Army Alpha Testing

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The first mental tests designed to be used for mass, group testing were developed by psychologists for the U.S. Army in 1917-1918. The group tests were modeled after intelligence tests designed for individual use in one-on-one assessment. In developing the mental tests, the psychologists subscribed to the position that one could be quite intelligent, but illiterate or not proficient in the English language. Based on this reasoning, two major tests were developed, the Army Alpha for literate groups, and the Army Beta for illiterates, low literates or non-English speaking (Yerkes, 1921). Both tests were based on the theoretical position that intelligence was an inherited trait, and the assumption was made that native intelligence was being assessed. Each test was made- up of a number of subtests (Figure 4), the contents of which differed depending on whether the test was for literates or illiterates, low literates or non- English speakers. Test 1: Following Oral Directions, involves auding and comprehending simple or complex oral language directions and looking at and marking in the appropriate places on the answer sheet.

Test 2: Arithmetical Problems, requires both the ability to read and comprehend the stated problem and the knowledge of arithmetic to perform the computations called for.

Test3: Practical Judgment, clearly requires reading and comprehending language. Additionally, however, it requires knowledge of culturally, normative expectations to make the "correct" choice. Test 4: Synonyms-Antonyms, requires specific vocabulary knowledge, in addition to the knowledge of "same" and "opposite." Test 5: Disarranged Sentences, requires semantic knowledge about flies as well as grammatical knowledge to rearrange the sentences, and information has to be held in working memory while rearranging the sentences. Test 6: Number Series Completion, emphasizes reasoning with number knowledge in working memory. Test 7: Analogies, clearly emphasizes culturally...
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