teenagers taking testOur last post discussed pricing the three primary aptitude tests we recommend. Today, we’re diving into another aptitude test: YouScience. This aptitude assessment took over dozens of public schools nationwide.[1][2][3]

The advice aptitude tests give is not trivial. I use aptitude testing in my college counseling practice to help students pick their college majors, determine college size, and plan their future careers. These are no small tasks. Nevertheless, the proper aptitude test can have beneficial effects. Meanwhile, the wrong one can spell doom for a student’s career planning.

Contrastingly, using reliable aptitude testing comes with many powerful benefits. With an advanced aptitude test, students gain insight into the following:

  • Which professional tasks capitalize on their inborn strengths
  • Aptitude-centered career suggestions
  • Data-driven learning strategies
  • Medical and mechanical aptitude measurements
  • Foreign language aptitude
  • Musical instrumental aptitude

Who wouldn’t want to know this (especially parents)? With these insights, parents and educators can help kids strategically plan for their future careers. If YouScience can reliably measure these aptitudes, it’s the answer to a prayer both higher and secondary education has uttered for decades. If it’s not, it joins the long list of scammy aptitude tests that proliferate the internet.[4][5]

So, is YouScience a scam? Or, is it the accessible aptitude test we’ve waited for as it claims to be? As you might have guessed, the answer is nuanced, lying somewhere in the middle. Keep reading to find out how.

Table of Contents 

  1. What is YouScience (jump to section)
  2. The strengths of YouScience (jump to section)
  3. The weaknesses of YouScience (jump to section)
  4. My verdict on YouScience (jump to section)
  5. Consider this if using YouScience (jump to section)

What is YouScience?

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what is itYouScience is an aptitude assessment company. As described on their website, their aptitude test does the following:

YouScience Aptitude and Career Discovery: Helps students discover their natural aptitudes and connects them to highly personal and relevant pathways.[6]

The face value the assessment gives is clear. First, it helps high school students understand their natural talents. By doing so, students can plan for their futures with intention and honed precision. After all, an aptitude test measures an individual’s innate abilities, talents, and potential in various areas. As such, aptitude assessments have been used for decades to help individuals make informed career choices.

Additionally, the company has vast marketing resources. Because of this, the assessment became famous overnight. In my circle of educators, virtually every high school teacher I know has heard of YouScience. Many school districts use YouScience now to assess all their students. For example, Georgia’s Department of Education contracted YouScience to give aptitude assessments to every student in the state.[7] Additionally, in my local education community in Arkansas, Little Rock Christian Academy has begun using YouScience to aid in their school’s career prep.[8]

However, like any other tool, it has advantages and limitations. This article will discuss the pros and cons of the YouScience Aptitude Test to help individuals make informed decisions about using this tool.

Strengths of YouScience

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With its growing popularity, parents must understand YouScience’s capabilities. Doing so lets parents know if using YouScience as their student’s preferred aptitude test makes sense. After all, career and college planning is no trivial matter. YouScience isn’t advising students what kind of socks to buy; it’s explicitly telling them what type of career to pursue! That choice could make or break a student’s college experience, to say nothing of how it can impact their career.

With that said, as an aptitude test specialist, there’s much YouScience does right. I took the test in 2021 and can attest that it is an aptitude test. I can also see why it’s growing so fast. One of the reasons the aptitude assessment grew in popularity is its remote testing option (which we explore below). Additionally, YouScience is the cheapest aptitude test available. Finally, YouScience also provides the shortest aptitude test available. While it isn’t the only aptitude test offering remote testing, it’s among the only two to do so. Let’s take a look at each of these advantages in more detail.

Accessible Remote Testing

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Like the Highlands Ability Battery,[9] students can take the YouScience test remotely.[10] This makes the assessment incredibly accessible for most students and families. Remote testing may not sound like a game changer, but it is. How YouScience administers its remote testing contrasts sharply with the Johnson O’Connor Test and the AIMS Aptitude Test. As we’ve described in previous articles,[11] many families must travel far to take aptitude tests.

The Johnson O’Connor test is based in Dallas, Texas. The AIMS is also based in Dallas, Texas.[12] The Johnson O’Connor has 14 locations across the country, which still means a lot of traveling for most students. It’s a sacrifice for most families, or at least a sizable inconvenience, to travel to those locations. So, YouScience remains an accessible option for families.

