A person’s aptitude is their innate potential and natural ability. For example, a person’s ability to react calmly under pressure is considered an aptitude.
Aptitudes are talents that we seem to naturally have. Some of us find mathematics easy while others find it a struggle. Some of us quickly excel at sports while others find them tedious.
Note that aptitudes refer to inborn ‘potential’ to be good at something, as opposed to abilities and skills, which are things that we’re good at following practice. Usually, if we have good aptitude at something, then with a little practice, we will also become skilled at it.
|Abstract Reasoning||You’re comfortable working with symbolic and hypothetical ideas, i.e. calculus.||Detective|
|Aesthetic/Artistic Aptitude||You’re naturally talented at knowing what is and isn’t. aesthetically pleasing. You find art and design easy to understand.||Artist|
|Auditory Aptitude||You have a good ear for pitch and tone. You can hold a tune easily.||Musician|
|Balance||You tend to be good at sports that require balance such as surfing and skating.||Window Cleaner|
|Charisma||Some people are naturally charismatic. They have always known how to read people and charm them.||Politician|
|Compassion||If you have natural compassion, then you tend to want to help people in need.||Not for Profit|
|Convergent Thinking||You are good at gathering facts and coming up with one clear answer to a question based on evidence.||Detective|
|Creativity||You find yourself drawn to artistry, making things, and making up fantasies in your mind.||Tattoo Artist|
|Critical Thinking||You are good at analyzing and evaluating things rather than taking them for face value.||Academic Researcher|
|Divergent Thinking||You are good at coming up with diverse ideas and solutions to problems.||Inventor|
|Emotional Intelligence||You are good at identifying your own and other people’s emotional reactions and can communicate on an emotional level.||Team Leader|
|Entrepreneurialism||You enjoy (and find that you’re generally good at) coming up with novel ideas, packaging them, and presenting them to others.||Inventor|
|Graphoria||You find clerical tasks like taking notes, organizing, and administration easy.||Accountant|
|Hand-Eye Coordination||You find it easy to use your vision to coordinate your body, i.e. you can quickly catch a rogue ball flying your way!||Sportsperson|
|Interpersonal Intelligence||You are good with people. You can read them well, interact with them to get what you want, and collaborate with team members.||Social worker|
Team leader or manager
|Intrapersonal Intelligence||You are very reflective. You are always conscious of your emotions and how they are affecting you (see: intrapersonal communication skills).||Psychologist|
|Lateral Thinking||You can find innovative solutions to problems that were not initially obvious.||Inventor|
|Leadership||You find it easy to lead people using guidance, group motivation, and confidence.||CEO|
|Linguistic Aptitude||You are good at using and manipulating words. You find it easy to play scrabble and learn languages and you love to read.||ESL Teacher|
|Logical Reasoning||You’re very good at thinking things through in a systematic way. You can break down arguments and analyze them to see how true they are.||Journalist|
|Metacognition||You are good at reflecting on your own actions and have strong self-awareness.||General aptitude for all careers – particularly useful for self-development.|
|Musical Intelligence||You find it easy to learn through music. You listen to a song once and can recall the lyrics or tune easily after that.||Musician|
|Naturalistic Intelligence||You have an affinity with the natural world. You are happiest working and playing outdoors.||Gardener|
|Numerical Reasoning||You find that numbers make far more sense than literature ever will. They’re solid and have true and false answers.||Engineer|
|Organization||You love to keep things organized and tidy. It feels good when everything has a place.||Executive Assistant|
Project Management Professional
|Physical Aptitude||You always excelled at sports and love to keep your body active.||Sportsperson|
|Process Thinking||You are very good at coming up with short-term goals and knowing the steps to achieve them. You often find yourself writing sequential to-do lists.||Project Management Professional|
|Reading Body Language||You often find yourself focusing on people’s postures, hand positions, and facial expressions to get an idea of their moods.||Detective|
|Resilience||You tend not to let negative experiences deter you from reaching for your goals.||PhD Student|
|Risk Analysis||You seem to have a natural talent at assessing risk and knowing when to take calculated risks.||Entrepreneur|
|Situational Judgement||You tend to be aware of the situation or context you’re in, and you adapt well to various different situations.||Army Officer|
|Sociological Imagination||You are good at assessing the deep social impacts of situations and behaviors.||Policy Maker|
|Spatial Reasoning||You tend to be able to estimate distance well. You have a good idea of your environment and who or what is around you at all times.||Truck Driver|
|Systems Thinking||You’re always concerned with how everything around you interacts. You think about future outcomes of current events.||CEO|
Project Management Professional
|Verbal Reasoning||You find yourself more effective at understanding logic and reasoning if it’s expressed verbally. You like to listen and speak to express and understand things.||Speech writer|
|Visualization||You’re good at picturing things in your mind. You might be able to create clear pictures in your head or imagine your future goals vividly.||Futurist|
Project Management Professional
|Work Ethic||You like to work hard and do your best at everything you put your mind to.||General aptitude – applies to all careers.|
Best Aptitudes to List on a Resume
The aptitude that you list on a resume depends on the type of job you apply for.
If you want a job in a mathematical field like engineering, you’d clearly want to demonstrate numerical aptitude and abstract reasoning.
But if you want a job in a creative field, then aptitudes for aesthetics and divergent thinking.
Below are some aptitudes that are transferable, meaning they would be great for most resume skill sections.
