aptitude test written on note

More and more students use aptitude assessments to pick their major now. Among the best aptitude assessments available are the following:

  • Highlands Ability Battery
  • Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test
  • AIMS Aptitude Test

In our last post, we looked into the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test. Today, however, we’ll be discussing the AIMS Aptitude Test.

What Is Career Aptitude Testing?

Families use AIMS for its career aptitude testing capabilities. But what exactly is a career aptitude test? First, let’s clarify what aptitudes are not:

  • Aptitudes ARE NOT skills
  • Aptitudes ARE NOT interests
  • Aptitudes ARE NOT personalities

That’s simple enough to grasp. It’s not that a high school student’s skills, interests, or personalities aren’t vital. They are essential variables in the career planning equation. They are not, however, aptitudes. But that begs the question: “what are aptitudes?”

Aptitudes are natural abilities, the tasks we just wake up being good at. When we work to accomplish tasks our aptitudes align with, we master the work needed to achieve those tasks easier. In a way, aptitudes are our unique professional superpowers.

Here’s an example that illustrates aptitudes: Consider the classic composer Beethoven. We can likely agree that Beethoven spent thousands of hours refining his musicality. The time and energy you put into mastering something equate to skill.

Furthermore, we can agree that Beethoven likely enjoyed many parts of his career as a musician or composer. That enjoyment equates to interests, which, again, are not aptitudes.

Moreover, Beethoven was prone to fits of isolation.[1] His introverted tendencies, while impactful, pertain more to his personality than his aptitude. So then, how did Beethoven’s aptitude impact his career as a composer? The underlying talent and compulsion that possessed Beethoven to work with sculpting sounds are his aptitudes.

You see, like Beethoven’s musical talent, aptitudes push to be used. When I administer aptitude tests to students, they often already have some mastery of tasks their aptitudes fit them for. However, unless a student takes an aptitude test, they can’t be entirely sure if they have an aptitude for a career.

What is the AIMS Career Aptitude Testing Service?

This is where the AIMS aptitude test comes in. The AIMs aptitude test is an advanced aptitude assessment that specializes in helping students pick their college major and plan their careers. The assessment measures a high school student’s aptitudes or natural abilities.

AIMS, or the Aptitude Inventory Measurement Service, is an aptitude research institute. Their mission and the value of their services are summarized below:

AIMS is a nonprofit, tax-exempt research foundation which develops, administers, and interprets aptitude work samples. Studies show that the mental traits measured by these work samples are inherited, or determined so early in life that they do not change after puberty.[2]

As an aptitude specialist myself, one thing I admire about AIMS is its emphasis on guiding students to career paths. While the organization offers career aptitude testing services to anyone, they have a sizable amount of resources available for high school students.[3] [4] Additionally, they even have resources for college graduates[5] and prospective medical students.[6]

How are Aptitudes Measured?

The AIMS aptitude test measures aptitudes through a series of work samples. Work samples are like mini-tests that measure individual aptitudes. For example, one aptitude the AIMS test measures is called “Diagnostic Thinking.” Diagnostic thinking is a student’s ability to sense “a common relationship among ostensibly discrete ideas.”[7] Simply put, this is a person’s problem-solving aptitude. Students with higher diagnostic thinking scores often gravitate to careers that require them to solve problems quickly. One of the best examples of diagnostic thinking in the medical industry would be an ER doctor. ER doctors must promptly diagnose issues and then move on to new ones. An advanced aptitude test can measure this in a few different ways. Look below to see the primary work sample:

classification work sample

In the work sample, students must select images that have something in common. When finished, they’ll see another series of images, another, and so forth. The more they answer correctly within the time limit illustrates how proficient they are in that aptitude.

When students take the AIMS aptitude test, they’ll encounter a series of similar work samples. They’ll discover more than twenty work samples like this one. Notice how these work samples aren’t just yes or no questions. They’re more like micro activities, and the results of these activities measure a student’s aptitude for said activity.

