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Take a Self-Assessment Test to Find a School or Career Path

When Jaimie Lucia, a student at Binghamton University in New York, took a mandatory personality test in high school, she was thrilled at what she found.

"My traits: creative, ethical, altruistic and deep. My ideal jobs: novelist, activist, architect and teacher. My counterparts: Shakespeare, George Orwell and John F. Kennedy," Lucia wrote in Pipe Dream, the school's newspaper. "I was destined for greatness."

Choosing the right school can help put a person on the discovery toward achievement. But what happens when the options come down to choosing between a few very good schools? A self-assessment test could bring the playing field into sharper focus and help future students decide what school degree programs they want to seek.

Why take a self-assessment test?

A self-assessment test is a good way to examine interests, strengths and personality traits that can help determine what career might be the best fit. Even if an aspiring student already has a good idea of what career trajectory to follow--like journalism for a person who loves writing--a self-assessment test can reveal other suitable career alternatives.

There are two broad types of self-assessment tests, the self-directed and those requiring interpretive assistance. Self-directed tests can be found on the Internet and are often free. Those that require assistance are typically taken in a school, career center or guidance office, and can require a fee.

What to look for in a self-assessment test

When choosing a self-assessment test, it is important to look at both the validity and reliability of the test. The Myers & Briggs Foundation defines validity as a test that measures what it says it does, and reliability as a test that delivers the same results when given more than once.

Many tests look at the same kind of criteria and ask a variety of questions to determine personality type. There are four typical aspects of personality that are considered:

1. The outgoing type versus the quiet, introverted type
2. A preference for hard facts versus context and interpretation of facts
3. A preference for decision-making based on logic and consistency versus individual people and situations
4. A preference for making decisions versus leaving options open

These four main aspects can then be combined in several ways to give an overall picture of personality. Some tests focus on all four points while others use only a few. Some go in an entirely different direction. That's why it could be helpful to take a true assessment from a professional counselor who is trained to understand results.

Online self-assessment tests

Free online self-assessment tests can be a good place to begin. Taking more than one test could help you to gain a more accurate picture. Below is a list of online options.

  1. Keirsey Temperament Sorter. This personality assessment can help a person understand how they interact with others by identifying their temperament as artisan, idealist, guardian or rationale. This brief assessment is free, but a longer personal assessment can be purchased.
  2. Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP). This assessment asks the test-taker to choose from several statements in each question, then delivers a basic personality profile. More information can be purchased for a fee.
  3. Career Directions Inventory. This tool determines job interests and approach to the workplace, then presents the results in an attractive graph and text format. The assessment is free for job-seekers.
  4. Jackson Vocational Interest Survey. This assessment looks at answers on 34 different work roles and work styles, then matches those answers to majors and careers that might be suitable for the test-taker. There is a one-time fee for the service.
  5. Occupation and Skill Computer-Assisted Researcher (OSCAR). Developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, OSCAR is a free tool for those living in Arkansas, Lousiana or Texas. There will be numerous options to help determine personality traits, strengths, enjoyable work, careers that are similar to a current job and much more.

College, work and self-assessment: Why it matters

The fastest way to ruin a future career is to wind up in the wrong one. Career assessments might not hand the taker a perfect prescription for his or her future, but they definitely hold value in helping to uncover personality traits and potential career options. As such, a self-assessment test can be useful in helping students to clarify their goals.