Tests for mechanical aptitude

Written by sumei fitzgerald
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Tests for mechanical aptitude
Many employers use mechanical aptitude tests in their selection of potential employees. (taking test image by Petro Feketa from Fotolia.com)

Mechanical aptitude tests (MATs) measure your ability to understand mechanical and physical principles. The results may be used to determine your employability or potential for advancement.

MATs involve an understanding of levers and pulleys, springs and electrical circuits, and tools and shop arithmetic.

The most common MATs are the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test and the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude. Some companies develop their own MATs to test for specific knowledge the job may require.

Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test

The Bennet Mechanical Comprehension Test (BMCT) is a multiple-choice exam consisting of 68 questions given in a 30-minute time frame. It can be combined with a hand-tool dexterity test and is the older of the commonly used MATs. It is used to identify working knowledge and conceptual understanding of industrial, mechanical and technical jobs.

The BMCT can be given individually or in a group setting. It can be administered online or on paper. The test is developed for those who have at least a sixth-grade reading ability but an audio component is also available.

In this test, the movement of mechanical parts in two dimensions and three dimensions must be visualised. This mental reasoning must then be used to determine how one part may move or how many parts may move at the same time.

Tests for mechanical aptitude
You must visualise how different mechanical components move. (mechanical gears and cogs image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com)

Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude

A newer MAT is the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude (WTMA). This 30-minute, 60-item test was developed at the sixth-grade reading level and is available in both English and Spanish. This test was developed to minimise gender and racial biases.

Both the WTMA and the BMCT compare test results to the scores and percentile ranking associated with workers in specific occupations.

Tests for mechanical aptitude
The WTMA minimises gender and ethnic differences. (group of business men and women image by Steve Johnson from Fotolia.com)

Ramsay Corporation's Mechanical Aptitude Test

The Ramsay Corporation developed this MAT to specifically measure a person's potential for learning about maintenance and production jobs rather than measuring their working knowledge. It was designed to identify employees for apprenticeships and trainee programs. It is a 36-item, multiple-choice test given in English. The MAT revolves around every day problems and products and reduces gender differences.

Tests for mechanical aptitude
The Ramsay Corporation's test measures your potential for an apprenticeship or training program. (at auto workshop image by Dmitry Goygel-Sokol from Fotolia.com)

Validity of MATs

Women tend to perform better on the manual dexterity and perceptual discrimination portions of the BMCT. Males generally surpass women in their performance on the abstract spatial and mechanical reasoning portions of the test reports Personality-And-Aptitude-Career-Tests.com.

Gender difference in MAT scoring is distinct and wide reports Michel Hersen, author of "Comprehensive Handbook of Psychological Assessment: Industrial and Organizational Assessment." He warns that such tests are often outdated, highly-specialised and based upon non-representative norms. Hersen reports there is insufficient psychometric evidence to support the use of MATs.

There is no concrete evidence that MATs can predict who might be the better job candidate, Personality-And-Aptitude-Career-Tests.com adds. A physics major might perform very well on such a test but perform poorly in the field as compared to a worker with a lower written test score. As Hersen points out, some MATs test highly-specific content and skills and don't usually reflect the mechanical ability or potential desired for every job.

In a 2001 Los Angeles study conducted by the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources, researchers found no relationship between how well a test subject performed and their scoring on either mechanical ability or job knowledge tests.

Regardless of the research, employers continue to use such tests in making determinations about their workers. Reviewing and taking practice MATs will improve your chances for job eligibility and advancement.

Tests for mechanical aptitude
Taking practice tests online will improve your job eligibility. (Mensch und Computer image by Sven Rausch from Fotolia.com)

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