Aptitude tests help students pick their careers. However, the benefits of taking aptitude aren’t just for career planning. As it turns out, the proper aptitude test helps high school students become better students.

Many parents invest in aptitude testing well into their student’s senior year in high school. While this is far better than not taking an aptitude test, why wait until your student completes high school to reap the benefits of an advanced aptitude test?

What Age Should a High School Student Take An Aptitude Test

Parents often ask me, “when should my child take an aptitude test?”

There’s an easy answer


Students can take an aptitude test when they turn 14 years old. For US students, that’s well into their 8th or 9th-grade year of school. If students take an aptitude test at 14 years old, that’s four years a student can reap the benefits of understanding their aptitudes. This helps students in several ways that we’ll cover in this blog.

Here are the primary benefits of taking an aptitude test as early as possible:

  • Know how your student best learns
  • Understand which extracurriculars and electives come naturally to your student
  • Learn which foreign language your student learns your student should take
  • See your student’s musical aptitude

In the rest of this article, we’ll dive into each of these benefits so you can see which would best help your student.

Know How Your Student Best Learns

Simply put, students go to school to learn. So, the better your student learns, the better they’ll perform in school. Depending on the aptitude test your student takes, you can see how your student best learns.

We use the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) when testing students. The HAB offers insight into five crucial ways your student learns. These five learning aptitudes are called “learning channels.” While we touched on this in our last post, we’ll explore them in more detail in this post.

chart on learning

Design Memory

Your student’s design memory score impacts their ability to recall images. Students with a higher design memory can expect an easier time memorizing diagrams, charts, or image-based information. They may also be drawn to hobbies focusing on images, such as drawing, graphic design, and 3D modeling.

Number Memory

At face value, you’d think your student’s number memory score would affect their math skills. However, number memory primarily measures your student’s ability to recall miscellaneous facts and data. Additionally, it impacts a person’s ability to use numbers to make decisions (such as in data analysis or coding in the computer sciences). Therefore, those who score low on this ability may find it challenging to remember numerical information outside their interests or day-to-day life.

Rhythm Memory

Your student’s rhythm memory affects their ability to learn kinesthetically or through movement. Students with a high rhythm memory often struggle to sit still and find that moving more helps them remember things. Many athletes have a high rhythm memory, as well as musicians. Those with a low rhythm memory can often remain still for long periods, allowing them to focus longer on schoolwork.

Tonal Memory

Does your student prefer listening to audiobooks or podcasts over reading? It might be because they have a high tonal memory. A high or low tonal memory will influence your student’s ability to remember what they hear. When tonal memory is higher than verbal memory, a student will find that listening to information will have higher chances retention rates than reading information.

Verbal Memory

Verbal memory is almost synonymous with reading retention. With low verbal memory, your student will have a harder time remembering written information. This makes studying with notes much more difficult and even discouraging when your student’s peers seem to have no difficulty studying textual information. With a high verbal memory, the classic “studying my notes” likey works great with your student. They may even find that reading over their notes once or twice is enough to prepare for some exams adequately.

Aptitude Tests Help Your Student Pick Extracurriculars

Sometimes picking a student’s classes, electives, and extracurriculars feels like this:

choosing a direction

These choices can be overwhelming because there are consequences if you make the wrong choice.

What are the consequences of picking the wrong hobbies or courses? Well, they are twofold: students waste time, and parents waste money. If a student takes an art class when they’re better-wired coding (or vice versa), a student will struggle needlessly in a class that didn’t optimize their strengths.

Aptitude tests can fix that.

Not only do aptitude tests make effective learning more likely, but they also help pick your extracurriculars. The learning channels you read above don’t just impact learning; they impact the performance of many activities.

These activities include artistic talent, music ability, and foreign language mastery. While no aptitude tests measure raw creativity, the HAB shows students which creative tasks they’ll find easier to master.

Discover Your Student’s Foreign Language Aptitude

Practically every high school requires students complete foreign language credits. So then, which foreign language should students take? While you can’t go wrong with Spanish, Mandarin is a great choice as well. But how can parents know which foreign language their students should take?

There are three primary abilities that measure foreign language aptitude:

  • Tonal Memory
  • Pitch Discrimination
  • Verbal Memory

Foreign Language Aptitude for High School Students

Your students’ tonal memory impacts how easily they can remember sounds. Thus, tonal memory helps a student learn how to speak foreign languages. When students can better remember the sounds they hear, they have an easier time recreating those sounds. Contrastingly, when a student’s tonal memory is low, they may struggle with the speaking part of learning a foreign language.

Learn Another Language

Aptitudes Show Which Foreign Language My Student Should Take

That’s right. The HAB can help you decide which foreign language your student should take. For example, while tonal memory helps students remember how words sound, their pitch discrimination score helps them replicate accents and more nuanced sounds. This means that students with higher pitch discrimination may also have an easier time learning Asian foreign languages like Mandarin or Japanese.

Which Aptitude Helps Students Learn How to Write a Foreign Language

When it comes to reading and writing a foreign language, verbal memory helps the most. Since verbal memory helps students remember textual information, students with a high verbal memory find reading a foreign language comes quicker. However, this doesn’t mean that a student with a low verbal memory can’t learn to read and write a foreign language. It just means that it may take more time and effort to master.

Find Your Student’s Musical Aptitude

Music talent is tricky. A student can take years of piano lessons only to find out they’re more drawn to the violin. Thus, families can waste a lot of time and money on training a student in the wrong instrument or musical talent.

teenagers in music class

Guess what helps fix this problem?

Yes! The proper aptitude test can show you some of your student’s musical abilities. The HAB measures three musical abilities.

  • Tonal Memory
  • Pitch Discrimination
  • Rhythm Memory

Keep reading to see which musical aptitudes you think your student might have.

Your Student’s Musical Aptitude

Tonal memory impacts your students’ musical ability the greatest. With a keen ability to remember sounds, musicians with a high tonal memory find sounds easier to create on their instrument of choice.

A High School Student’s Aptitude for String Instruments

Tonal memory isn’t the only musical aptitude. Pitch discrimination helps as well. Pitch discrimination determines how a student can distinguish between pitches of sound. A high pitch discrimination makes playing string instruments easier to master. This means your student might have an affinity for instruments like the violin, oboe, and cello.

Your Student’s Rhythm Aptitude

While it doesn’t guarantee dance talent, rhythm memory helps your student stay on beat. In addition, a high rhythm memory allows your student to navigate musical tempos easier. And yes, it does help with dancing, remembering movements, and other gestures of musical expression. For example, it’s pretty standard for actors to have a high rhythm memory.


The HAB isn’t just a career aptitude test. Aptitude tests for high school students help in more ways than just career planning. As we’ve discussed today, taking an aptitude test helps you plan your student’s high school career and future career. The benefits are manifold:

  • Discover how your student best learns
  • Know what extracurricular activities best serve your student
  • Find which foreign language your student should learn
  • Learn your student’s musical aptitude

To discover your student’s natural aptitudes, schedule a free consultation with us now! If you have questions about aptitude testing, leave one in the comments. And for more aptitude testing content, sign up for our newsletter!


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