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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 individual’s 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 person’s

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.

Categories Sten Interpretation

Verbal Ability 1-3 Below average knowledge and understanding of words

and their use in day to day applications.

4-7 Ability to understand and apply English language in an

unstructured form.
8-10 Ability in comprehension and use of English words and

language. Extremely good vocabulary.

Numerical Ability 1-3 Below average facility in handling numbers and their use

in day to day application.

4-7 Average numerical ability showing fluency in

fundamental numerical operations.

8-10 High ability to understand numerical operations rapidly

and accurately.
Spatial Ability 1-3 Poor ability to perceive relationships and arrangement

among visual patterns.

4-7 Average ability to perceive spatial patterns clearly.

8-10 Extremely high ability to understand spatial relations and

grasp relationship among two-dimensional figures.

Closure Ability 1-3 Below average ability to perceive things in an organised

and meaningful manner.

4-7 Average ability to form a perceptually organised

structure, from vague or jumbled data.

8-10 Extremely high ability to understand and grasp

relationship among incomplete stimuli.

Clerical Ability 1-3 Poor ability for perceptual activities involving rapid

evaluation of features of visual stimuli.

4-7 Average ability to perform with speed and accuracy in a

monotonous task.
8-10 Extremely high ability to work with rapid speed and

accuracy in tasks which do not require higher level of

intellectual activity.
Reasoning Ability 1-3 Below average ability to deduce or logically understand

the relationship between different concepts.

4-7 Average ability to apply logical understanding from

specific concepts to general concepts.

8-10 Extremely high ability to grasp the relationship between

the unknown stimuli.

Mechanical 1-3 Poor understanding of basic mechanical principles

Ability underlying simple machines.

4-7 Average ability to understand the working of the basic

8-10 Extremely high ability to understand the technical

aspects of different machines.

Psycho-motor 1-3 Below average eye hand coordination in high work speed

Ability situations.
4-7 Average ability in fine motor skills with respect to

manual tasks.
8-10 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.