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An aptitude is a component of a competence to do a certain kind of work at a certain level. Outstanding aptitude can be considered "talent". Aptitude is inborn potential to perform certain kinds of activities, whether physical or mental, and whether developed or undeveloped. Aptitude is often contrasted with skills and abilities, which are developed through learning.[1] The mass term ability refers to components of competence acquired through a combination of both aptitude and skills.

According to Gladwell (2008)[2] and Colvin (2008),[3] it is often difficult to set apart the influence of talent from the influence of hard training in the case of outstanding performances. Howe, Davidson, and Sloboda argue that talents are acquired rather than innate.[4] Talented individuals generally show high levels of competence immediately in only a narrow range of activities,[5] often comprising only a single direction or genre.

Intelligence and aptitude

Aptitude and IQ are different but related concepts relating to human mental ability. Unlike the original idea of IQ, aptitude often refers to one of the many different characteristics which can be independent of each other, such as aptitude for military flight, air traffic control, or computer programming.[6] This approach measures a variety of separate skills, similar to the theory of multiple intelligences and Cattell–Horn–Carroll theory and many other modern theories of intelligence. In general, aptitude tests are more likely to be designed and used for career and employment decisions, and intelligence tests are more likely to be used for educational and research purposes. However, there is a great deal of overlap between them, and they often measure the same kinds of abilities. For example, aptitude tests such as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery measure enough aptitudes that they could also serve as a measure of general intelligence.

A single construct such as mental ability is measured with multiple tests. Often, a person's group of test scores will be highly correlated with each other, which makes a single measure useful in many cases. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor's General Learning Ability is determined by combining Verbal, Numerical and Spatial aptitude scores. However, many individuals have skills that are much higher or lower than their overall mental ability level. Aptitude subtests are used intra-individually to determine which tasks that individual is more skilled at performing. This information can be useful for determining which job roles are the best fits for employees or applicants. Often, before more rigorous aptitude tests are used, individuals are screened for a basic level of aptitude through a previously-completed process, such as SAT scores, GRE scores, GATE scores, degrees, or other certifications.

Common aptitude tests

Examples of aptitude tests include;[7]

Combined aptitude and knowledge tests

Tests that assess learned skills or knowledge are frequently called achievement tests. However, certain tests can assess both types of constructs. An example that leans both ways is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which is given to recruits entering the armed forces of the United States. Another is the SAT, which is designed as a test of aptitude for college in the United States, but has achievement elements. For example, it tests mathematical reasoning, which depends both on mathematical ability and education received in mathematics.

Aptitude tests can typically be grouped according to the type of cognitive ability they measure, whether that be fluid or crystallized intelligence.[8][9][10]

Further information: Wolfe–Spence tests

Talent self-actualization

Our natural talents or strengths are what the individual is to do what it is in our nature to do and means their skill ceiling is higher than someone that has not discovered their talents, talent with practice and mentorship or coaching can reach personal excellence, and to practice talents is to build upon what we are good at.[11][12] The talent principle is to 'build upon what we're already good at'. Ludvig suggests growth is what comes from the practice of reason, you do this by learning and trying out the development and implementation of new things. As a result of trying new habits, techniques and rituals we through such practice become better and grow our competence, breaking perceived limits. We gain success Ludvig explains by working with, rather than against, our natural talents, and secondly, by continually learning or studying, self-education, hard work, and discipline. Ludvig says that sometimes quality-content or supplementary activities are required to develop a talent and get great at something. Ludvig Sunstrom says we are often not naturally suited to most normal jobs, so the problem is; we are not affirming our natural talents, we don't use our strengths, and we're ignoring our nature.

Daniel Coyle says that developing talent means the possession of repeatable skills that is not based on physical size, but is built on desirable difficulties, and not on innate traits, genetics or environment. Coyle suggests three elements (1) deep practice, (2) ignition, and (3) master coaching. The development of all repeatable skills alters the cellular mechanism of production of myelin which creates neural pathways and it wraps those nerve fibers, that carry nerve impulses, it makes those signals from the brain to the muscles, stronger, more consistent and faster, prevent the electric impulses from leaking and make mistakes. It makes these neural firings more efficient. The process of making mistakes generates talent as it will generate myelin growth.[13] Daniel Coyle explains deep practice requires struggle, attention, focus, failing better, trying better, and this is orientated around choosing a goal that is bit more difficult than what your current abilities can muster.[14] You must pick a goal that is somewhere between too complicated and too easy, so that you can struggle with difficulty but can still manage it. Break down your efforts into small chunks so that repetition is increased, rather than long arduous training. Coyle states ignition or motivation is what infuses us with energy to be able deal with discomfort and struggle that is required when doing deep practice. There is a requirement of high motivation and energy then to be able to turn workable practice into efficiency in the building up of one's skill. According to Coyle, a master coach, it turns out, is not one who is the most knowledgeable, the most inspirational, or the toughest. Being a good coach is actually about improvement and development by helping, teaching and guiding others in the field to improve deep practice and ignition in pupils according to Coyle.

See also


  1. ^ "Standardized tests: Aptitude, Intelligence, Achievement". Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  2. ^ Gladwell 2008.
  3. ^ Colvin 2008.
  4. ^ Howe, M. J.; Davidson, J. W.; Sloboda, J. A. (June 1998). "Innate talents: reality or myth?". The Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 21 (3): 399–407, discussion 407-42. doi:10.1017/s0140525x9800123x. PMID 10097018. S2CID 7656089. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  5. ^ Eby, Douglas. "Multitalented Creative People". Developing Multiple Talents. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Standardized tests: Aptitude, Intelligence, Achievement". Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  7. ^ "What is Aptitude? Definition, Types and Ways to Highlight It". Retrieved 27 March 2023.
  8. ^ The Too Many Aptitudes Problem
  9. ^ Multipotentiality: multiple talents, multiple challenges Archived July 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Personal Reflections on Testing Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Sunstrom, Ludvig. "9 Things You Need to Know to Unlock Your Natural Talents & Succeed in Life".
  12. ^ Sunström, Ludvig. "Peter Drucker's Philosophy Of A Business Applied To The Modern Business Climate". Retrieved 4 September 2023.
  13. ^ Coyle, Daniel (April 16, 2009). The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How (PDF) (1st ed.). United States of America: Bantam. pp. 1–3. ISBN 9781847943040. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  14. ^ Brown, Sonny. "The Talent Code Summary & Notes By Daniel Coyle". Retrieved 3 September 2023.