Oh, to be an astronaut…
Just how accurate is career guidance testing? A psychometrist explains.
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There are many misconceptions about career guidance. I don’t profess to have all the answers. As a psychometrist, I look at objective as well as subjective behaviour.  It is an involved, scientific process, but the end result is an informed individual who can make an informed decision.

A mistake made can be very costly indeed.  Not just university fees, res fees, and travel expenses, but lost years for the child. More and more parents are opting for individual testing sessions for their children to prevent this. R1000 can save an average family in excess of R30 000 in one year alone. The best time to test children for the first time is in grade 9, when they have to make their subject choices for matric. However, I test many children in all the grades, as well as older people looking for change – it’s never too late.

The testing process

This is the process, which normally takes approximately 3-4 hours:

Firstly, the personality of an individual is vital to job success.  Personality traits have a profound influence on the person’s social, decision-making and organisational skills amongst other things.

Secondly, there is passion and interest.  One has to ascertain where your real passions lie.  Is it with physical work, analytical, scientific, dealing with people, methodical, business oriented, arty, etc.  

A person’s aptitude is the potential learning ability in different learning areas:  Are you better at verbal or non-verbal learning and reasoning?  What the consistency is with regards your academic results?

Maths: One complaint I have had from parents is that of ‘surrender’. If a child, for instance is not doing brilliantly at maths, but their results have a strong leaning to engineering, as an example; some have been told to forget it, and do something else that does not require maths.  In my opinion anyone can do maths, if they apply themselves, and if they have the right teaching, attitude, and a whole myriad of other things.  A quick maths orientation test will yield underlying problems that the child can fix, improve their maths and do what they dream of doing.

Body language must be considered; reactions to stress; anxiety; emotional intelligence etc. Also, where is this child ‘at’ in their lives? I have designed a workbook where they can put all underlying aspects down on paper to explain where they are at and what they think.  

Sometimes the perceived idea of a career and title is incorrect or distorted, by parent or child, and this can be a potential problem if the results reflect something entirely different.  Know of anyone who has studied for years and now does something totally unrelated? It is not uncommon, and can be avoided.

What I have come across more and more in the past months, with the recession, is the number of older people, in their mid 30s to 50s - even 60s - coming to me for advice.  What comes out of the sessions, almost 100% of the time, is that the career pathway I suggest for them was once a passion and never pursued due to finances, parental influence and other factors, including laziness.

Each of us is a unique, complex package, full of history, quirky habits, desires, passions, abilities, disabilities, strengths, talents etc.  Each session is unique and has to fit the individual.  At the end, you should get, from your practitioner, a fully comprehensive report of everything measured so that you and your teen can make an informed and educated decision.

Susan Smith is a mom and a registered psychometrist.

Has your child been tested by a psychometrist? What do you think about it?

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