Standardized Psychological Tests

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

Psychology is a research-based discipline- it relies heavily on the scientific process. It is impossible to use the scientific method without using standardized tests. This is very true in psychology, which often assesses individual characteristics and capabilities. Personality testing provides a concrete look into an individual's total functions and traits interacting with their environment. What are standardized psychological tests, and why are they important?

The Crux of the Matter- Psychological Assessment

Weiner (2003) and Groth-Marnat (2009) explained that psychological assessment contributes important information for understanding characteristics and abilities. This is done through the collection, integration, and interpretation of data. Such data can be obtained through different methods and measures, with relevant sources based on the specific purposes.

Psychological testing- What is it?

A standardized psychological test procedure measures either quantitatively or qualitatively one or more aspects of a trait through a sample of verbal or non-verbal behavior. Anastasi and Urbina (1997) defined it as an objective and standardized measure of a sample of a person's behavior. Cullari (1998) said that a psychological test is a standardized procedure for sampling behavior and describing the same in scores or categories.

The Role of Standardization

The term "standardization" is what separates formal tests from informal ones. In simple terms, standardized tests are those which have been subject to standardization. To be considered "standardized," the following conditions need to be met −

  • There must be a standard manner of giving instructions so that uniformity can be maintained during the evaluation of the test taker. Some procedures include a quiet, distraction-free environment, precise reading of scripted instructions, provision of necessary stimuli, etc.
  • There must be uniformity of scoring and an index of fairness of correct answers through the procedure of item analysis present.
  • The reliability and validity of the test must be established. It should also be mentioned for whom it is made.
  • The most important condition is that a standardized test should have norms. A vast majority of psychologists firmly believe that norms are must, despite the controversial nature of the same.
  • Test specialists must construct these tests and obtain results that can be legitimately compared. The items on these tests are fixed and not modifiable!

The Components of a Good Psychological Test

For a test to be scientifically sound, it needs to have the following components −

  • Objectivity − Standard tests must be free from subjective judgment regarding ability, skill, knowledge, or trait to be evaluated. There need to be two aspects- objectivity of items and objectivity of the scoring system. The objectivity of items means that the items need to be phrased and interpreted in the same way by everyone who takes the test, and the objectivity of scoring refers to the uniformity in the scoring method.
  • Reliability − Reliability refers to the extent to which tests obtain consistent results. This is one of the most crucial components of a psychological test. Reliable tests yield the same scores when administered on the same sample more than once within a reasonable time gap. The more reliable the test, the more trustworthy it is. There are several ways of testing reliability.
  • Validity − Another crucial component is validity. This refers to the extent to which the test measures what it intends to measure. This component represents whether the test is fulfilling its purpose or not. The criterion measured by the test should be independent and regarded as the best index of trait or ability being measured. Generally, validity depends on reliability because a test that provides unreliable results is not expected to correlate with some outside independent criterion.
  • Norms − These refer to a representative sample's average performance on any given test. This represents the average standard of a particular sample in a particular aspect. Depending on the purpose of the test, test administrators use different norms. These norms help interpret scores; without them, no meaning can be added to the sores obtained. Appropriate norms are chosen depending on the sample's size and representativeness. Each person in the intended test population must have an equal chance of being in the standardization sample.
  • Practicability − Tests must be practical, and they should be feasible regarding aspects like time taken for completion, length, the number of items, scoring, etc. Neither the test nor the scoring should be too lengthy and difficult. Without practicability, the data gets contaminated and is difficult to interpret correctly.


Standardized psychological tests are helpful in many ways. They help identify weaknesses and strengths, support individualized lesson plans, monitor progress, identify disabilities and vocational ability, etc. It is important to note that tests must be administered to the right individuals for accurate scores. When tests are applied to individuals outside of the norm group, it increases the chances of misinterpretations. Understanding the importance of psychological testing is the backbone of research. Test administrators must understand the nuances of the tools they use to get the most complete and accurate results, especially for personality testing. Thus, standardized tests lay the foundation for assessing individual differences and provide crucial information for further analysis!

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47