Tests of cognitive capacity evaluate talents related to thinking (e.g., reasoning, perception, memory, verbal and mathematical ability, and problem-solving). Questions on these exams are designed to assess an applicant’s ability to employ mental processes to solve work-related challenges or learn new skills.

The generic attribute measured by cognitive ability tests has traditionally been called “intelligence” or “general mental ability.” On the other hand, an intelligence test frequently includes a variety of item types that measure different and more specific mental elements known as “specific mental capacities.” Arithmetic computations, verbal analogies, literary comprehension, numerical series completion, and spatial linkages are examples of such items (i.e., visualizing objects in three-dimensional space).

Some cognitive capacity tests add up all of the correct answers to get an overall score that measures general mental aptitude. The resulting scores represent measurements of the specific mental talents if an individual score is computed for each category of abilities (e.g., quantitative, verbal, reasoning).

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