1. Interpersonal Intelligence
Interpersonal intelligence is an increasingly important aptitude for people to have in the 21st Century.
This is because we no longer live in a world where people work in isolation. More and more people need to work in teams, even if it’s over the internet! So, we need to work with different personalities and teams.
If you find yourself to be naturally good at interacting with others, then you’ll be very desirable to employers. You might be excellent at collaborating and bringing people together, which would make you a great team member.
2. Intrapersonal Intelligence
A person with an aptitude for intrapersonal intelligence is good at reflection and introspection.
This makes them a desirable employee because they’ll always be seeking ways to improve themselves. This sort of person is very good at identifying their own mistakes and ways to improve.
They are also often quick to identify how they could have done things differently to more positively affect the outcome. So, these sorts of people often have a strong internal locus of control.
An aptitude for organization is transferable across just about any career, so it’s great to include on a resume.
If you’ve got an aptitude for organization, then you like to keep your house tidy, you know where all your belongings are, and you can compartmentalize thoughts and objects.
You may also like to turn up early to events such as meetings because it makes you feel organized. By contrast, you feel very uncomfortable when you are rushed or your belongings are scattered.
4. Work Ethic
We would often call this an ‘aptitude for hard work’, although work ethic entails much more than just working hard.
Work ethic also involves having integrity at work. If you’ve got work ethic, then you’re the sort of person who is inclined to follow the rules, do the right thing by others, and put 100% into being the best worker you can.
Some people have an innate desire to work hard. They’ll be unsatisfied with boring work and always wanting to get involved and get active. Others who don’t have an aptitude for hard work will turn up to work and seek ways to avoid the work, preferring to sit back and hide until their shift is over.
How are Aptitudes and Abilities Different?
While aptitude is something that you’re naturally inclined to be good at, ability only occurs with time and practice. Aptitude is a good sign that you’ll be able to develop strong abilities over time.
Aptitude refers to your natural-born potential. That’s why we often call it a “natural aptitude” for something. You’ll often find that we use the term “aptitude” as a benchmark for whether or not someone should pursue a career or education in a particular field. For example, you might take an aptitude test before going to college or starting as an intern in a job.
Abilities refer to your skills that you have developed and refined through practice. While you may have an aptitude for singing (meaning you tend to be drawn to it and find it easy to learn), you’ll need to practice in order to truly have strong singing abilities.
A good analogy is basketball. If you’re tall, fast, athletic, and have good hand-eye coordination, then you’ve probably got an aptitude for basketball.
But if you want to become a professional basketball player, you’ll still need to develop your abilities. You’ll need to practice different types of shots, passes, and plays in order to truly be a skilled basketballer.
List of Aptitude Tests
Common aptitude tests include:
1. Abstract Reasoning Test
An abstract reasoning test will measure your ability to use reasoning when working with symbols. Often, it requires pattern identification.
These tests often use shapes and images to test how good you are at creating patterns.
For example, you might be given five images in a row, then a blank space for drawing the next image. The idea here is that you should be able to identify patterns in the first five images that will indicate what the sixth image would look like.
2. Numerical Reasoning Test
Numerical reasoning tests measure your ability to work with and manipulate numbers.
Generally, a numerical reasoning test will explore how you can work with tables, calculations, and graphs.
For example, you might be given a table with numbers filled into all but one or two cells. By looking at the surrounding cells, you would need to figure out which numbers go into the graph.
One form of a numerical reasoning test is Sudoku, which requires you to solve a puzzle by figuring out where numbers belong on a grid.
3. Comprehension Test
A comprehension test generally requires you to read text and answer questions about the text.
In school, you might hear this test being called a cloze passage. You may read 3 or 4 paragraphs and then answer a series of questions to see how well you understood what was communicated in the paragraphs.
Sometimes, such as when taking an ESL test, your comprehension test may be verbal. You may listen to someone reading a story and answer questions based on what you heard. In these instances, it might also be called a verbal reasoning test.
4. General Aptitude Test
General aptitude tests will test you on a range of aptitudes, including verbal, abstract, spatial, and logical reasoning.
The main purpose for a general aptitude test is for entry into an institution such as a university or a government job.
The test may return results showing you what you’ve got a good aptitude for, and what you don’t seem to be naturally gifted at.
The test may also be administered by a careers advisor at a high school so they can have a discussion with the student about potential career pathways that they could follow.
5. Spatial Reasoning Test
A spatial reasoning test will explore your ability to work with objects in space.
The test often involves using both 2D and 3D objects and require you to identify relationships between them, figure out how they might fit together, or stack and sort the objects.
These sorts of tests are likely to be administered when going into a job in engineering, architecture, or a similar career when you’re working with spaces and physical environments. They mat also be administered for pilots and truck drivers who need excellent spatial awareness.
6. Psychometric Test
Psychometric tests are designed to measure the person’s cognitive abilities and personality traits. They’re generalist aptitude tests.
These tests usually take the form of multiple-choice questions and are administered under timed conditions.
The results of the tests can be used to predict how well an individual is likely to perform in a particular role or situation.
For employers, this means that they can identify candidates who are most likely to succeed in the job.
For students, psychometric tests can provide valuable insights into their strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, they can choose the courses or programs that are best suited to their needs.
Everyone has their own unique collection of aptitudes that make them inclined to follow one educational or career path over another. To figure out your own aptitudes, reflect on the above list of aptitude examples and see which ones seem to resonate most with you.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]