Teaching Aptitude Assessment in Career Counseling Courses

By Greta A. Davis

Counselor educators make choices about which career assessments to teach in their courses and have historically focused on interest assessments as well as personality, skills and values assessments with limited attention to aptitude testing. Graduate level instruction in counselor preparation programs regarding aptitude testing is typically limited to a general overview of two of the most common: the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), used for military enlistment, and the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB), developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. Consequently, counselors have limited exposure to aptitude testing and often avoid the use of aptitude assessments in practice, due primarily to a lack of training in their preparation programs. Avoidance of aptitude assessments also stems from concerns about cultural bias. It is well know that “people of diverse backgrounds perform differently on cognitive ability measures, as well as on other career assessments, [which] has led to caution in using these instruments on clients from diverse backgrounds” (Evans & Sejuit, 2021, p. 152). Other objections include extensive time requirements to take aptitude tests, inequitable access to the assessments, and high costs. In contrast, interest assessments have long been the focal point of instruction in graduate programs because they are less expensive and therefore, more accessible, take less time to complete, and are self-report. Additionally, extensive research supports relationships between interests and occupational choice, job performance, and satisfaction (Nye et al. 2012; Spokane et al., 2000; Van Iddekinge et al., 2011). Given all these factors, counselor educators often prioritize instruction of interest assessments and exclude meaningful review of aptitude testing.

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The YouScience Aptitude Assessment

Recent advancements in aptitude testing with the development and validation of the YouScience assessment brings renewed attention, value, and practicality to the use of aptitude assessments in career counseling (McCloy & Putka, n.d., & YouScience, 2014). The YouScience assessment is a computerized version of the well-known and researched Ball Aptitude Battery with demonstrated reliability and validity measuring: Visual Comparison Speed, Vocabulary, Numerical Computation, Numerical Reasoning, Spatial Visualization, Inductive Reasoning, Sequential Reasoning, Idea Generation, Hand-Eye Coordination, Associative Memory, Visual Memory, Work Approach, Timeframe Orientation, and Pattern Memory (McCloy & Putka, n.d.). In contrast to skills assessment, which includes evaluation or self-report of learned or acquired abilities that demonstrate the capacity to do something well, the YouScience assessment measures aptitudes, which are innate or underlying natural abilities. The YouScience assessment eliminates many of the stated objections of aptitude testing in career counseling:

  • Cultural Fairness & Equity. Use of aptitude assessment in addition to interest assessment helps to minimize the impact of gender socialization and economic disadvantage on expressed interests. YouScience researchers analyzed 103,050 profiles and found that aptitude testing helped identify 3.4 times more females for high demand, high wage industries and 2.1 times more minorities, compared to interest only assessment (YouScience, 2019).
  • Accessibility & Cost. The online administrative platform provides increased access at a cost comparable to interest inventories and takes 2-3 hours to complete but does not have to be completed in one sitting. The YouScience assessment costs $29 per administration (YouScience, n.d.) compared to potentially thousands of dollars for comparable aptitude assessment batteries administered in person by counselors and psychologists.
  • Training & Interpretation. The YouScience online and downloadable report is designed to be self-interpretable, meaning anyone can take the assessment and receive the report. However, most people benefit from having a career professional interpret the assessment and help facilitate decision-making, making the coverage of aptitude by the counselor educator even more important.


In addition, the YouScience assessment incorporates a RIASEC interest assessment, which is a shortened version of the Interest Profiler developed by The Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Counselor educators can use the assessment to measure both aptitudes and interests and then explore related careers using occupational data from O*NET. The YouScience assessment “provides an alternative objective approach to promoting self-discovery and adaptive career decision-making in clients ages 12 and older” (Chapman & Becraft, 2019, para. 1). The YouScience assessment is gaining traction across the country in secondary and postsecondary schools. For instance, the State of Georgia adopted the use of the YouScience assessment statewide and produced independent research studies on its effectiveness (Engleman et al, 2016).

An Added Tool for Comprehensive Career Assessment

Incorporating meaningful aptitude assessment training into counselor preparation programs can empower future counselors to provide more comprehensive career assessment services to their clients. Using a tool like the YouScience assessment will allow counselors to leverage both aptitudes and interests in making informed career decisions while ensuring career recommendations include high demand, high wage employment opportunities. Counselor educators are invited to visit the YouScience website, review training and informational videos, and message a representative to complete the assessment for free.


