Frequently Asked Questions

What is AIMS?

Aptitude Inventory Measurement Service (AIMS) is a non-profit testing and scientific research facility located in Dallas, Texas. Since 1976, AIMS has been providing valuable information to high school and college students. Many adults interested in career alteration or graduate school also have taken advantage of the assistance the test results can provide. Founders John Gaston, Irvin Shambaugh, and Brenda Smith relied on their years of experience in aptitude research to start the organization. The idea behind the service was to use the information from testing for research and to present the individual findings to the person taking the tests so that he or she may use that knowledge in making college and career decisions. Both the original Director and the Chief Scientist at AIMS have been with the organization since its creation and continue to be active in testing, conducting research, giving conferences, or serving on the Board of Trustees. The AIMS staff administers a battery of tests to help individuals determine their natural strengths. The AIMS program provides clients with a tailored report and summary based on their scientifically measured abilities. Test administrators interpret the results of each examinee’s efforts in order to provide career and college suggestions based on the combination of the individual’s aptitudes and characteristics. Armed with this additional self-knowledge, examinees should be able to greatly increase their chances of success in life.

How Does the Testing Work?

“Worksamples,” the term used for the AIMS tests, is a more appropriate name for the activities the client is asked to complete. The worksamples range from measuring how easily a person works with small tools (one of the essential abilities of a surgeon) to how quickly a person can draw conclusions from bits of information (an essential ability for an investigator or lawyer). Most of the worksamples are brief, but the testing series is extremely thorough. The entire group of worksamples may take up to ten hours to complete, but the results are invaluable to those searching for some direction in making decisions regarding their future. A total of three sessions must be scheduled to complete the AIMS program. The first and second periods last around four hours each and are administered via headphones, computer monitors, and pencil-and-paper activities. The final session, lasting three to four hours, is comprised of an individual testing period with an administrator, followed by a discussion of the results and recommendations. Testing sessions can be taken in either morning or afternoon blocks on the dates convenient for the examinee. For example, you may schedule the first two appointments on the same day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The next day, you could complete the third session beginning in the morning or afternoon. Appointment spaces fill quickly during school holidays; call at least a month in advance to schedule these dates.

What Are Aptitudes?

Having an aptitude means that an individual is able to perform a task or activity faster and/or more accurately than most other individuals. AIMS provides information about the client’s specific aptitude pattern (combination of scores) and how it relates to careers the client may be interested in pursuing. Many parents encourage their children to complete the testing before the senior year of high school to promote the planning involved with higher education. AIMS administrators also may consider aptitudes and a student’s current knowledge level in order to make suggestions regarding the colleges and majors that would be most appropriate for the individual. In the working world, adults need to use their natural abilities in their careers to avoid dissatisfaction or frustration. Aptitudes can be considered pre-talents, abilities waiting to be used. If aptitudes are not honed and utilized, a person may feel that something is missing, or that he or she is in the wrong field. On the other hand, careers that demand aptitudes that an individual lacks may lead to frustration. If this is the case, a person may find that the requirements of a position take much longer for him or her to complete than for others who possess the natural abilities used in that job.

Who Uses AIMS?

The majority of clients who use AIMS are high school or college students who are serious about education and career planning. Some clients may be unable to find a starting point or may want to confirm that their decisions match their abilities. Many adults benefit from the AIMS testing, as well. A number of people dissatisfied with their careers look to the information AIMS provides to help in finding a new career path or in finding a position within their current career that might be more rewarding. Empty-nesters have used the AIMS program to look at options that might not have been possible earlier in their lives. Occasionally, retired people visit AIMS to find new hobbies or business adventures that provide an outlet for their talents. AIMS clients are individuals who want to learn more about themselves in order to use their talents to their advantage and live a more fulfilling life. Please review the articles on our website about testing after college and after age 35 to determine if this is the right program for you. Aptitudes seem to behave as physical traits. The test scores stabilize during puberty; consequently, we suggest that youngsters be well into puberty before taking our tests. Unless approved by a staff member the minimum ages are 15 for girls and 16 for boys. Students who are taking the AIMS testing program need to be college-bound. Individuals who are interested in careers that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree are most likely to benefit from the AIMS program.

How can I Test if I'm not in the Dallas Area?

AIMS is a nonprofit, tax-exempt foundation based in Dallas, Texas. While 90% of our clients come to our home office to participate in the program, we do provide our services in temporary testing locations in other places several times a year.

If a trip to Dallas is not practical for someone who might want to be tested, they should call our staff or consult our website to see if there is a more convenient alternative.

Since AIMS was founded in 1976, it has had a policy to go anywhere if at least 10 people agree to take part. Over 250 trips have been completed thus far. We have been to cities with more than a million residents and unincorporated villages with populations under 200. Many have been within the state of Texas, but others have been as far away as the Atlantic Coast or close to Canada.

