The Differential Aptitude Test

A test focused on the evaluation of multiple skills related to intelligence.

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In the evaluation of intelligence, we can distinguish two types of evaluation: that of global intelligence and that based on the evaluation of multiple aptitudes (different skills that make up intelligence).

In this article we will know the Test of Differential Abilities of Bennett, Seashore and Wesman, considered by many authors the first battery of multiple aptitudes in the history of psychological evaluation, designed in 1947.

Differential Aptitude Test: characteristics

The Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) is a battery of differential aptitude tests (also called TAD), designed in 1947 by George K. Bennett, Harold G. Seashore and Alexander G. Wesman. It is one of the batteries of multiple aptitudes of greater use, and is considered by some authors the first one that appeared.

Subsequently, new revised and re-standardized forms were designed in 1962, giving rise to the L and M forms, later the S and T forms, and finally the DAT 5, the latest version.
Initially, the Differential Aptitude Test was designed for middle school students.

Currently it is frequently used for vocational and educational guidance processes.

The attitude could be defined as the ability to learn something. The Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) measures the ability of students to learn or to act effectively in a certain number of areas, as well as to evaluate the potential of a candidate for a position for the successful development of their profession.

Technical data

The original name of the test is Differential Aptitudes Test. Its application can be individual or collective. The duration is 120 minutes for the 1st section and 1150 minutes for the 2nd section, and its scope is from 12 years.

As for the material, this consists of booklets, answer sheets, a pencil, punctuation keys and a stopwatch.


The Differential Aptitude Test is used to measure the ability of a person in different areas of their abilities; that is why it is considered a “power” test.

The skills and abilities that it measures are those indicated as the most important in multiple educational and vocational situations.

What do you evaluate?

The purpose of the Differential Aptitudes Test is to evaluate the verbal, numerical, abstract, mechanical, spatial relationships, spelling, speed and perceptual accuracy.

The test consists of 7 tests that make up the test, each of which bears the name of the factors mentioned above:

1. Verbal Reasoning (VR)

This test allows measuring the ability of the person to understand concepts formulated in words, as well as the ability to abstract concepts or generalize and think constructively.

In this test the subject examined must choose between 5 words, the one that best completes the analogy. For example: “… it is to the right as west is to …”

2. Calculation (C)

Here the understanding of numerical relationships and the ability to handle numerical concepts are evaluated. It offers a measure of the subject’s ability to reason with numbers, manage numerical relationships and work with quantitative materials.

3. Abstract Reasoning (AR)

Its objective is to evaluate the non-verbal part of the reasoning capacity. In this test, the subject must discover what principles govern the transformation of the figure, and demonstrate that understanding by designating the diagram that logically must follow the series.

4. Mechanical Reasoning (MR)

This test has illustrations that show mechanical situations, accompanied by a question made in simple terms. The items are presented according to simple mechanisms and frequently found in everyday life.

5. Spatial Relations (SR)

The ability of the subject to deal with concrete materials through visualizations is measured. The task is related to how certain objects would look if they were organized and rotated.

6. Spelling and Language (O and L)

In this case, these two tests are more tests of performance than of fitness. The scores here are divided into two (one for each test), but they are also considered together, as they provide an estimate of the person’s ability to distinguish between the correct and incorrect use of language.

7. Speed ​​or Perceptual Accuracy (SP)

These are intended to evaluate the rapid response of the subject in a simple perceptual task. The subject examined here should look at the combinations marked in the test booklet, and then look for the same combination in a group of several similar, printed on the answer sheet.

Considerations in its application

When administering the Differential Aptitude Test, three factors must be taken into account: to carry out an adequate planning of the test, a correct chronology and to apply it in suitable physical conditions for the subject and the examiner.

On the other hand, the test can be administered in whole or in part. Therefore, the analysis of the scores can be performed for each test separately, or by integrating the information that results from the application of several or all sub-tests.