, meaning they have been tested on people of a similar age and background and performance is interpreted relative to that standard. 

Psychological assessment is similar to psychological testing but usually involves a more comprehensive assessment of the individual. Psychological assessment is a process that involves checking the integration of information from multiple sources, such as tests of normal and abnormal personality, tests of ability or intelligence, tests of interests or attitudes, as well as information from personal interviews. Collateral information is also collected about personal, occupational, or medical history, such as from records or from interviews with parents, spouses, teachers, or previous therapists or physicians. 

Types and Examples of Psychological Tests

Intelligence tests are used to measure intelligence, or your ability to understand your environment, interact with it and learn from it. Intelligence tests include:

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)
  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (SB)

Personality tests are used to measure personality style and traits. Personality tests are commonly used in research or to assist with clinical diagnoses. Examples of personality tests include:

  • Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • Rorschach, also known as the ‘inkblot test’

Attitude tests, such as the Likert Scale or the Thurstone Scale, are used to measure how an individual feels about a particular event, place, person or object.

Achievement tests are used to measure how well you understand a particular topic (i.e., mathematics achievement tests). Aptitude tests are used to measure your abilities in a specific area (i.e. clerical skills).