If there is not a testing trip scheduled for your area, our trip coordinators would be happy to work with you on making one happen.

Is Testing a Good Idea for Everyone?

Becoming familiar with one’s natural abilities is a very helpful method in planning a successful future. It can also be a heartening confirmation of an individual’s goals. Unfortunately, some situations can interfere with the testing process. Students with learning disabilities and certain conditions may require additional time to work through the testing process. Individuals with conditions such as learning disabilities, anxiety, or depression are usually advised to divide the first and second testing sessions into two days to increase the likelihood of obtaining the most accurate results. Occasionally, we are unable to recognize aptitudes in individuals with learning differences. Because our method of measuring aptitudes is timed, it could be difficult for people who need additional processing time to receive helpful results. This does not mean a person does not possess an aptitude, but we might not be able to measure it through our methods.

Adults over the age of 30 also should divide the first and second testing sessions into two different days. By this age, many people have become distanced from the test-taking process. AIMS encourages testing for many of these interested individuals but does not want time or a lack of student skills to be discriminating factors.

There are a few other situations that may produce inaccurate results. Certain medications that affect the central nervous system may slow response time. Individuals who have, or are recovering from, problems with drug or alcohol abuse are often found to have inaccurate results. Clients who are not motivated to take the tests also are unlikely to receive helpful information. Parents should not force students to participate if they are unmotivated to do so. Accurate results rely on the best efforts of the examinee.

Clients must report any physical or psychological disabilities, learning differences, medications, or drug or alcohol abuse to AIMS before testing to ensure results will not be affected by these situations. If you are uncertain about a condition or medication affecting the test results, please call and ask an administrator.

How do I Schedule an Appointment?

The testing program consists of three sessions. The first and second sessions each include four hours of testing, administered through headphones and a computer monitor by the AIMS administrative staff. The final session includes a brief period of testing, administered by a senior staff member, immediately followed by a discussion of the results and recommendations. The testing is available Monday through Friday, year round. You will need to determine the days that work with your schedule before calling to make an appointment. We are flexible with the dates you choose for completing the program; you can begin in the morning or afternoon for each of your three sessions. Your appointments need not be on consecutive days, but you may schedule two appointments on the same day.

If you have any kind of learning disability, test anxiety, or if you are taking certain medications that affect the central nervous system, you should schedule the first and second sessions on two different days. If none of the above applies to you, you may schedule your appointments in any way you like. Please be honest about any of these conditions with the staff scheduling your appointment. Otherwise, we may not obtain accurate results.

To make an appointment, go to the testing information page. Complete the entire registration form and interest inventory and submit both of them. Please call the office on the next business day to schedule your appointment dates and times to allow our system to update. Once you make the appointment, you will be sent a packet of information that includes a schedule of your appointments, map to the office, and hotel listings. After the appointment is made, you will need to submit a $200 deposit, either on PayPal or by check mailed to the office. The remaining balance is due at the first appointment or you can pay in full on the PayPal site. You will need to call the AIMS office if you are unable to keep any of the scheduled appointments. If sending a check, include the participant’s full name on the check.

What Should I Expect?

During the first and second testing periods, you will use headphones and computer monitors to complete pencil and paper activities and apparatus-types of tests. You will receive short breaks for snacks, using the restroom, using your telephone, etc. If you are testing all day, you will receive a one-hour lunch break. There are a few restaurants and other food options within a few blocks of the office building. Currently, there is a deli on the first floor of the building. During the third testing period, an administrator will conduct one-on-one testing and present the analysis of your test results. The third session lasts between three and four hours. During the conference (analysis) portion, at least one parent, guardian, or sponsor is required to be present with examinees under the age of 25. Exceptions are made for clients who apply for the services independently. Clients will receive: a personalized report of the conclusions and suggestions, a bargraph of test results, an audio recording of the conference, a PowerPoint discussion of scores, and a digital copy of the AIMS Handbook. Supplemental materials will be provided as needed.

How Do I Prepare for Testing?

Unlike many other kinds of tests, it is not necessary to study or try to research any information to prepare for AIMS aptitude testing. AIMS measures natural abilities; therefore, it is impossible to “train” for the worksamples. However, it is extremely important to be well-rested before the appointments. Be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep the night before your testing days. It is also important to eat a normal breakfast or lunch before testing so that hunger does not interfere with performance.

What is the Fee for Testing Services?

The fee for testing, analysis, and recommendations is $825. AIMS accepts credit cards, personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, and cash. AIMS accepts payment via PayPal in advance. A $200 deposit is required with the registration. The remaining balance can be paid in advance or at the testing center before the first testing session.