...Its Nature and Meaning
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. A psychological test is one of the sources of data used within the process of assessment; usually more than one test is used. Many psychologists do some level of assessment when providing services to clients or patients, and may use for example, simple checklists to osis for treatment settings; to assess a particular area of functioning or disability often for school settings; to help select type of treatment or to assess treatment outcomes; to help courts decide issues such as child custody or competency to stand trial; or to help assess job applicants or employees and provide career development counseling or training.
Psychological testing measures an individual’s performance at a specific point in time. Psychologists talk about a person’s “present functioning” in terms of their test data. Therefore psychological tests can’t predict future or innate potential.
Psychological testing uses a combination of techniques to help arrive at some hypotheses about a person and their behavior, personality and capabilities. It is a way of performing a psychological battery on a person. Psychologists are the only profession that is expertly trained to perform and interpret psychological tests.
Psychological testing should never be performed in a vacuum. A part of a thorough assessment of an individual is that they also undergo a full medical examination, to rule out the possibilities of a medical, disease or organic cause for the individual’s symptoms. It’s often helpful to have this done first, before psychological testing (as it may make psychological testing moot).
Psychological testing is something that’s typically done in a formal manner only by a licensed psychologist (the actual testing may sometimes be administered by a psychology intern or trainee studying to become a psychologist). Depending upon what kind of testing is being done, it can last anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to a full day. Testing is usually done in a psychologist’s office and consists largely of paper-and-pencil tests (nowadays often administered on a computer for ease-of-use).
There are Four Components of Psychological Testing:
A standardized psychological test is a task or set of tasks given under standard, set conditions. It is designed to assess some aspect of a person’s knowledge, skill or personality. A psychological test provides a scale of measurement for consistent individual differences regarding some psychological concept and serves to line up people according to that concept.
Tests can be thought of as yardsticks, but they are less efficient and reliable than actual yardsticks. A test yields one or more objectively obtained quantitative scores so that, as much as possible, each person is assessed in the same way. The intent is to provide a fair and equitable comparison among test takers.
Norm-references psychological tests are standardized on a clearly defined group, termed the norm group, and scaled so that each individual score reflects a rank within the norm group. Norm-referenced tests have been developed to assess many areas, including intelligence; reading, arithmetic, and spelling abilities; visual-motor skills; gross and fine motor skills; and adaptive behavior. Psychologists have a choice of many well-standardized and psychometrically sound tests with which to evaluate an individual.
Norm-referenced tests have several benefits over non-norm-referenced tests....