Subscribe To Our Blog

Aptitude Test   | 4 Min Read

What are Aptitude Tests, Anyways?

Written By Romila Kanchan
DID YOU KNOW? Mental aptitude(IQ) and work performance is 84% correlated? No wonder ~80% of Fortune 500 companies make use of aptitude tests to screen applicants.

To fully understand what ‘Aptitude tests ‘mean, let's start with a definition for the same

1. What are Aptitude Tests?

In an organizational setup, aptitude tests are used to assess mental abilities that are needed to perform tasks needed in any job role. It is not a measure of the actual knowledge and skills that are needed to perform your job, but the ability to learn that knowledge and skills.

And yes, ‘cognitive assessments/tests’ are not different from ‘aptitude tests’ or ‘IQ tests.’ These three terms are used synonymously to refer to the same test- the test of cognitive intelligence.


cognitive assessments and aptitude tests are same

Don't get confused by the term ‘Cognitive assessments.’ Sure it sounds technical, and if you google the term ‘Cognitive assessment,’ you are likely to come across articles that talk about Alzheimer’s, brain injuries and clinical application of cognitive testing. However, there are other applications of cognitive assessment, such as for measuring the intelligence of a person and assessing their job fitment, performance and potential.

2. What mental abilities does Aptitude Tests measure?

The Answer is- Cognitive Intelligence

Aptitude tests just like IQ tests and cognitive assessments/tests, measure a type of human intelligence called cognitive intelligence. Hence the Name-Cognitive assessment.


What does Aptitude tests measure?


The next question may seem simple, but most of us truly have no idea what the accurate answer is-

3. What is Human Intelligence? How is it different from Cognitive Intelligence?

Well, human intelligence and cognitive intelligence are not different-not entirely anyways. Human intelligence consists of two Subparts-Cognitive intelligence and Emotional intelligence. Let’s understand what these terms mean.

Cognitive intelligence: is defined as the combination of verbal, numerical and spatial abilities which includes visualizing, use of memory, word fluency, verbal relations, perceptual speed, induction and deduction (Sternberg, 1996).

Cognitive intelligence is measured via IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests/ aptitude tests/ cognitive tests.


IQ//Aptitude tests measure an individual’s cognitive intelligence by collating results acquired from specifically designed tests. The quotient is traditionally derived by dividing an individual's mental age by his/her chronological age and multiplying the result by 100.


Definition of Emotional IntelligenceEmotional intelligence: is a form of intelligence involving the ability to read one’s own and others’ emotions and use this reading to manage one’s own thoughts and behaviors (Salovey & Mayer, 1990).

It is measured via EQ (Emotional Quotient) tests.

EQ tests measure an individual’s ability to identify and manage his/her own emotions and the emotions of others and use this understanding to facilitate high levels of collaboration and productivity.


The Complete Guide to Cognitive Skills at Work

Now that we know that aptitude tests measure cognitive intelligence, there are four more questions that need to be answered before we can truly understand what aptitude tests are.

The fourth question is-

4. How do Aptitude Tests measure Cognitive Intelligence?

Answer: By measuring Cognitive competencies/skills in the form of which cognitive intelligence manifests itself.


Intelligence always seems like this innate quality that cannot be quantified, and yes it's difficult to fathom that something as dry as math and verbal ability questions can be used to measure something as deep as intelligence.

But the truth is, aptitude tests don't really measure how knowledgeable you are in math, rather your ability to use numbers logically and rationally.

It tests your brain’s processing speed, and other core mental abilities such as attention, memory, perception, and visualization.

5. How many types of Cognitive Competencies in all are there?

The answer is 3 types - Fluid competencies, Crystallized competencies, Core Brain Function related competencies

Fluid competencies are those competencies that enable us to solve unfamiliar problems, by making use of logical reasoning. Our fluid competency is not dependent on prior learning, life experience or education. Examples of fluid competencies are abstract reasoning and spatial reasoning.

Crystallized competencies are those competencies that enable us to use learned knowledge and experience. Example: Numerical ability, verbal ability, data analysis, logical & critical reasoning, problem-solving and decision making.

Core Brain Competencies are those competencies that power fluid and crystallised intelligence. There are four core brain competencies- Speed, Memory, Attention, and Visualisation.


Fluid Intelligence Vs Crystal Intelligence

Good news, the answer is ‘No.


Only a certain set of cognitive competencies are required to perform all the tasks pertaining to any job role. These specific set of competencies that are required to execute all the required tasks in a specific job role is called a competency framework.


Now that we understand what aptitude test means and what it measures, it’s important to understand why organizations use cognitive assessments/ aptitude test during hiring, learning and development and leadership development. Hence the final and most important question-

6. What is the relation of Cognitive Intelligence/Aptitude with job performance? Can IQ predict success at work?

Numerous studies over time have confirmed that cognitive intelligence is one of the best predictors of training proficiency and work performance, particularly in complex jobs.

Cognitive abilities are thought to exist in a hierarchy with the highest level referred to as g or general mental ability (GMA). Among all the levels in this hierarchy, general mental ability is thought to be the most powerful predictor of learning and performance in the workplace.”- Institute of Behavioral and Applied Management

High intelligence is an indicator of success on the job which is measured on the basis of:

  • Evaluation of performance on tasks similar to those encountered on the job
  • Performance ratings by supervisors
  • Position in the occupational hierarchy

Intelligence or IQ also predicts how high up you get in the job hierarchy – i.e., your occupational level. US Employment Service data shows a strong correlation (0.72) between IQ and occupational level.

IQ mainly influences performance through the rate at which people learn knowledge relevant to the job – people with higher IQ learn faster. But IQ predicts success even when you take account of job knowledge. With high IQ, people are abler to go beyond existing job knowledge and make judgments in unfamiliar situations.


Our cognitive abilities determine our ability to work fast, work smart, take better decisions and problem solve easily. These skills lie at the core of employee success.

Embrace aptitude tests to get hold of talent that is intelligent and possess high potential to learn new things fast and execute tasks more efficiently.








Topics: Aptitude Test

Originally published April 16 2019,updated October 12 2019

Would you like to comment?