Knowledge and Aptitudes

As you probably know by now, aptitudes are innate and there is nothing you can do to acquire one you do not have. But some still wonder about how someone who knows a lot can be “limited” by their aptitudes.

Career test publishers and administrators recognize that knowledge has an effect on aptitude use and take this relationship into account through the measurement of vocabulary. Because test publishers have access to huge amounts of statistical data, they have been able to find that a large vocabulary is usually present in a successful professional of any field.

That is, across all career fields, the most successful test-takers have a large English vocabulary. Let’s look at how vocabulary is measured, how it affects our aptitudes, and, most importantly, what you can do to take the greatest advantage of your aptitudes through vocabulary.

Vocabulary as a measure of knowledge

Johnson O’Connor explains the measurement of vocabulary in the following quote: “English vocabulary is measured in essentially two different ways. How many words do you recognize and understand in print? How many words do you use in conversation? Each of these questions will yield a different answer because people understand many more words than they ever use in conversation. We measure English vocabulary primarily through untimed multiple-choice recognition tests. We ask you to decide which of the five words or phrases is closest in meaning to the test word. This gives us a  good idea of the words you recognize and understand”

vocabulary and knowledge test sample

The Highlands Ability Battery uses a test like this to determine how precise and large your vocabulary is

“We have many different vocabulary tests, at all levels of difficulty. We convert raw scores on these tests to a vocabulary scale, covering all the tests. This vocabulary scale, which runs from 40 to 225, tells us your vocabulary level; your percentile score, in the next column, tells us how this level compares to that of other people we have tested of the same age. Our testing population is well above average in vocabulary compared to the general  population. Your percentile score could be considerably higher if we were to compare you with the entire United States population of your age.

“If you are planning to go to college or have been to college, however, and are aiming towards a managerial or professional career, we feel that a comparison with our testing  population will give you a good idea of how your vocabulary artes with the kind of people with whom you will be competing.”

Age and Vocabulary 

Vocabulary keeps increasing with age. A 30-year-old who is low in vocabulary compared to others in the same age range will still have a higher vocabulary scale score than the highest vocabulary 10-year-old. This is because knowledge builds up throughout life. An important point to keep in mind about your score in vocabulary is that you are only compared with test-takers your age, not by those outside of your age range. Your score will reflect how you rank compared with your peers.

vocabulary growth and knowledge

The older a person is, generally the more words they know. You are tested within an age bracket and compared to those only in your same age range.

Knowledge and Aptitudes

A strong vocabulary is an essential tool for gaining knowledge, and your vocabulary level will give you an idea of how far you can go with your aptitudes. A small vocabulary limits the use that you can make of your natural abilities. A large vocabulary does not guarantee success; it simply makes the full use of one’s aptitudes possible. The most obvious advantage of having a good vocabulary is that it helps in school. English vocabulary correlates more highly with school grades than any other test we administer. A low-vocabulary student may have difficulty succeeding in school; high-vocabulary students, on the other hand, are more likely to get the best training possible, which impacts the use of their aptitudes.

Vocabulary is important in work as well, and not  just in verbal fields such as law or journalism. In a work environment, where co-workers tend to have a similar pattern of aptitudes, the ones who go the furthest will normally be those who have the greatest knowledge of their field and the widest vocabulary, which helps them think and express themselves clearly. Thus we have found that presidents of major corporations are among the highest in vocabulary of any group we have tested, even though some of these executives have had little formal education.

Two Types of Vocabulary 

We emphasize the importance of both a large and a precise vocabulary. A large vocabulary broadens your knowledge of the world. As children learn words like “desk” or “run” or “friend,” they increase the number of things, actions, and ideas they  understand. This process never stops, although some people take it much further than others. The high-vocabulary person simply has a wider range of general knowledge.

A precise vocabulary generally accompanies a large vocabulary, although the two are distinct. Having a precise vocabulary means that you understand clearly and well the words you use. Thus the child may know both “run” and “walk,” but not be sure of the difference, and as a result may sometimes use the words inaccurately until sure of them. People often think they know a word but in reality have some misunderstanding of it. Thus someone might suppose that something “shabby” has to be “old,” or that something “inexpensive” must be “inferior.” We feel that a large and precise vocabulary indicates a broad, general knowledge, which is valuable for its own sake.

