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Maximum performance tests

This section focuses on tests of maximum performance. The following points are taken from the British Psychological Society's (BPS) guides to psychological testing.

  • Current practice is to distinguish tests of maximum performance from tests of typical performance (e.g. measures of personality traits, occupational interests, drives, motivations or needs)
  • Tests of maximum performance are usually timed and there are right and wrong (or good and bad) answers but they are not designed to assess specific areas of knowledge or skill acquired through education and instruction
  • A further distinction within maximum performance testing is between tests that measure what people specifically know or do (i.e. attainment tests of maths, literacy, foreign languages or specific craft skills) and those that measure what people are capable of generally knowing or doing (i.e. ability tests of verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, spatial reasoning, mechanical reasoning or motor skills)
  • It is the latter that form the focus of BPS Level A training
  • The use of actual test materials for practice purposes is not permitted although the use of practice materials appears to be ok

The range of uses in occupational contexts is considerable, for example, there are many differences between personnel selection and career education and guidance in terms of test use. Consider the following questions:

How secure is the distinction between what people know or do and what they are capable of knowing or doing?
How might you advise a client who wanted to take an ability test for practice purposes?

Please feel free to share your responses in the forum and/or discuss this further in the assignment.