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How Young People Benefit from Assessments and Tests

by Saman Warnasuriya

The Purpose of Assessment

Assessments help young people make meaningful decisions about education, training and employment.

Because many young people lack self-knowledge about their strengths and weaknesses, career decision-making can be extremely difficult. They may select careers for superficial reasons such as “My friend makes a ton of money selling houses”, or “There is a severe demand for Nurses, and they are paid well.”

Assessments help identify personality attributes such as interests, abilities, aptitudes, skills, values, and temperament, which assist in determining which career directions may be most suitable.

An assessment done with the help of a guidance counsellor will indicate which career directions may be suitable for a student, and hence help with the selection of high school subjects. Similarly, high school students can determine what college courses to take based on a pre-determined career direction.

Cautions of Assessments

Although, assessments and tests are useful tools, much damage could be done to the person taking them if adequate care is not taken in establishing the relationship between the counsellor and the client, selecting instruments, and interpreting test results.

Many clients assume a hierarchical relationship when they meet with a counsellor. They expect the counsellor to be their adviser, and hence, take a more subordinate advice-taker role. This should not be. The partnership should be collaborative and built on equal terms.

Some clients can be discouraged when they receive low test scores on assessments. They can label themselves as incapable or inadequate and depreciate their abilities far below actual levels. Counsellors need to be open to these attitudes, deal with them, and use the correct language in interpreting results.

The Truth about Assessments

Assessments and tests are done not so much to evaluate a person, but to aid in career decision making. This basic truth should be understood so that clients have the right attitude in understanding test results. Do not take test results as gospel nor assume they are static. Do not believe the results represent the person and that nothing much can be done to change in the future. Rather, assessment results should be a starting point in a journey of career exploration, giving much needed information to shape future career decisions.

Saman Warnasuriya works as an Employment Counsellor attached to Humber College Community Employment Services. Saman is an Honours Graduate of The Career and Work Counsellor Diploma Program of George Brown College. He also holds a MBA.

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