How to Increase your vocabulary

Your vocabulary increases as you broaden your knowledge of different subjects. This is particularly true during the years you are in school. But if your vocabulary percentile is low now, the natural increase in vocabulary will not be enough to give you a relatively high vocabulary when you are older. Everyone else your age will be learning more words, too. Your vocabulary scale score will gradually increase, but your percentile will remain the same. To catch up, you must add to this natural growth with active word study.

In our experience it is possible for those with low vocabularies to speed up their natural word growth with time and effort. Reading, although helpful, is not a very efficient way of learning new words on its own. To build vocabulary more quickly, you must study and learn words. The words you choose to study will have a great bearing on how successful your efforts will be. You should focus on words that are just barely above your current level of understanding. Words can be arranged in order of difficulty, from the easiest words everyone knows to the extremely difficult. People tend to learn words in this order of difficulty, stopping somewhere along the limits of their knowledge. Word learning, therefore, takes place most easily at this “frontier of knowledge,” as it is called by Johnson O’Connor. In practice, this means concentrating your vocabulary-building efforts on words you have often seen or heard, but whose precise meanings you do not know.

Words can be arranged in order of difficulty, from the easiest words everyone knows to the extremely difficult. People tend to learn words in this order of difficulty, stopping somewhere along the limits of their knowledge. Word learning, therefore, takes place most easily at this “frontier of knowledge,” as it is called by Johnson O’Connor. In practice, this means concentrating your vocabulary-building efforts on words you have often seen or heard, but whose precise meanings you do not know.

read to grow vocabulary and knowledge

Practice learning words that are just outside of your current reading level

In our experience it is possible for those with low vocabularies to speed up their natural word growth with time and effort. Reading, although helpful, is not a very efficient way of learning new words on its own. To build vocabulary more quickly, you must study and learn words. The words you choose to study will have a great bearing on how successful your efforts will be. The words you should study should be just barely above your current level of understanding.

Words can be arranged in order of difficulty, from the easiest words everyone knows to the extremely difficult. People tend to learn words in this order of difficulty, stopping somewhere along the limits of their knowledge. Word learning, therefore, takes place most easily at this “frontier of knowledge,” as it is called by Johnson O’Connor. In practice, this means concentrating your vocabulary-building efforts on words you have often seen or heard, but whose precise meanings you do not know.

For example, if you are reading an article on ships, you may come across the word “stern.” You are probably familiar with the word in a phrase like, “from stern to stern,” but you may not be clear whether it means the front or the rear of the ship. If so, this word is at your “frontier of knowledge;” if you take a few seconds to look it up it should become firmly fixed in your mind. On the other hand, you might encounter the word “capstan,” which may be totally new to you. If you were to look it up in the dictionary, you might not even understand the definition since the definition might contain words and concepts unknown to you. The solidification of a somewhat familiar word is more likely to stick in your head than a completely new word which has no real relation to other words you already know.

All these are ways that you can improve your vocabulary and expand your potential to use your aptitudes well. Rather than thinking of your aptitudes as limiting, think of the ways that you can take advantage of your gifts by improving that which you do have control over. To find out what your current vocabulary score is, we most highly recommend The Highlands Ability Battery.

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Aptitudes: Observation

Observation is the aptitude of spotting and remembering details, changes, or irregularities. The test was originally designed to help in the selection of factory inspectors. In any field that involves an inspection function, observation can prove useful. Other industries include claims investigation for insurance companies, detective work, scientific research, and safety engineering inspection. There are some other less obvious careers in which observation is a great boon: in art and museum work, and in gardening and horticulture, where distinguishing between different plants is important.  The natural ability to notice details and the need for an organized space are essential to succeed and be happy in these careers.

Observation is a driving ability.  The experience of noticing things out of place send signals to the brain that can best be equated to “nails on a chalkboard” – the involuntary reaction is a cringe. This is a driving ability because it demands satisfaction.  People who for one reason or another ignore this find that they experience unexplained anxiety.  Keeping things neat and tidy contributes to their sense of peace and calm.  When schedules get busy, the need for quiet in the visual space becomes paramount.

Observation test for Highland Ability Battery

A sample from The Highland Ability Battery Observation portion. The test-taker must describe what has changed about the picture including a change in position, orientation, a missing object, or an added object

A Cultural Example

People from northern European countries tend to have this ability in greater proportion than other regions.  This became evident to The Career Profiler when traveling in South America.  That is a region of the world filled with many sights and smells and a relaxed society.  Sidewalks are squeezed in between buildings and roads in whatever configuration fits. Paint of every age and shade smears a mural across the buildings lining the road.  Dirt and trash are cleaned up when necessary but it is mostly not necessary.  

