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Personality tests are instruments used to assess aspects of someone’s character and psychology. According to the United States National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website they have been in existence since the 1917, and were first developed to aid in employee selection.

Some degree of bias is often inherent as graduate degree personality test often involve self-reporting; however, many people find them to be a useful guide for everything from career and relationship counseling to self-discovery.

Those in the process of making important choices around higher education and vocation may also benefit from the knowledge imparted by these assessments.  This article provides an overview of several of the more common personality tests.

If you decide to explore these tests further, it’s important to remember personality tests aren’t designed to tell you which career path to take, or what your flaws are. Instead, they help you understand your natural strengths and how you relate to the world around you, which you can then apply to your educational and vocational choices.


Personality Tests

According to the Meyers-Briggs Foundation Website the MBTI applies C.J. Jung’s theory of personality types to a questionnaire used to determine how the test-taker perceives the world.

Jung believed humans experience the world through four basic functions: sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking. The inventory assesses which of these functions are dominant for the test-taker.

The MBTI assesses the test-taker’s proclivities in three areas:

Attitudes: Test-takers are determined to be extroverts (drawing energy from action) or introverts (drawing energy from reflection and time alone).

Functions: The perceiving functions are sensing (prefer tangible, concrete information) and intuition (prefer abstract information). The judging functions are thinking (prefer to make decisions based on logic) and feeling (prefer to make decisions based on emotion).  For each pair, test-takers have one that is more dominant; among the four functions there is also one function assessed to be the most dominant of all.

Lifestyle: The MBTI also determines whether the test-taker tends overall to be more judging (logical) or perceiving (empathic).


The Enneagram Institutes Web page explains this personality test helps the test-taker identify their primary personality type from nine basic personality types.

The Enneagram itself is a circular design around which the numbers are arranged. Each personality type is connected to certain other types through various groupings; these groupings are also diagrammed on the Enneagram. The “centers” are groupings sharing common emotional themes.

For example, the personality types in the “instinctive” center tend to revert to rage; those in the “thinking” center default to anxiety; and those in the “feeling” center often feel shame. The personality types located on either side of one’s dominant personality type on the Enneagram can help distinguish complementary personality traits.


According to StrenghtsQuest, the StrengthsFinder personality test was developed by Dr. Donald Clifton, considered the “father” of positive psychology. It measures the presence of 34 talent themes, defined as “naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied”.

The assessment identifies the test-taker’s top five themes to help them better understand how they tend to instinctively accomplish tasks and relate to the world around them.  

Ideally, test-takers who have identified their talents will also be able to use this knowledge to identify a career path best suited to their particular talents.


The WOWI helps the test taker identify their interests and talents as they relate to available occupations.  It identifies occupations that may interest the test taker by considering self-reported educational and career preferences, preferred job duties, abilities in various disciplines, and preferred environmental factors in the workplace.

A personality test can help you make decisions about your graduate school investment by providing objective analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, and personal preferences to help you identify programs that may bring you career satisfaction.

SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire

Ever wondered what your personality says about your career potential? The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) is an assessment that explores how a person’s traits and behaviors might influence their work aptitude and performance on the job. Launched in 1984 by SHL, the OPQ has long been used as a tool to help employers make talent decisions and help teams succeed.

During the assessment, test-takers are evaluated based on three domains: feelings and emotions, thinking style, and relationships with people. The OPQ not only analyzes the test-taker’s personality but also helps them understand how they fit into their team. The results may yield insights into the test-taker’s suitability for their role and how they are likely to perform in the future.

HEXACO Personality Inventory – Revised

The HEXACO Personality Inventory measures the six major dimensions of personality:

  • Honesty-Humility
  • Emotionality
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Openness to Experience

Within these dimensions, the test measures traits such as fairness, modesty, perfectionism, anxiety, and creativity. So, test-takers could gain a thorough snapshot of their personality, how they compare to others, and why they might act the way they do. While the HEXACO Personality Inventory was developed by researchers over two decades ago, it has since been revised and continues to be a popular tool.

DISC Personality Test

DiSC is a personal assessment tool that helps people discover their personality type and use that knowledge to understand their behaviors and relationships with others. The DiSC model includes four main personality profiles:

  • (D)ominance
  • (i)nfluence
  • (S)teadiness
  • (C)onscientiousness

After taking a short and simple assessment, test-takers find out which personality type they fit into and how their personality may impact their life, work, and interactions. For example, individuals with a D personality might be more confident and focused on results, while someone with an i personality might be more sociable and place greater emphasis on relationships. Because it’s designed to help both individuals and teams get insights into how to communicate and collaborate, DiSC may be a popular personality assessment for use in the workplace.

Revised NEO Personality Inventory

The Revised NEO Personality Inventory or NEO PI-R is a detailed personality assessment that can be useful in a variety of situations—from clinical settings to occupational evaluations. The assessment features 240 questions and tests the five personality traits used in the five-factor model:

  • Openness to experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

Designed to assess young adults through elderly adults, the NEO PI-R can be used for personality profiling by anyone from individuals to psychologists to employers.

What are different types of personality tests used for?

Personality tests may be designed for specific purposes, such as to evaluate an individual’s workplace behaviors and career potential. For example, the World of Work Inventory could help people understand what kind of job they might like to pursue, while the SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire measures how personality traits and behavior impact role fit and performance. Such tests might be useful if you are trying to figure out what you’d like to study in graduate school or whether a career change might make sense.

Other tests offer a general overview of your personality and may not be intended for any one particular use. The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, HEXACO Personality Inventory, and Revised NEO Personality Inventory are all examples of assessments that analyze various dimensions of personality. Taking one or more of these tests could help you better understand your behaviors, preferences, and how you relate to others.

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What’s the best personality test?

While experts don’t always agree on the best personality assessment, it is generally important to choose a scientifically validated test. This means the test has been rigorously designed, developed, and reviewed by scientists. When assessments are backed by years of research, they may be more likely to yield accurate and useful results.

In addition, many of the most widely used and trusted personality tests analyze “the Big 5” personality traits. For example, both the HEXACO Personality Inventory and Revised NEO Personality Inventory are designed to measure these five key dimensions of personality.

Ultimately, the best personality test for you depends on your goals and reasons for taking the test. If you are taking a personality test just for fun, accuracy might not matter as much to you. If you are interested in actionable information about your behaviors, motivations, interaction styles, and more, it may be worthwhile to pursue a more in-depth assessment.

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What are the pros and cons of personality tests?

Personality tests could help you gain better self-awareness, understand how you relate to others and the world around you, and even find the career that’s perfect for you.

However, these assessments are not without flaws. One disadvantage is that personality tests relying on existing self-knowledge aren’t always accurate. Although there are typically no right and wrong answers in a personality assessment, it’s common to perceive some answers as more desirable than others. So, test-takers may not be entirely honest—even if they aren’t intentionally lying. Assessments can also have cultural biases and other flaws that may impact their usefulness.

At the end of the day, a single personality test is not likely to provide the whole picture of who you are as a person. Still, such tests can be useful tools—especially as you seek to understand what academic and career paths you may be suited for.


A personality test can help you make decisions about your graduate school investment by providing an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, and personal preferences to help you identify programs that may bring you career satisfaction.

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