The Science

The following links provide technical and validity information about McQuaig.

Major psychometric instruments in the UK should be registered with the BPS and PTC  to prove it passes all the benchmarks laid down by the European Federation of Psychologists Association (EFPA).

Test Registration provides members of the public with a means of distinguishing genuine psychometric instruments from other less rigorous and objective instruments. This also includes other forms of assessment that do not meet the minimum criteria necessary for classification as a psychometric instrument.

British Psychological Society & the McQuaig Psychometric SystemMcQuaig has been reviewed in depth by the BPS  been awarded the ‘Quality Mark’ from the Psychological Testing Centre (PTC)Click here for the review. Originally formed to consolidate activities in Psychological Testing, The Psychological Testing Centre (PTC) includes:

  • Educational and Clinical testing.
  • Publishing and dissemination of advisory statements in addition guidelines and other literature on standards for the construction, use and availability of tests.
  • Considers the training requirements and qualifications of test users.

McQuaig Psychometric Test System in the UK

Here you will find all the technical information you need about McQuaig.

Technical Overview download here (pdf 121kb).

Read and download the McQuaig Full Technical Manual.

A comprehensive report on studies undertaken into The McQuaig Word Survey® and The McQuaig Job Survey®, including summary tables, which illustrate their validity. Word Survey Competency Analysis download here (pdf 33kb).

Read and download the McQuaig Mental Agility Test® (formerly McQuaig Occupational Test®) Full Technical Manual.

Download the overview here of associations and reviews in the UK (pdf 108kb).

More information

What are ‘psychometrics’?

This could get long and complicated! Put simply, psychometrics are a set of techniques used to ensure, among other things, that:

  • You are actually testing what you think you are testing. A written test of mathematics should be testing maths, not writing for instance.
  • Your test gives the same results if it’s given to the same person twice or administered by different people
  • It’s fair to everyone
  • You know how accurate the measure is and how far you can depend on it. No measure – whether of your height or your profit is 100% accurate (just ask an accountant about the latter). Sometimes this can be significant.

Psychometrics allow you to weigh up the accuracy of your decision.

Ipsative vs Normative?


Read relevant LinkedIn groups or a basic book on people at work and you will come across the term ipsative, often compared with normative. These two approaches seem as incompatible as capitalism and communism. And their respective ‘fans’ don’t seem to like each other much either.

Ipsative and normative describe what you’re measuring and how. They’re simply different sorts of human tape measure. Normative tests compare an individual’s performance with other people.

If Joe takes the normative ‘Acme Test of Accountancy Skills’ the results might say he scored better than 50% of a comparison group whether that’s successful accountants or Premier League football players. Therefore, his result will be different (and more or less useful) depending on whom you compare him with.

Ipsative tests compare Joe with himself. The test forces him to choose what he prefers or does better out of the alternatives offered. So an ipsative test of accountancy skills might ask Joe if he preferred finding ways of avoiding tax or presenting accurate accounts. You could also compare Joe’s preferences or strengths now with those two years ago. We use ipsative assessment in real life all the time. For instance, a menu is an ipsative test: Which starter do you prefer?

Normative tests compare us with other people: ipsative tests compare us with ourselves. These two approaches allow you to do different things.

Where does McQuaig fit in all this?

The McQuaig Job Survey® allows stakeholders to define what sort of behavioural profile they need for a job while The McQuaig Word Survey® is an ipsative assessment of behaviour and temperament that you can compare with that The McQuaig Job Survey® definition. This combination is suitable for both recruitment and development.

History of Psychometrics

Testing for proficiency dates back to 2200 BC China, when the Emperor would make use of gruelling fitness assessments for his prospective warriors.

Modern psychometrics have their roots with Charles Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, who lived from 1822 to 1911. Individual’s differences fascinated him. It was Sir Francis who showed that objective testing could provide meaningful scores.

Another pioneer was James Cattell, who first coined the term ‘mental test’ in 1890. Fifteen years later, Alfred Binet introduced the first modern intelligence test.

Psychometric testing rose in popularity throughout the twentieth century. Today a psychometric test is best described as a ‘standardised assessment’. It looks at human behaviour and describes it with scores or categories.

There are some tests that assess intelligence, and others which test capability or personality traits. Psychometric testing also assesses cognitive, sensory, perceptual or motor functions.

These days, many employers make extensive use of these assessments, especially online psychometric tests, and especially when recruiting graduates in whom they will be making a substantial investment.

Through the work of Canadian psychologist Jack H McQuaig, The McQuaig Institute has constantly developed McQuaig for over 40 years. It is one of the most established and researched psychometric tools available for business.