In this landscape lives a community of Mennonite Dutch-Germanic peoples.  They are known for their pacifistic religious views and industrious nature.  In their neighborhoods, streets are wide and straight.  Their sidewalks lie an even distance from the road. Grass grows along each side of these walks even though their villages are situated in the Chaco, Paraguay, “the green hell.”  The Mennonite hotel is dorm-like, with a plain dining hall.  The rooms are bare and spotlessly clean – sterile in comparison to the land in which they live.  The rooms are white like the picket fences – a remnant icon of their former homeland in Russia. There too they set up villages that were neat and productive.  Even in Russia this stood out in stark contrast to the helter-skelter of the native dwellers in the Ukrainian region of Russia at the time.  

cultural organization

A South American street vs. the classic Western idea of a home

It’s been centuries since the Paraguayan Mennonite’s ancestors left Holland. What drove these people to such perfection in streets and buildings? What caused them to keep these neat and tidy traditions in light of the more relaxed cultures into which they moved?  Something drove them.  Sure you could say their cultural protocols did.  But, they had long left the culture in which these protocols were formed.  They could long ago have adapted at least some of the culture of their new countries. But they didn’t.  This demonstrates that their need for visual orderliness is an internal drive. A drive strong enough to maintain orderliness even in cultural mores diametrically opposed to their own.

Observation in Children

In this cultural example, we can see that the aptitude of orderliness is a powerful thing. Similarly, children with this ability can expect to experience anxiety and even depression.  It is an actual need to see or create order in the world.  That means that when it is not satisfied, there is a drive from within to find satisfaction for it.  That’s why it’s important to know what your aptitudes and driving abilities are so that you can work with them and satisfy them. If you have children, it’s important to know their abilities so that you can accommodate them and help them achieve their greatest potential in those areas. If you are ready to find out if you have the observation aptitude, we most strongly recommend The Highlands Ability Battery. After you get your results, you can work through the analysis with a career coach. We recommend The Career Profiler. She has over two decades of experience in career coaching and profiling. She can help you understand your results and make a plan on how to most effectively use your aptitudes.

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Do You Have the Accounting Aptitude?

Have you ever considered a career in accounting? In your considerations have you ever wondered if there is an aptitude for accounting? Do you have the accounting aptitude?  If so, what does this mean about the choices you make in school, work, and your general life?

Remember that different aptitude test publishers refer to the same aptitude using different names. For example, Johnson O’Connor calls the accounting aptitude “graphoria.” The Highlands Ability Battery, on the other hand, calls it “visual speed and accuracy.” The accounting aptitude, according to Johnson O’Connor, is essentially “paper and pencil speed and accuracy. It is measured by the number-checking test, in which you compare two columns of numbers to see whether they match.” Those who finish quickly and accurately will receive a higher score. The aptitude is important in any kind of clerical task, such as filing, record keeping, balancing a checkbook, filling out forms, taking a multiple choice test, etc.

Find if you have the accountant aptitude

A sample of The Highlands Ability Battery visual speed and accuracy test

Implications for Daily Living

Maybe you already know you have the accounting aptitude. You might have noticed that you don’t struggle handling lots of papers, or lots of words or numbers on a piece of paper. If you are married, you should probably be the keeper of tax, medical, school, insurance, and other records. It isn’t a burden on you – it’s a natural ability. Depending on your other aptitudes, personality, and interests, you may do well in jobs that involve a great deal of paperwork: accounting, banking, bookkeeping, secretarial work, law, etc.. Remember that one aptitude is only one small piece of finding the perfect job for you.

Schooling Implications

The accounting aptitude is “particularly important to schoolwork. Low graphoria students tend to take longer to finish tests and do homework. They may have trouble taking notes, and may make mistakes on tests simply through clerical errors [meaning to mark A but marking B instead]. The results is that a typical school is generally harder for the low-graphoria person; there is less return for the effort expended, and perhaps ultimately this brings about a feeling that school is a waste of time,” according to Johnson O’Connor.

Without accounting aptitude, go small

Low graphoria students may want to choose a smaller college

For those with low visual perception, we recommend taking steps to lessen its effects. For example, use a calculator instead of working out simple arithmetic problems on paper. Use a tape recorder to record lectures rather than trying to take notes. Instead of going slowly and painstakingly through your homework, do it quickly once and, as time allows, do it over again. Don’t keep stopping to check your work as you do it. The person with low graphoria often makes a mistake when starting again. Speeding up in doing a clerical task helps you maintain your concentration and therefore can help reduce errors.