Affordability and Low-Cost

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YouScience is the least expensive aptitude test available. Being the cheapest aptitude assessment has likely contributed to its viral growth. When I initially took the evaluation a couple of years ago, I paid $200.00. Since then, YouScience has reduced the price of their assessment by $150.00. That’s right. Anyone can go on their website, make an account, and take the YouScience aptitude test for $49.00.[13]

chart showing test costs

To YouScience’s incredibly low price, I say kudos. However they managed to lower their cost, it’s great for families who can’t afford the higher costs of traditional aptitude tests.

YouScience is the Shortest Aptitude Test

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Time and money remain our most valuable resource. We’ve discussed the affordability of YouScience. However, YouScience also saves students time. The other three aptitude tests take three to eight hours to complete. That begs the question… How long does it take to complete YouScience? It takes 90 minutes or 1.5 hours to complete the YouScience Aptitude Test.

Test comparisons

That may seem like a long time. But consider this: that’s about half as long as the Highlands Ability Battery, an aptitude test I use in my practice. To put that into perspective, the Johnson O’Connor Test takes 8 hours to complete. This doesn’t count the 1-1.5 hours debrief after a student finishes the Johnson O’Connor testing. So, this means YouScience takes around 1/5th of the time the Johnson O’Connor aptitude test does!

Sometimes, convincing students to complete their aptitude assessment resembles herding cats. With only a 1.5-hour aptitude test, for a high school student, that’s an easier pill to swallow. Consider a parent saying, “You can take the 1.5-hour or the 8-hour aptitude test, choose.” Most students I know will pick the shorter one. So, getting student buy-in, especially when put in that context, might be more manageable.

Weaknesses of YouScience

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YouScience breaks a few records regarding aptitude testing. However, despite its popularity, it’s not perfect. Popularity, after all, doesn’t equal productivity.[14] Case in point, a widespread medical practice in the 1950s involved doctors recommending smoking as a remedy for throat irritation.[15][16] In the business world, this is called a scam. Though I’m sure, cigarette companies didn’t think so. But while an inaccurate aptitude test won’t give you lung cancer, it can give terrible advice.[17]

Regarding aptitude testing, less isn’t always more. Just because an aptitude test is cheap, short, and easy to access doesn’t mean it’s a better assessment. That’s my overall criticism of YouScience. With all its benefits, it remains an abbreviated aptitude test compared to its more thorough and robust aptitude testing competitors.

Measures Least Amount of Aptitudes

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To put it candidly, of all the aptitude tests, YouScience measures the least. However, it’s not so much that it measures less than the Highlands Ability Battery and Johnson O’Connor. After all, technically, the AIMS test measures the most aptitudes.[18] Yet, some of the talents the AIMS test measures are irrelevant to many of my students. An example is that AIMS measures artistic preference, an aptitude that often only finds relevance among fields of fine arts. The Johnson O’Connor, to my knowledge, doesn’t measure this aptitude, nor does the Highlands Ability Battery. However, that doesn’t mean the AIMS must be the superior aptitude test of the three. The graph below compares YouScience’s measurements to the other primary aptitude assessments.

Aptitude test comparisons

There are some fundamental aptitudes that we must measure. If they are not measured, the analysis of one’s aptitudes remains incomplete, no matter what other strengths the aptitude assessment may have. Unfortunately, YouScience falls short on two fronts here. First, the evaluation fails to measure a primary spatial reasoning aptitude. Lastly, YouScience doesn’t measure any of the auditory talents. This may not sound like much, but those abilities play a crucial role in the ecology of one’s career aptitudes.

Missing Mechanical or Spatial Visualization Aptitudes

I work with many students who want to study medicine or engineering. Additionally, many want to study architecture, technology, and computer science. All these professions share two aptitudes in common: High Spatial Relations Visualization and High Spatial Relations Theory. Students who score high on these aptitudes will often find many tasks associated with the earlier-mentioned careers easier. In other words, it will likely take less time to master the skills associated with those professions. Of course, this doesn’t mean the student will like or enjoy these careers, just that the learning curve may not be as difficult.

Many families I work with want to know their students’ spatial aptitudes. High spatial aptitudes don’t guarantee success in these career fields but show that the student’s talents align with the occupation. For whatever reason, YouScience only measures one spatial aptitude, not both. The assessment tests a student’s Spatial Relations Theory but fails to measure Spatial Relations Visualization.

