Cognitive assessment is used for many purposes, including educational placement, job evaluation and elder care. Cognitive assessment tools include active instruments like tests) as well as passive methods (such as observation). Some of the most popular tools include the Weschler Intelligence Scale and the Das-Naglieri Cognitive Assessment System.
Memory tests are used to measure short term memory capacity. These tests are particularly useful in elder care, as memory deterioration is one of the main early signs of dementia. Memory tests may ask subjects to remember lines of digits, recall items in a picture or list facts from a story.
IQ tests are used as holistic measures of "g", which stands for general intelligence factor. IQ tests are broken down into two categories: nonverbal IQ and verbal IQ. These sections of an IQ test are further broken down into sections such as visual math, memory, logic and so on. IQ tests are somewhat controversial, as aggregate results from IQ testing seem to suggest intelligence differences among broad demographic categories. Nevertheless, IQ tests are frequently used in psychiatry and education. The most popular IQ test is the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS).
Aptitude tests are used to determine talent prior to experience. Aptitude tests aim to evaluate a student's natural abilities in, say, music, by getting the student to attempt musical tasks before learning anything about music. Aptitude tests are generally only used with children, who have more learning potential than learning achievements.
Tests for Small Children
Small children cannot take written tests; for this reason, cognitive tests for infants are passive in nature. A cognitive test for a small child might track the child's attention span by showing them images on a screen, for example. These tests are mainly used for experimental purposes. Cognitive tests might also be used to assess the abilities of children with autism or other developmental delays. The tests assess cognitive components inlcuding speech and language skills, intelligence, sensory issues and self-sufficiency abilities such as getting dressed on their own. The results of these tests can help educators provide appropriate services to children with special needs.
Tests for Elderly People
Elderly people with early stage dementia often cannot take written tests; therefore, it is necessary to test their cognitive abilities through interactive assessments. Some assessment strategies include asking the patient to remember his daughter's name, add two numbers together or testing whether the patient can eat food without the help of a nurse.
Based in St. John's, Canada, Andrew Button has been writing since 2008, covering politics, business and finance. He has contributed to newspapers and online magazines, including "The Evening Telegram" and cbc.ca. Button is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Memorial University in St. John's.