We also recommend that students who score low in graphoria consider going to a small or non-traditional school rather than a large one. A smaller class size will generally put less emphasis on written work as the sole basis for judging you learning and performance. There may be less multiple-choice tests or Scantrons. If you are a woman and score low in graphoria, you may consider a co-ed school as opposed to an all-girls’ school. This is because women tend to score higher in graphoria than men, and at an all-girls’ school you would be at a disadvantage compared with your classmates.

Graphoria should be only one factor to consider when selecting a school. It is an important factor, however, of which teachers, parents, and students often are unaware. Knowing that you score low in graphoria can be of great help in avoiding unnecessary school problems. If you recognize that clerical mistakes contribute to a poor school performance, but you still wish to pursue higher education, find a college with a more holistic way of gauging academic performance. And, of course, find a job that avoids this aptitude so that you do not struggle and have performance issues. Inversely, for those with high graphoria, there may not be a reason for you to avoid a test-heavy, paper-work heavy university. And, depending on your other aptitudes and interests, accounting may be the right job for you!

In Closing

Is accounting right for you

Do you have the accounting aptitude?

Now you know there is an accounting aptitude! If you think you have this aptitude, you now know how to make it work best for you. Maybe you don’t have it, but you can still take steps to avoid having to use it. Or maybe you are really not sure! In that case, find out your graphoria score by taking The Highlands Ability Battery today. You’ll get your score and a list of careers that cater to all your aptitudes. Remember that the perfect job for you depends on all three: your aptitudes, interests, and personality. You cannot find the right job based solely on whether or not you have graphoria. Make a plan based on all your test information with a career coach like The Career Profiler to fully understand and apply your results.

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The Highlands Ability Battery is an Aptitude Test

The Highlands Ability Battery is a way to measure your aptitudes. If you’re wondering why it’s called an “ability” battery rather than an “aptitude” battery, it’s because an ability is a realized aptitude. In this sense, aptitudes can act as predictors of future abilities that develop out of that aptitude. As The Highlands Ability Battery overview states, “Knowing your abilities can help you steer toward tasks and roles that use your best talents, and steer away from tasks that would be naturally difficult for you to do.”

Take the Highlands Ability battery for aptitudes

The The Highlands Ability Battery groups aptitudes into the following four categories. Each category contains several aptitudes in which you may test strongly, weakly, or moderately.

  1. Personal style: “This section shows your results in three scales which interpret the frame of reference from which you approach your work: the Generalist/Specialist scale, the Introvert/Extrovert scale, and Time Frame scale.” You might think of these in as similar to the Meyers-Briggs, in which your personality affects the way you structure problems, make decisions, and generate energy.
  2. Driving abilities: “The Driving Abilities are very powerful and influence almost every part of our work lives. This is true whatever an individual’s results. Each one of these abilities asserts itself in our lives. It is absolutely critical to take them into account when considering what role you should play at work.” The use of driving abilities is linked to career happiness.
  3. Specialized abilities: “The Specialized Abilities help or enhance our work and lives. While most of them do not assert themselves as strongly as the Driving Abilities, it is important to pay attention to the patterns which form when these abilities combine with one another as well as with the Driving Abilities.”
  4. Vocabulary: “Vocabulary is a personal tool developed by each individual over time, rather than a natural ability, but the range of your vocabulary will affect how effectively you can use some of your innate abilities.”

These four groupings are different than some other aptitude test publishers. There are pros and cons to different kinds of aptitude tests, but The Career Profiler most highly recommends The Highlands Ability Battery. Another important thing to keep in mind while choosing career tests is that no single test can tell you everything you need to know in order to choose the best job for you. As Johnson O’Connor, a major aptitude test publisher says, “Remember that any educational or career decision you make should take into account not only your abilities, but also other important life factors ­ such as your interests, personality, goals, values, family of origin and experience, and your stage of career development. Abilities alone should not determine what career and life decisions you make. Abilities should be considered a basic and important piece of the whole picture.”

This has been a brief overview of the components of The Highlands Ability Battery. If you have more questions, check out more blogs about aptitudes and Aptitude Tests. If you are not convinced about the power of knowing your aptitudes, learn more about why aptitudes make you happy!