Why does this matter? Well, consider this. Imagine if a student has a low spatial relations visualization. If so, tasks involving three-dimensional objects or materials might be challenging to them (that’s many medical and engineering professions). However, let’s say that the student’s Spatial Relations Theory is high. Their high Spatial Relations Theory allows them to more easily envision how hypothetical scenarios might play out, make connections between theoretical concepts, and anticipate how different systems work together. Looking at this student solely from an aptitude standpoint, this student would have an easier time navigating the world of ideas and intangibilities than the mechanical world.

To illustrate, this student would likely excel at corporate law rather than engineering. Likewise, they would need help navigating the ER doctor’s responsibilities over those of a Marketing Director. This doesn’t mean the student can’t become a doctor or an engineer, just that various parts of those careers will be more challenging.

Now, imagine if that student took the YouScience aptitude test. The assessment would tell that student that they would excel at those careers. However, what would happen to that student if they enrolled in architecture courses and discovered they weren’t a natural structural engineer? At worst, they’d think something was wrong with them. At best, they’d think they took a bogus aptitude test. Of course, YouScience isn’t phony, but it is incomplete. The aptitude test only measures Spatial Relations Theory. Thus, I don’t believe the assessment can reliably tell if a student has mechanical aptitude since it only measures half of them.

No Auditory Aptitudes

At face value, auditory aptitudes lack relevance to most. After all, if you don’t sing and play a musical instrument, why should auditory aptitudes matter? But, as it turns out, auditory talents serve as crucial threads in the web of a student’s natural abilities. So humor me for a minute, and think about how important sound is in your life.

With automated sound alerts, we use chimes and roaring alarms to wake up each morning. You often hear audible signals in the form of ringtones when you receive a call or a text. We mainly use sound to converse with loved ones, exchange information, and maintain our most meaningful and immediate relationships. Through sound, we listen to and produce music. Just by hearing the pitch of a person’s voice, we can tell if they’re upset, glad, or bored. We can vocalize a labyrinth of linguistic complexity by vocalizing language. In short, sound impacts so much of how we interact with the world. Because of sound’s importance, several auditory aptitudes represent the part it can have in our careers.

Need I mention the role sound plays in our education? Did you know that two of the three foreign language aptitudes are auditory? If you’re high on one but low on the other, that determines if you’d have an easier time speaking Mandarin. Likewise, those with low tonal memory (the primary auditory aptitude) will struggle to retain the information they encounter via sound. This means they’ll need to take practical notes to recall the information later or find a way to transfer that knowledge into another learning aptitude.[19]

Additionally, kinesthetic learners often possess a high rhythm memory. Those who don’t have a high rhythm memory often find sitting still for extended periods easier to do than others. Likewise, if a student is high on all the sound aptitudes, music will likely be essential to them. And if not, they’ll probably feel a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Often, humans also have different linguistic associations with the same word depending on whether they heard or read it.

For example, I test students to determine whether they are generalists or specialists. To do that, using the Highlands Ability Battery, the assessment shows them a series of words to which they must write responses. Then, when they finish, they are given a similar work sample again. But this time, they read AND HEAR the word. By capturing these different results, we can predict behaviors they’ll likely exhibit during their career.

I’m often surprised to see how different the written and audible responses are, sometimes night and day. This determines a student’s project management style, whether to work as an expert or a delegator, explore deep interests, or seek variety in their careers (or a variegated mixture). Sadly, YouScience only measures the reading portion of this work sample because they don’t use sound in their aptitude assessment.

Do you see what’s lost here? YouScience’s generalist/specialist work sample can only measure how students will react to professional scenarios students read, not encounter via sound. For example, the work sample would be sufficient if students only interacted textually with their coworkers and employers. But, alas, unless a student is hard of hearing or is completely deaf, the aptitude measurements remain incomplete. And as any data scientist will tell you, incomplete measurements lead to inaccuracy.

Lack of Career Guidance for Students

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Understanding aptitudes is a labyrinth of complexity. My second criticism of YouScience lies in the lack of real-time guidance they give students to help them understand their talents. As it turns out, measuring aptitudes is a far different animal to teaching them to students. If YouScience measured every aptitude under the sun, 99% of students would need an aptitude specialist to help interpret their results. A 15-18-year-old high school student will need far more than an aptitude testing report to understand their aptitude test accurately.

