NOTE: This is a long article. However, it is the most informative of anything I have found online, and since the test is expensive, I hope you find it worth your time.
As part of my journey in choosing a new vocation, I invested in the Johnson O’Connor Research Group’s aptitude test. The idea that forms the framework and philosophy of this testing is that:
- We are all born with certain aptitudes that remain relatively unchanged in us overtime.
- Individuals with unused aptitudes can become unhappy and get a feeling that they are not doing what they were “born” to do.
- If your natural aptitudes match your interests, you are more likely to be satisfied with the work you are doing.
- Vocabulary is a huge factor in vocational success.
This makes sense as a way of looking at why some people are fulfilled in their work and others aren’t. For example, if you are in a career where you are constantly struggling to maintain the pace of your co-workers, you will suffer emotionally and mentally.
J.O. stresses the importance of vocabulary, believing that:
- Communicated intelligence is often more important than actual intelligence, because intelligence that can’t be communicated, rarely gets used.
- Perception matters in organizations. Perceived intelligence can often be more important than actual intelligence, because of one’s ability to communicate.
I took the tests over two days and it took a total of 7 hours. Some tests were very frustrating, because I don’t like feeling incompetent. For example, one test was re-arranging odd shaped blocks to fit back into a cube. It seemed simple, but I became a bit agitated as I struggled. The instructor sensed this and she kindly said it is normal to be frustrated, because often aptitudes mirror each other. For example, if someone is great at abstract thinking, they usually aren’t great at structural visualization. When you are testing in an area you have a low aptitude in, you usually get frustrated.
At times it was actually fun. In retrospect, I tended to score higher in the tests that I enjoyed.
In my opinion, knowing how the tests work will not spoil your testing experience, because you can’t really study or prepare for these tests.
Graphoria – The ability to do clerical or office work. Accountants and book keepers are often high in this aptitude and it is tested by seeing how fast you can compare two columns of numbers and determine with each row of numbers is exactly the same. You are tested on speed and accuracy.
-6969 6869 (this row is wrong)
Ideaphoria – The ability to produce a rapid stream of thoughts, tested by giving a person a sentence or question such as, “How would your day be different tomorrow if the world ran out of water?” You are to write down as many ideas as you can in a given amount of time. People who score high in this may go into advertising, for example.
Foresight – This indicates how much you focus on the present versus how much you think about the future. It is an aptitude for seeing possibilities and is tested by showing you an abstract picture and having you write down as many things that it reminds you of within a period of time. The more you can write down, the more future oriented you are and vice versa.
Inductive Reasoning – This test measures the ability to see quickly a common element among heterogeneous ideas, observations, or facts. Basically, you are shown five or six random pictures, with three of them having something round in them, like a ball, the sun, etc. You have to be able to quickly point out three pictures with similarities. This is scored on speed. Theoretically, doctors should be high in this aptitude in order to diagnosis symptoms correctly.
Analytical Reasoning – This tests an ability to organize concepts and ideas in a logical sequence or classification. You are given shapes with information on them and told to arrange them correctly. A software engineer might score high in this.
Number Series – This is tested by giving someone several pages of numbers that are patterns. You have to recognize the pattern and fill in what the next number would be. For example:
-2, 4, 6, 8, 10 ________ (the next answer is 12, each number goes up +2)
Number Facility – This is the ability to perform arithmetic quickly. It is a simple multiplication test involving circles with numbers on them that you have to arrange to come to the correct answer.
Structural Visualization – I can’t remember this one, unfortunately.
Wiggly Block – This test measures the ability to put together wiggly shapes back into the form of a cube. It tests your mechanical ability.
Paper Folding – This test measures your ability to think in three dimensions. You are basically given an illustration where a piece of paper is folded every which and a hole is punched through it. You then have to unfold it in your mind and document where all the holes would be once the paper is unfolded.
Tonal Memory – This tests your ability to remember tones. For example, some people can hear a song once and remember it forever.
Pitch Discrimination – This is a test where you hear sounds and have to say which sounds were higher or lower.
Rhythm Memory – This is a test where you are given two rhythm sequences and have to tell whether they differ or are the same and if they differ, which beat caused the difference.