Chapman, V., & Becraft, M. (2019). YouScience [Review]. In K. B. Stoltz, & S. R. Barclay (Eds.), A comprehensive guide to career assessment [Online Companion] (7th ed.).  National Career Development Association. http://www.ncda.org

Engelman, S., McKlin, T., & Howell, C. (2016). 2016 YouScience pilot program, evaluation report. Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. https://resources.youscience.com/hubfs/Marketing%20Website%202020/GOSA_YouScience%20Report.pdf

Evans, K. M., & Sejuit, A. L. (2021). Gaining cultural competence in career counseling (2nd ed.). National Career Development Association.

McCloy, R. A., & Putka, D. J. (n.d.). The validity behind YouScience: Helping people make effective career choices. Human Resources Research Organization.

Nye, C., Su, R., Rounds, J., & Drasgow, F. (2012). Vocational interests and performance: A quantitative summary of over 60 years of research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 384-403. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1745691612449021

Spokane, A. R., Meir, E. I., & Catalano, M. (2000). Person-environment congruence and Holland’s theory: A review and reconsideration. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 57, 137-187. https://doi.org/10.1006/jvbe.2000.1771

Van Iddekinge, C., Roth, P. R., Putka, D. J., & Lanivich, S. (2011). Are you interested? A meta-analysis of relations between vocational interests and employee performance and turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 1167-1194. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024343

YouScience. (n.d.) How much is YouScience? https://knowledgebase.youscience.com/how-much-is-youscience

YouScience. (2014). The science behind YouScience. Nashville, TN: Author.

YouScience. (2019). YouScience Overview. https://www.youscience.com/iec_trainingvideos/a-9-lightbox.html



Greta DavisDr. Greta Davis, Ph.D., LPC-S, NCC, CCC, is Department Chair and Clinical Associate Professor in Southern Methodist University's Department of Dispute Resolution and Counseling. She is also a career counselor, consultant, and executive coach with 21 years of experience in career development providing services to individual clients, organizations, academic institutions, and the federal government. She can be reached at gretad@smu.edu

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Gerald Kageff Ph.D    on Wednesday 02/02/2022 at 12:18 AM

Greta, I have used these very tools for over 20yrs. and found there effectiveness very helpful as a pvt.practice Rehabilitation Counselor. Nice to see that they still make a difference and usefulness in planning realistic career paths.

Carrie Hachadurian   on Wednesday 02/02/2022 at 08:52 AM

What a timely post! I was introduced to YouScience over the summer and have been considering incorporating it into a career exploration course I teach. Thank you for the insights!

Greta Davis   on Wednesday 02/02/2022 at 08:24 PM

Carrie - I'm delighted to hear you plan to use it in your career class. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance to you in your planning process.

Rich Feller   on Wednesday 02/02/2022 at 09:43 PM

"Greta, thank you for helping the profession see the value and urgency of learning about aptitudes, how experiences shape interests and create "exposure bias", and the power of combing performance based aptitudes and self-reported but malleable interests. The growing number of states adopting YouScience, CTE's enthusiasm for the use of aptitudes in program selection, and HBCU's remarkable success with YouScience offers evidence to how the Cost-Quality-Access Triangle of Career Development is being disrupted. Helping clients identify their competitive advantages and countering the "passion" myth is critical in a skills based economy and long life career planning. I'm very grateful for you critical review of career work and how to increase our impact and access.

Greta Davis   on Wednesday 02/02/2022 at 10:34 PM

Rich - I hope this article encourages counselor educators and practitioners to continue their own exploration of the tools they teach and use. Hopefully my review of the YS assessment will encourage that exploration as well as mitigate general concerns that persist related to assessing aptitudes.

Jennifer Kondak, CCSP   on Friday 02/04/2022 at 08:48 AM

this is excellent information; too pricey for K-12 settings but in private consultation or specific situations, this is a great instrument to be aware of for career development.

Greta Davis   on Wednesday 02/09/2022 at 07:51 AM

Jennifer - Schools are definitely concerned about costs. YouScience does offer discounted site licenses for “schools/districts, colleges, universities and non-profits” based on size and the products they are using. YS is growing in interest in K - 12 environments - I think up to 4,000+ K-12 schools are using the YS assessment now. It would be best for K-12 counselors and administrators to reach out to directly to YS (https://resources.youscience.com/contact-us) and they will follow up. I've had a great experience just reaching out directly and getting my questions answered.

Donna Gill, LPC, NCC, LCDC   on Monday 05/09/2022 at 11:56 AM

Thank you Greta for this valuable information. I have recently begun utilizing the YouScience assessment in my private practice. The more a client understands about their interests, their values AND their aptitute, the better they are able to make a well informed career decision. I really appreciate your insight into YouScience. It is invaluable to my practice. I appreciate your time in developing and presenting this information!!

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