Aptitude Testing and the Teenager

Identifying your pattern of natural abilities will help choose a type of college, an appropriate major, and a satisfying career path.

What type of college should I attend?

What should I choose for a major? How do I make an informed career choice, so that my working years will be happy, productive, and successful? These are the questions that high school juniors and seniors ask—or should ask—themselves.

Unfortunately, many people do not seek answers to these questions until they have graduated from high school and college and are already out in the working world. Family and financial commitments at this stage of one's life may make it more difficult to change careers. The best time to ask these necessary questions is before you attend college and before you embark on your first job.

Choosing a School and a Major

The choices of a school and a major are the college-bound student's most immediate concerns. There are over 3,400 colleges and universities in the United States, and they offer more than 230 major courses of study, ranging from architecture and management to engineering, communications, psychology, and literature. Clearly, this multiplicity of choices can seem overwhelming even to well-informed students. To explore careers, visit the Occupational Information Network Resource Center at www.onetcenter.org.

Also, as any parent with college-bound children knows, the cost of higher education has been rising dramatically. College costs are a substantial investment for a student and his or her family. Because of the variety and cost, it has become even more important to plan your education carefully. Some colleges have tens of thousands of students; others have just a few hundred. Where would you be happiest and most productive? What is your SAT verbal score, and how does it compare to the level of verbal ability of the entering freshman class? Will you be in over your head? Will you be challenged or bored?

How Aptitude Testing Can Help

The more information you have, the better your decision will be. Guidance counselors can help you appraise your interests, academic achievements, and personality characteristics. Your parents can give you the benefit of their experience. And you can also learn which professions will be most in demand at the time of your graduation. But most important is knowing yourself—knowing your own strengths.

You will benefit more from your education when you have at least a general idea of your goals. Goals should be determined by evaluating a number of factors: What are your values? What are your interests? And perhaps most important: What are your aptitudes?

What Are Aptitudes?

Aptitudes are natural talents—special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things easily and quickly. They have little to do with knowledge or culture, or education, or even interests. They have to do with heredity. Musical talent and artistic talent are examples of such aptitudes.

Some people can paint beautifully but cannot carry a tune. Others are good at talking to people but slow at paperwork. Still others can easily repair a car but find writing difficult. These basic differences among people are important factors in making one person satisfied as a banker, another satisfied as a scientist, and still another satisfied working as a journalist.

Every occupation, whether it is teaching, medicine, law, or management, uses certain aptitudes. You are most likely to enjoy and find satisfying work which uses your aptitudes. For example, if you are an accountant but possess aptitudes that are not used in that field, your work might seem unrewarding, and if you lack the accountant's aptitudes, your work may be difficult. A person might develop the skills needed to be an accountant, but that doesn't mean he or she has the aptitudes that would have made the work easy and rewarding.

Of course, to use your aptitudes effectively, you must have knowledge. Aptitudes suggest the directions in which learning might best take place, but they are no substitute for the learning itself.

Our Aptitude Testing Program

With extensive research over 80 years, the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation has been able to isolate many aptitudes, and the various tests that you take at our laboratories are, for the most part, measures of these aptitudes.

The primary purpose of taking aptitude tests is to find areas in which you have ability. It has been our experience that people tend to be more satisfied and successful in occupations that challenge their aptitudes and do not demand aptitudes that they lack.

Our aptitude testing program assists you in discovering the course of study and the type of work that will fit your aptitude pattern; it will help you to understand why certain courses of study and occupations are likely to be more satisfying or rewarding than others.

As Johnson O'Connor put it many years ago, "The individual who knows his own aptitudes, and their relative strengths, chooses more intelligently among the world's host of opportunities."