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What is an Aptitude Test?

Before we talk about an aptitude test, let’s explore what an aptitude is….

What is an aptitude?

An aptitude is a natural ability that someone is born with. You can think of it as the potential to develop a skill. Usually, these aptitudes cannot be learned or taught; there is simply something about your genetic wiring that makes these tasks simple for you.

An aptitude is something you're born with

An aptitude can determine even the smallest thing like if you can pack a car tightly

Most aptitude tests stick to a vocabulary of aptitudes that have specific definitions. Although publishers may differ in their vocabulary, oftentimes the aptitude behind the term is the same. For example, the aptitude that allows a person to be able to organize objects in a three dimensional space (we all know someone who can pack up a car like Tetris) might be called “spatial reasoning” or “spatial relations visualization,” depending on the test. The important thing to remember is that even though these are different terms, they’re getting at the same thing. Both tests are looking for the ability to visualize objects in three-dimensional space. In terms of this being an aptitude and not just a skill, those who have the natural ability of packing a car perfectly can do so not because they have practiced it, but because there is something about their genetic wiring that allows them to understand how things fit together in space. They have had this aptitude for their entire life and once they started packing cars or arranging blocks or toys in a box, they quickly and easily excelled at it. The ability to do something like this is a realized aptitude. While the aptitude itself may be somewhat dormant or unaccessed, it is still testable.

The most important thing about aptitudes in terms of career is that using your aptitudes makes you happier. That’s one reason why it’s so important to take a test!

What is an aptitude test?

It’s a way for people to find out what aptitudes they have. The test can be administered in-person or online. The former consists of a string of timed tasks, administered by a proctor, such as the Johnson O’Connor. An in-person test tends to be quite pricey, and are done in two sessions: the testing session, where you complete the various tasks, and an interpretation session, where the analysis of your aptitudes is summarized for you and you can discuss with your proctor what kinds of careers would utilize your aptitudes.

Online tests include the Highlands Ability Battery or the CAPS. An online aptitude test is a fraction of the cost of an in-person, proctored test. Know that different tests have different scopes than one another. Some tests are built specifically for a certain profession, so they will only test for applicable aptitudes. Johnson O’connor tests for 22 different aptitudes, Highlands for 19, and CAPS tests for eight (two of which are not tested in the former two). The discrepancy may seem large, but if you know you will not be a surgeon or a watchmaker, you probably do not need to take the fine motor aptitude test offered in-person through Johnson O’Connor. Be aware of what aptitudes you want tested and find a test that correlates with what you would like to know. The Highlands covers a significant number of aptitudes and has the most career-related information. Find out why The Highlands Ability Battery is the aptitude test that The Career Profiler most strongly recommends.

Find your aptitudes with an aptitude test

This question tests for the classification aptitude

Since the 1910’s, thousands of people across many fields have been tested for aptitudes when they apply to certain jobs, especially factory jobs and the military. More recently, industries and coaches use this information to find correlations between careers and aptitudes. A career aptitude test is a test used primarily for finding what careers align with one’s aptitudes. When a statistically high number of successful people in a career all demonstrate similar aptitudes, we can conclude that that aptitude plays a role in their success. Thus, if you have the same aptitudes as these successful professionals, chances are that you would be successful in that field as well (some aptitudes even indicate happiness). However, it’s important to remember that aptitudes are not the only variable to look at when choosing a career. It’s a good idea to take a good career aptitude test along with a few other kinds of career tests to get the most complete picture of your career situation.

The Next Step: Why do I need my results interpreted?

It is important to get your results interpreted because it may be difficult to understand all the terms and their implications on your own. A career coach or test proctor can do this for you – in fact, analysis is often included in an in-person test like the Johnson O’Connor. We highly recommend The Career Profiler, who can advise you on your aptitude test results. With 20 years of experience in the profiling and coaching world, she can help you understand and apply the results of your test. She brings a unique perspective on career coaching because she is also a profiler who understands what kinds of aptitudes, abilities, and personalities make someone fit for a job. Don’t understand your scores? She can break it down into simple language for you. Don’t know what career path to pursue? She can help you make a wise choice based on industry statistics, your personality and abilities, and your personal life. Don’t know how to take the next step? Get some help in working out a career plan for you! Contact The Career Profiler to find out how you can use aptitudes to make you happy in your career. You can also find out why The Highlands Ability Battery is The Career Profiler’s number one aptitude test choice.

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