Look below for a list of the aptitudes the AIMS aptitude test measures.[8] However, please be warned. This list below is just that: a list. To understand each aptitude, consider reading our more comprehensive article on understanding aptitudes.[9]

  1. Frame of Reference Aptitudes:
    • Generalist vs. Specialist
    • Introvert, Ambivert, and Extrovert
  2. Visualization: Structural or Abstract
  3. Divergent Thinking Aptitudes:
    •  Ideaphoria
    • Foresight
  4. Convergent Thinking Aptitudes:
    • Analytical Thinking
    • Diagnostic Thinking
  5. Perceptual Speed Aptitude
  6. Dexterities Aptitude
    • Finger Dexterity
    • Instrument Dexterity
  7. Verbal and Numerical Memory Aptitude
    • Associative Memory
    • Number Memory
  8. Aural Aptitudes
    • Pitch Discrimination
    • Loudness Discrimination
    • Time Discrimination
    • Rhythm Memory
    • Timbre Discrimination
    • Tonal Memory
  9. Design and Artistic Aptitudes
    • Design Memory
    • Design Preference
    • Design Judgement
  10. Dominance, Laterality, and Handedness
    • Eyeness and Handedness
    • Reading and College Preparation
  11. Other Factors
    •  Grip
    • Rate of Reading
    • Writing Speed
    • Interests

With a list as exhaustive as the one above, students gain a precise understanding of their abilities. However, the assessment must be long to measure so many aptitudes. And if that’s what you’re wondering, you’re right.

How long does the AIMS Test take?

stopwatchThe entire testing experience takes ten hours to finish. An additional follow-up discussion follows. The follow-up discussion is usually three-to-four hours long. AIMS’ aptitude services are completed over three separate sessions, which you must schedule in advance. The first two sessions are around four hours long.

For a summary of the test’s length, refer to the bullets below. Otherwise, keep reading for a detailed description of the testing experience.


  • AIMS Testing Session #1: 4-5 Hours
  • AIMS Testing Session #2: 4-5 Hours
  • AIMS Testing Analysis Discussion: 3-4 Hours

(Must be Scheduled 1 Month in advance)

 When a student takes the AIMS aptitude test, according to AIMS, they should expect complete work samples involving “headphones, computer monitors, and pencil-and-paper activities.”[10]

When students complete the first two sessions, they schedule their debrief. This lasts three to four hours. During the discussion, students and parents meet with one of AIMS’ aptitude specialists. Throughout the discussion, students learn about each of their aptitudes the AIMS test measured.

Additionally, students take the exam in the morning or afternoon. However, a parent or guardian must be present during the debriefing discussion if a student takes the AIMS test.

Is the AIMS Test Near Me?

While it’s possible, there’s a good chance that you don’t live near an AIMS testing center. AIMS has one location in Dallas, Texas. You’ll need to schedule an appointment and travel to their testing center to take an AIMS aptitude test. With that said, AIMS may travel to you if you can find ten or more people to commit to taking their assessment and pay the $200.00 fee required to take their aptitude assessment.

How much does the AMS Aptitude Test Cost?

According to AIMS, they require the following amount to take their testing services. While you can read their payment policy below,[11] here’s the gist of it. You’ll pay $925 for the AIMS aptitude test.

“The fee for testing, analysis, and recommendations is $925. A $200 deposit is required with the registration. The remaining balance of $725 is due at least two business days before the testing day….”

As mentioned, AIMS is the priciest aptitude test. And therein lies my primary criticism of the assessment. AIMS offers the most expensive and least accessible career aptitude assessment. While AIMS has resources designated for students preparing for college, a student could take the Highlands Ability Battery or the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test and then access that information on the AIMS website later.

With my criticisms aside, the AIMS aptitude test is a reliable assessment. However, parents hoping to test their students there must budget for travel expenses and testing fees.

For a conservative estimation of travel expenses, let’s say you’re traveling from Little Rock, AR.  To travel to AIM’s location in Dallas, here’s an estimate of the costs you’d pay:

  • Gas: $100.00
  • Hotel: $300.00 (2 nights)
  • Food: $240.00/ 2 people (6 meals at $20.00 a meal)
  • Total Travel Cost: $640.00 for two people.
  • Aptitude Testing Fee: $925.00
  • Total Travel Cost + Testing Fee: $2205.00

 So, now that you know how much the AIMS aptitude test costs, is it suitable for your student?