A similar comparison might be getting the result of an MRI but not having a radiologist analyze it. While a layperson may look at an x-ray and tell that a bone is broken, they likely couldn’t make sense of an advanced brain scan. Aptitude testing is similar. A parent or student may have the wherewithal to make a vague sense of an aptitude report. Yet, much will be beyond them. Most importantly, most won’t be able to use the report for its intended purpose: to match students to careers.

Consider this. I’ve used advanced aptitude testing for years, and there’s still stuff I’m learning. I meet with colleagues, read articles on aptitude testing,[20][21][22][23] and attend aptitude training conferences[24] to stay up to speed. This is all after I completed a 16-hour training to certify to administer aptitude assessments.[25] I don’t write this to boast or draw vainglorious attention to my credentials. I mention this to illustrate the amount of training it takes to interpret career aptitudes accurately.

YouScience doesn’t require a certified aptitude consultant to debrief students on their results. So, again, YouScience measures valuable aptitude data. However, without an expert to guide students toward using the report, the reports are only as good as students can understand and use them. This is the main reason why I endorse the Highlands Ability Battery. The Highlands Company requires all its consultants to administer a live debrief with every person who gets their aptitudes measured. That person’s debrief is where the magic happens. An experienced aptitude specialist can gauge and respond to what a student grasps and escapes. In addition, the consultant ensures that parents know how to use their student’s reports.

Verdict of the YouScience Aptitude Test

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verdictDespite how critical I’ve been in the last few paragraphs, YouScience is a great tool. What it does, it does well. It’s accessible, affordable, and single-handedly brought aptitude testing into the mainstream conversation of secondary education. Consequently, many high schools and colleges now use YouScience as the favored career assessment for the campus.[26][27][28]

As with any tool, though, YouScience has its limits. And as an aptitude specialist, I can confidently say that YouScience tragically wins the most limited aptitude test. It’s not that the tests aren’t accurate so much as that it’s incomplete. Without the auditory abilities combined with missing half of the mechanical aptitudes, it just doesn’t give the value the remaining three aptitude tests provide.[29]

If You Plan On Using YouScience, Remember to…

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If a family uses YouScience, see an aptitude testing specialist within your school. If YouScience is administered in your student’s school, a guidance counselor or educator will likely have some training using the assessment. Make an appointment with that person and lean on them as much as possible to help them interpret your student’s results.

Your school district likely doesn’t administer YouScience. Thus, if you seek to use YouScience outside your school, find an Independent Educational Consultant in your community who uses YouScience. They will likely show what they do on their website. Many consultants I know will charge around $150-$200 for a YouScience debrief. So it may cost you more money in the long run. But you’ll be able to use your YouScience Reports more practically with the aid of a consultant.

If your family can afford an aptitude test, I recommend doing so. The Highlands Ability is the most affordable option and requires no travel time. The Johnson O’Connor and AIMs cost more and require you to travel to one of their research centers. See a breakdown of the cost in the graph below.

Aptitude test comparisons

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[1] Ark, Tom V. “Home.” YouTube, 11 April 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanderark/2022/08/23/how-youscience-is-closing-the-aptitude-and-interest-gap/?sh=1c8bc2097702. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[2] “YouScience Evaluation – Archived | The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.” The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, https://gosa.georgia.gov/youscience-evaluation-archived. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[3] Kuykendall, Kristal. “YouScience Unveils New Education-to-Career Solution for Schools: Brightpath.” THE Journal, 22 February 2023, https://thejournal.com/articles/2023/02/22/youscience-unveils-new-education-to-career-platform-brightpath.aspx?admgarea=News1. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[4] Gray, Marcus. “How Do I Find My Career Aptitude? | Picking The Right Test.” Odyssey College Prep, 11 October 2022, /how-do-i-find-my-career-aptitude/. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[5] Gray, Marcus. “How To Find The Right High School Aptitude Test | Overview.” Odyssey College Prep, 13 September 2022, /find-right-high-school-aptitude-test/. Accessed 24 March 2023.

[6] “About us.” YouScience, https://www.youscience.com/about-us/. Accessed 28 March 2023.

