Psychological tests, like many measurements of human characteristics, can be interpreted in a norm-referenced or criterion-referenced manner. Norms are statistical representations of a population. A norm-referenced score interpretation compares an individual's results on the test with the statistical representation of the population. In practice, rather than testing a population, a representative sample or group is tested. This provides a group norm or set of norms. One representation of norms is the Bell curve (also called "normal curve"). Norms are available for standardized psychological tests, allowing for an understanding of how an individual's scores compare with the group norms. Norm referenced scores are typically reported on the standard score (z) scale or a rescaling of it.
A criterion-referenced interpretation of a test score compares an individual's performance to some criterion other than performance of other individuals. For example, the generic school test typically provides a score in reference to a subject domain; a student might score 80% on a geography test. Criterion-referenced score interpretations are generally more applicable to achievement tests rather than psychological tests.
Often, test scores can be interpreted in both ways; a score of 80% on a geography test could place a student at the 84th percentile, or a standard score of 1.0 or even 2.0.
Read more about this topic: Psychological Tests
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