What Are the Basics of a Psychological Assessment?


Quick Answer

A psychological assessment typically involves norm-referenced tests, an informal assessment, an observation and an interview, according to Psych Central. Performing these helps licensed psychologists form opinions about the subject’s behavior, personality and capabilities.

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Norm-referenced tests have been standardized using a distinct group, considered to be the norm group, explains Psych Central. Each score derived from these tests reflects the subject’s category compared to the norm group. These tests can be used to evaluate several different areas, including learning, motor skills and adaptive behavior. Informal assessments, such as career tests or teacher-made tests, may supplement norm-referenced tests.

A psychologist also needs to observe the subject in his or her natural environment, notes Psych Central. This gives the professional an idea of how the subject behaves in a typical setting and the environments in which he thrives. It can also help with devising treatment plans.

A formal interview can last between 30 and 60 minutes, during which the professional performing the interview gathers information about the subject’s childhood, experiences and family background.

Psychological assessments are not assigned a numerical score, according to Psych Central. Instead, the results are used to build a comprehensive assessment of the subject. The final result notes the strengths, weaknesses, competencies and limitations of the subject. Treatment recommendations are also included if necessary.

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