Cognitive ability tests evaluate abilities used in thinking (memory, perception, reasoning, problem solving, mathematical and verbal ability). Such tests consist of questions that are designed to evaluate potential of applicants to use mental processes for solving work related problems or for acquiring new job-related knowledge.

The traditional method of cognitive thinking test is to measure general traits referred to as “general mental ability” or “intelligence”. But often, an intelligence test incorporates various items which measure divergent and more specific mental factors called as “specific mental abilities”. Models of these include verbal analogies, arithmetic computations, completion of number series, spatial relations (capacity to visualize objects in 3D space) and verbal reasoning.

Regarding some cognitive tests, they sum up the right answers to all the items for obtaining an overall score which stands for a measurement of general mental ability. In case of computation of individual score for each of particular types of abilities (reasoning, numerical, verbal), then the score results represent measures of specific mental abilities.

Conventional cognitive tests are well standardized, contain items with reliable scores and can be administered to a big group of people at a time. Some example formats of questions are: sentence completion, true or false, short answer and multiple choices. There are available commercially many cognitive tests which are professionally developed and may be considered when there is no substantial need to develop a test which refers specifically to particular organization or job.

There are many considerations with reference to cognitive tests. Some of them are:

  • Validity: General cognitive ability tests provide good prediction of job performance and training success for a wide range of jobs. They consist of highly rated criterion – based validity. The more complicated the demands of training and job, the better is the value of such tests. In comparison, other tests may offer only small measures of incremental validity compared to cognitive tests.
  • Applicant reaction/ Face validity: Tests which are created with explicit reference to specific jobs or kinds of jobs inside the hiring firm, may be considered as better related to the job (more face validity) compared to tests developed commercially.
  • Method of administration: Cognitive tests can be administrated electronically or via pencil and paper method.
  • Sub group differences: Such tests usually produce ethnic and racial differences bigger than other valid predictors of performance at jobs like personality test/ biodata as well as structured interviews. To reduce any chance of adverse impact, cognitive ability tests are used in conjunction with other tests like biodata/ personal interview etc.
  • Costs of development: it is generally less expensive to buy a cognitive test than developing customized tests.
  • Cost of administration: Cognitive tests are less costly, need fewer resources for administration and do not need the presence of skilled administrators like online cognitive test.
  • Utility/ROI: It features high return on investment if you require candidates with specific cognitive abilities or have high potential for acquiring job knowledge or advantages of training. The cost effectiveness of creating customized tests compared to cognitive tests is reduced when there is no issue of face validity.
  • General use: It is of greatest use for jobs needing specific cognitive abilities for efficient performance at jobs.

These are all some aspects about cognitive abilities tests.