[7] “YouScience Evaluation – Archived | The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.” The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, https://gosa.georgia.gov/youscience-evaluation-archived. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[8] Kenyon, Carla. “Home.” Little Rock Christian.com, Little Rock Christian Academy, https://www.littlerockchristian.com/cf_enotify/view.cfm?n=811. Accessed 28 March 2023.

[9] The Highlands Company. “Register to Take the Highlands Ability Battery Online.” Highlands Ability Battery, https://www.highlandsco.com/take-the-hab/. Accessed 29 March 2023.

[10] College Made Clear. “YouScience Introduction — College Made Clear.” College Made Clear, http://www.collegemadeclear.com/youscience1. Accessed 29 March 2023.

[11] Gray, Marcus. “How Much Should An Aptitude Test Cost? | Is It Worth It?” Odyssey College Prep, Odyssey College Prep LLC, 20 March 2023, /how-much-should-an-aptitude-test-cost/. Accessed 29 March 2023.

[12] Gray, Marcus. “Where Can I Take An Aptitude Test?” Odyssey College Prep, 23 November 2022, /where-can-i-take-an-aptitude-test/. Accessed 28 March 2023.

[13] You Science. “Buy now.” YouScience, https://www.youscience.com/buy-now/. Accessed 29 March 2023.

[14] Gray, Marcus. “3 Reasons Why Test Optional is a Scam.” Odyssey College Prep, 2 November 2021, /3-reasons-why-test-optional-is-a-scam/. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[15] Rodrigues, Jason. “When smoking was cool, cheap, legal and socially acceptable.” The Guardian, 31 March 2009, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/apr/01/tobacco-industry-marketing. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[16] “Big Tobacco led throat doctors to blow smoke.” Stanford Medicine, Standford Medicine, 23 January 2012, https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/01/big-tobacco-led-throat-doctors-to-blow-smoke.html. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[17] Gray, Marcus. “How Do I Find My Career Aptitude? | Picking The Right Test.” Odyssey College Prep, 11 October 2022, /how-do-i-find-my-career-aptitude/. Accessed 23 March 2023.

[18] Gray, Marcus. “What is the AIMS Aptitude Test?” Odyssey College Prep, 25 January 2023, /what-is-the-aims-aptitude-test/. Accessed 29 March 2023.

[19] Gray, Marcus. “Benefits Of High School Aptitude Test – Pt 2.” Odyssey College Prep, 30 September 2022, /benefits-aptitude-test-in-high-school-part-2/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[20] O’Connor, Johnson. “A Practical Guide To Using Your Aptitudes.” Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation, April 2021, https://www.jocrf.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/JOCRF-Choosing-Intelligently.pdf. Accessed 30 March 2023

[21] The Highlands Company. “What is the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) Assessment?” Highlands Ability Battery, https://www.highlandsco.com/whats-highlands-ability-battery/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[22] The Highlands Company. “The Importance of the Feedback Session with the.” Highlands Ability Battery, 29 August 2022, https://www.highlandsco.com/the-power-of-feedback-why-the-hab-includes-an-in-depth-debrief-session/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[23] The Highlands Company. “Transforming Careers with Data-Driven Results: How aptitude testing will provide real insights for real-life solutions – The Highlands Company.” Highlands Ability Battery, 27 March 2023, https://www.highlandsco.com/transforming-careers-with-data-driven-results-how-aptitude-testing-will-provide-real-insights-for-real-life-solutions/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[24] CounselMore. “Educational Consultant Accelerator 2023 | College Counseling Software.” CounselMore, https://www.counselmore.com/accelerator-2023. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[25] Stiles, Dori. “Ability Battery (HAB) Consultant Certification.” Highlands Ability Battery, https://www.highlandsco.com/get-started/become-a-consultant/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[26] University of Colorado Boulder. “YouScience | Career Services.” University of Colorado Boulder, https://www.colorado.edu/career/youscience. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[27] Fowers, Bridget. “District implements YouScience to provide meaningful career exploration for high school students.” YouScience, 28 August 2019, https://www.youscience.com/youscience-helps-county-schools-measure-vocational-aptitude/. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[28] You Science. “GA – Implementation Planning.” Help Center, https://knowledgebase.youscience.com/ga_implementation-planning. Accessed 30 March 2023.

[29] Gray, Marcus. “Understanding The Different Types Of Aptitude Tests | Recap.” Odyssey College Prep, 3 February 2023, /different-types-of-aptitude-tests-series-recap/. Accessed 30 March 2023.


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