Is the AIMS Test Better Than the Johnson O’Connor Test?

what is the best optionIt depends. I don’t mean to lawyer around the question, but hear me out. The best strength AIMS has going for it is its emphasis on college readiness. If a parent tests their student with AIMS, they’ll likely speak to an aptitude specialist well-versed in AIMS’ considerable college readiness resources.

If your student tests at Johnson O’Connor, that may not be the case. However, there’s no doubt that Johnson O’Connor has far more centers than AIMS. Thus, the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test is far more accessible to most families for traveling. After all, Johnson O’Connor has 14 locations.[12] AIMS only has one. However, if accessibility is what you’re after, the Highlands Ability Battery is probably your best pick.

Are There Other Career Aptitude Tests Like The AIMS Test?

Yes. The Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) is a powerful alternative to the AIMS aptitude test. At almost half the price and the flexibility to take the assessment remotely, the HAB remains the most accessible option for families seeking quality aptitude testing near their homes.

The HAB has a host of other benefits (see below):

  • Permanent Access to an aptitude specialist
  • Interactive Reports for thorough career planning
  • Can be used in tandem with AIMS college resources
  • Flexibility to take aptitude tests over several sittings

If you google “AIMS testing near me,” and find out you’re not living close to the AIMS testing center, the HAB might work better for you. If you’d like to learn about the HAB and if it’s the right fit for you or your student, schedule a free consultation with our aptitude specialist.

Click here to schedule an aptitude test


The AIMS aptitude test is a powerful tool to ensure your student picks the right college major. By measuring your student’s natural abilities, you can ensure they succeed in a career that uses their inborn talents. If you’d like to learn more about aptitude testing and college planning, sign up for our newsletter!


[1] The Joy of Suffering Overcome: Young Beethoven’s Stirring Letter to His Brothers About the Loneliness of Living with Deafness and How Music Saved His Life. – Popova, Maria, 8 February 2017 – accessed at https://www.themarginalian.org/2017/02/08/beethoven-romain-rolland-letters on 23 January 2023.

[2] AIMS – Dallas – accessed at https://www.aimstesting.org/ on 23 January 2023.

[3] News & Resources — AIMS. – accessed at https://www.aimstesting.org/news-resources on 23 January 2023.

[4] College Recommendations – AIMS College Recommendations, accessed at https://www.aimstesting.org/news-resources, 26 September 2019, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57fbabb61b631be17ec6bfc2/t/57fc5489e4fcb5f48d6dc0e7/1476154507367/College+Recommendations.pdf on 23 January 2023.

[5] Aptitude Inventory Measurement Service – Bergfeld, Alicia, accessed at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57fbabb61b631be17ec6bfc2/t/57fc554ee4fcb5f48d6dcdbf/1476154702055/Test-after-College.pdf on 23 January 2023.

[6] Aptitude Inventory Measurement Service – Bergfeld, Alicia, accessed at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57fbabb61b631be17ec6bfc2/t/57fc5537e4fcb5f48d6dcd22/1476154679532/Medical-school.pdf on 23 January 2023.

[7] Unsolved Business ProblemsO’Connor, Johnson, editor, HASSELL STREET Press, 2021.

[8] The Aptitude Handbook. – AIMStesting.org, accessed at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57fbabb61b631be17ec6bfc2/t/57fc544de4fcb5f48d6dbea0/1476154479010/The+Aptitude+Handbook+May+1+2014.pdf on 23 January 2023.

[9] What Is An Aptitude Test? – Gray, Marcus, accessed at /what-is-an-aptitude-test/ on 23 January 2023.

[10] FAQ — AIMS – AIMS, accessed at https://www.aimstesting.org/faq on 23 January 2023.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Locations Archive – Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, accessed at https://www.jocrf.org/locations/ on 23 January 2023.


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