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Davis Battery of Differential Abilities

Aptitude is the implication of innateness now referred as the fact of the individual that
can be brought about by a specified amount of training to a specified level of ability,
either general or special. Aptitude is defined as a condition or a set of characteristics
regarded as symptomatic of an individuals ability to acquire with training some (usually
specified) Knowledge, skill or set of responses such as the ability to speak a language, to
produce music. (Bennett, Seashore, & Wesman, 1982)
The application of factor analytic studies of mental abilities has led to the increasing
use of multi-aptitude test batteries in educational and vocational guidance. These batteries
are composed of a series of individual tests built around the premise of factor analysis.
One such battery is the Differential Aptitude Test. The Differential Aptitude Test or
DAT were first published in 1947 and has been subject to three major revisions since first
constructed. The test was originally developed to provide a well standardized procedure
for measuring the multiple aptitudes of students in grades 8 through 12 for purposes of
educational and vocational guidance.
Description of the test
Davis Battery of Differential Abilities (DBDA) has been revised in order to have an
accurate measure of individuals various mental abilities. The DBDA (revised version) is a
standardized procedure for objectively measuring what a person is able to do a at the time
he is being assessed and under the conditions of the assessment. It has a high predictive
validity but the predictability may not be the same because abilities are the product of
nature as well as nurture as mental functioning will be influenced by extrinsic factors

such as cultural exposures including quality of education and personality factors.

The different abilities are measured using different sub tests that are administered
one after the other. Each of these sub tests are timed and the timings have to be
maintained strictly. Time is disclosed for all the tests except for Spatial Ability and
Clerical Ability. The abilities that are measured in DBDA- (R) are:
1. Verbal Ability (VA)- Refers to the comprehension of words and ideas, or a persons
ability to understand written language.
2. Numerical Ability (NA)- It refers to facility in manipulating numbers quickly and
accurately in tasks involving mathematical knowledge.
3. Spatial Ability (SA)- Refers to perceived spatial patterns accurately, and following the
orientation of figures when their positions in a plane or space is altered.
4. Closure Ability (CA)- It is an ability to see quickly a whole stimulus when parts of it
are missing or incomplete.
5. Clerical Ability (CL) - Refers to a perceptual activity concerned with rapid
evaluations of features of visual stimuli.
6. Reasoning Ability (RA)- Refers to the ability to apply the process of induction or to
reason from some specific information to a general principle.
7. Mechanical Ability (MA)- Refers to an understanding of basic mechanical principles,
simple machines, tools, electrical and automotive facts.
8. Psychomotor Ability (PM)- Refers to precise movements requiring eye hand
coordination and also fine muscle dexterity, primarily manual under high speed

Scoring and Interpretation

The stencil given is placed above the score sheet. The answers that are circled are the
correct answers. The client gains, 1 point for every correct answer. The scores are added
in every category and then the Sten score is found out using the Sten score sheet.
Generally a Sten score of 4, 5, 6 or 7 is indicative of an average level of ability. A
Sten score of 1,2 or 3 is indicative of a lower level of ability. A score range from 8 to 10
indicates a high level of skills in the particular ability domain.
An individual may have a higher ability in one domain, and not in the other. This
helps to determine the aptitude in the particular area.
Table 1.1 shows the categories along with the sten score and its interpretation.



Verbal Ability


Below average knowledge and understanding of words


and their use in day to day applications.

Ability to understand and apply English language in an


unstructured form.
Ability in comprehension and use of English words and

Numerical Ability 1-3

Spatial Ability

language. Extremely good vocabulary.

Below average facility in handling numbers and their use


in day to day application.

Average numerical ability showing fluency in


fundamental numerical operations.

High ability to understand numerical operations rapidly


and accurately.
Poor ability to perceive relationships and arrangement
among visual patterns.

Closure Ability

Clerical Ability


Average ability to perceive spatial patterns clearly.


Extremely high ability to understand spatial relations and


grasp relationship among two-dimensional figures.

Below average ability to perceive things in an organised


and meaningful manner.

Average ability to form a perceptually organised


structure, from vague or jumbled data.

Extremely high ability to understand and grasp


relationship among incomplete stimuli.

Poor ability for perceptual activities involving rapid


evaluation of features of visual stimuli.

Average ability to perform with speed and accuracy in a


monotonous task.
Extremely high ability to work with rapid speed and
accuracy in tasks which do not require higher level of

Reasoning Ability 1-3


intellectual activity.
Below average ability to deduce or logically understand


the relationship between different concepts.

Average ability to apply logical understanding from


specific concepts to general concepts.

Extremely high ability to grasp the relationship between


the unknown stimuli.

Poor understanding of basic mechanical principles


underlying simple machines.

Average ability to understand the working of the basic


Extremely high ability to understand the technical


aspects of different machines.



Below average eye hand coordination in high work speed


Average ability in fine motor skills with respect to


manual tasks.
Extremely high fine muscle dexterity in manual tasks.


Practical Applications of this battery

1. This battery is majorly used in Career counselling, to help the client to decide the
most suitable career for himself based on the his level of ability.
2. It is majorly used by educators as well as students to help them understand the
next steps of the educational options such as choosing a major course at college or
3. It is even used for appropriate selection of applicants for employment.

Asthana, Bipin (2009). Measurement and Evaluation in Psychology and Education, Agra
Agarwal Publications.
Psychology Laboratory Workbook for III Year B.A/ B.Sc Paper I Aptitude and ability
tests (2005), Bangalore University, Psychometrics Publication : Bangalore.