Memory for Design – During this test, you are shown a design on a screen for a certain period of time. The screen goes away and you are left with a piece of paper with just the dots. You have to draw the lines from memory and correctly connect the dots. Architects may score well in this as well as in structural visualization.
Silograms – This is a test that measures your ability to learn words or languages. You are given a series of “marshian” made up words and corresponding English words. They are then taken away and you are given a sheet of paper with the marshian words. You have to fill in the corresponding English words. You have to do this three times with the exact same pairs of words to see how quickly you can learn.
Number Memory – This tests your ability to remember numbers. You are rapidly given 6 digit numbers and are tested to see how many you can remember. The same numbers are given three times and each time you have to write as many down as possible. The more you get right each time, the higher you score.
Observation – You are given 30 seconds to memorize a bunch of random drawings of items on a page. You are then told to flip the page and alert the instructor as to what is different. Each page, something changes. This tests ability to observe. A home inspector would use this in his or her career.
Red-Green Vision – This tests whether you are color blind
Color Discrimination – This tests whether you can see small variations in colors. You are given 30 or so beads each slightly varying in color and ask to order them from darkest to lightest.
Finger Dexterity – This tests your ability to work quickly and accurately on small things with your fingers. You are told to pick up pins as quickly as possible and complete a task with them. This is required to be a good factory worker, for instance, in an electronics assembly line.
Tweezer Dexterity – This tests your ability to work with small tools. You are given tweezers and told to use them to pick up pins and perform a task as quickly as possible. This aptitude is important for dentists and surgeons.
You are given a series of words and told to say the first word that comes into your mind. People who are objective answer in a certain way, i.e., they may tend to just say the opposite of the word they heard, while people who are subjective think of something much more creative. Objective people tend to work in groups or with people. Subjective people tend to value autonomy. They are more individualistic. You score on a scale with this test, with some people being somewhat in the middle. If you are in the middle, you should probably consider careers for more subjective people.
You are tested at the beginning of the session to determine your level. Then, you are given a second test to determine your overall proficiency.
Even though my results weren’t a huge shock to me, I think the test was worth the investment. It confirmed my existing intuitions and experience and gave me the confidence to make decisions about my future. Even the person who went over my results with me admitted that, for most people, this test provides emotional permission and confidence to do something else.
My counselor told me that I tested high in ideaphoria, silograms, and vocabulary. The counselor’s description of a person with my aptitudes really hit home and there were genuine moments where I thought, “wow, how could he be that accurate after just meeting me?”
Before taking the tests, I wrote down my dream careers. Then, based on my results, the counselor and I looked at the list to determine which careers were fits based on my test results. Below are the “dream careers” I wrote down:
- Project Manager
- Leader / CEO
- Creative Development
- Member of think tank
- College professor
- Journalist / Interviewer
- Sales / client manager (here I indicate that I am introverted)
Based on my aptitudes, my recommended careers were:
- Advertising, marketing, public relations
- Small Specialty Business
I appreciated that he was bold enough to tell me some items on my dream job list were not ideal for me, namely sales, management or executive function in a large company. I was considering exploring these careers, so this has saved me a lot of time.
I learned that my “subjective” personality requires autonomy. I now see that I need to harness my high ideaphoria and vocabulary rather than see them as a hindrance.
A Few More Final Thoughts
I think that all high school and college age kids should take this test. Parents spend too much money on college for kids to be clueless in the junior year about a major or making their decision about being a lawyer based on their favorite TV show Law and Order. Or, some kids shouldn’t even go to college. I know I have cousins who own successful businesses in the trades and never stepped foot in a college except to take specific classes that would help them run their business more effectively.
I wish I had taken this a long time ago. I would have chosen a different career path. Everyone says, oh you got great experience in accounting. The truth is that I would have gotten great experience in anything I did and I would still be building on that experience. If you are struggling for direction, this may help you. If you don’t have the money, consider requesting money towards it for Christmas or a birthday. It could be the gift that keeps on giving.
If you really don’t have the money, learn to trust yourself. Many times, we already know the answer we are just afraid to take the first steps into the unknown. Do some self-reflection, and obtain candid feedback from family members and friends who know and care about you enough to be honest. Many of my friends already mentioned some of the “recommended careers” to me.
Any questions on my experience, please feel free to drop me a note. Good luck!