Psychological assessment is a process of testing that uses a combination of techniques to help arrive at some hypotheses about a person and their behavior, personality and capabilities. Psychological assessment is also referred to as psychological testing, or performing a psychological battery on a person. Psychological testing is nearly always performed by a licensed psychologist. Psychologists are the only profession that is expertly trained to perform and interpret psychological tests.
Four Components of Psychological Assessment
Norm-Referenced Tests: A standardized psychological test is a task or set of tasks given under standard, set conditions. It is designed to assess some aspect of a person's knowledge, skill or personality. A psychological test provides a scale of measurement for consistent individual differences regarding some psychological concept and serves to line up people according to that concept.
Interviews: Valuable information is gained through interviewing. When it's for a child, interviews are conducted not only for the child, but the parents, teachers and other individuals familiar with the child. Interviews are more open and less structured than formal testing and give those being interviewed an opportunity to convey information in their own words.
Observations: Observations of the person being referred in their natural setting-especially if it's a child-can provide additional valuable assessment information. In the case of a child, how do they behave in school settings, at home, and in the neighborhood? Does the teacher treat them differently than other children? How do their friends react to them? The answers to these and similar questions can give a better picture of a child and the settings in which they function. It can also help the professional conducting the assessment better formulate treatment recommendations.
Standardized norm-referenced test may at times need to be supplemented with more informal assessment procedures, such as projective tests or even career-testing or teacher-made tests. For example, in the case of a child, it may be valuable to obtain language samples from the child, test the child's ability to profit from systemic cues, and evaluate the child's reading skills under various conditions.
Psychologists seek to take the information gathered from psychological assessment and weave it into a comprehensive and complete picture of the person being tested. Recommendations are based on all the assessment results and from discussion with peers, family, and others who may shed light on the person;s behavior in different settings. Psychological assessment is never focused on a single test score or number. Every person has a range of competencies that can be evaluated through a number of methods. A psychologist is there to evaluate the competencies as well as the limitations of the person, and report them in an objective but helpful manner. A psychological assessment report will not only note weaknesses found in testing, but also the individual's strengths.