Testing Process

What Are Natural Abilities?
The definition of Ability is the quality of being able, being suitable or being receptive to do something.
The definition of Natural Ability is ability that you are born with.
Other words commonly used to describe natural abilities are Aptitude, Talents, and Gifts.

Whether you call them abilities, talents, gifts, innate qualities or aptitudes, by measuring and defining your special abilities, you will learn what you can do best and how to apply them in your career, education, and leadership roles.

We don’t know if abilities come from nature / genetics, or from nurture/ your environment, but we do know that by the time a person is 14 years old these abilities can be tested. Barring something catastrophic happening, these abilities will remain constant throughout your life. So what is true for you today will be true for you in 10 or 20 years.

Abilities are not influenced by education or experiences, where skills on the other hand are learned. A 14 year old could have the natural abilities to be a fine surgeon; however he will not be able to perform surgery until he has learned the skills necessary to be a surgeon. Skills therefore are anything a person learns through school, work, training, seminars and life.

Everyone is born with a unique set of natural abilities. If these are identified and encouraged, the individual achieves maximum satisfaction and productivity. The Highlands Ability Battery was designed to tell you what your abilities are.

What Is The Highlands Ability Battery?

The Highlands Ability Battery was developed from the work of Johnson O’Conner; a Harvard graduate; and research scientist in the early 1900’s. In 1922, Mr. O’Conner was asked by General Electric to set up a human engineering program to find the right position for each employee. Mr. O’Conner developed a collection of “worksamples” to test in-born abilities and then related them to various work functions. The results of increased productivity and job satisfaction were significant, which led Mr. O’Conner to dedicate his life to studying natural abilities.


In 1930, O’Conner set up the “Human Engineering Laboratory” which later became the Johnson O’Connor Research Center. Hundreds of thousands of people have been tested in the eleven non-profit testing centers across the United States since 1930 and the process has been refined and improved over the 80+ years of research. In 1992 the Highlands Company acquired the rights from Johnson O’Conner Research to convert their pencil and paper tests into a computerized version, which would allow people to have the benefit of natural ability testing without physically having to visit one of the eleven testing centers.

This was the creation of the Highlands Ability Battery. Now people on four continents have access to this incredible natural abilities testing tool, professionally administered through specially trained Highlands Counsellors, like Natural Ability.

The Highlands Ability Battery measures your natural abilities in a unique way. It asks you to perform objective worksamples. Each worksample measures one ability and one ability only. The Highlands Ability Battery is a comprehensive assessment tool containing nineteen unique hands-on and timed worksamples. The test takes 3 hours and can be completed on your own computer or in one of the testing centres.

The Highlands Ability Battery™ requires the individual to perform nineteen different tasks or worksamples, each measuring a different ability. The worksamples are timed. This enables us to measure the relative ease with which the individual performs each task.

What Does The Test Measure?

The Highlands Ability Battery™ divides abilities into three major ability categories – Personal Style; Driving Abilities; and Specialized Abilities.


Personal Style:

The worksamples measuring Personal Style tell us how individuals approach the people and the environment around them.

Some people are uncomfortable if they are made to move with the crowd. They offer unique solutions to problems and like making their own contributions. Other people like to work in groups or teams. These people usually enjoy moving from assignment to assignment.


Driving Abilities:

The Driving Abilities influence academic and occupational preferences, and are important in career guidance and career planning. One worksample measures the ability to solve problems in a non-logical manner, i.e., the ability to take seemingly unrelated facts and bring them together into a cohesive conclusion.

Another worksample measures the ability to solve a problem logically by putting a series of related words or ideas in their linear order. This is an important element in any career aptitude test. This ability is common to writers and journalists.

A third worksample measures the rate at which an individual creates new ideas in response to a new challenge – the quantity of ideas produced over a given period, not their quality.

Two other worksamples measure the ability to visualize and manipulate in three dimensions objects presented in two dimensions. The results indicate whether the individual will be more comfortable working with abstractions and ideas or with tangible objects.

Specialized Abilities:

The specialized abilities enhance and complement the other abilities. The worksamples measuring these abilities function as career interest tests and help in career guidance and in determining the choice of careers and hobbies. They are divided into visual abilities, musical abilities and abilities supporting five key learning channels.


Visual abilities. We measure the ability to remember and use graphic information, and to observe small changes and details. We also measure visual dexterity – the ability to read and interpret symbols. This ability is useful in any field involving numbers and large quantities of data.

Musical Abilities. We measure tonal memory, rhythm memory and pitch discrimination. These indicate the ability to remember and reproduce musical sounds. They are significant in a wide variety of fields ranging from music to art, language, design, communications,science, and technology.

Learning Channels. The five learning channels are the means by which you take in information. These have application in both academic and every-day learning. They are important in assessing career aptitudes and in career development and career building. We measure your relative strength in the learning channels: reading; listening; hands-on applications and physical movement; use of graphics; and retention of non-associated facts such as numbers and raw data. These measures can assist students to learn more effectively. They can also help adults determine the best ways to ask for and exchange information with their colleagues.

Time Frame and Vocabulary are also tested on the Highlands Ability Battery™. Time Frame measures whether the individual tends to think and plan in the short term or in the long term. The worksample in Vocabulary tests the level of the individual’s general vocabulary when measured against the vocabulary of the average college student, with adjustments for age. The development of a strong vocabulary can be a vital factor in career building.

How Is This Test Different From Other Tests Which Claim To Help In Work And Career Planning?

Most career planning or personality tests are reflective, meaning they ask you a question, which after your personal reflection, you answer. The validity of this type of test can be flawed, because our answers may differ based on how we are feeling on the day, or what stage we are in our life at that particular time. If we are feeling happy and confident we may feel good about being out in social settings, and our answers will paint a picture of an outgoing extrovert who should be in sales and promotion, however the next week we may be sad and lacking confidence, and the last place we want to be is out in public, so our scores may indicate we are introverts, who should be in an isolated lab doing research.


The key difference between the Highlands Ability Battery™ and other popular assessment tools – Myers Briggs (MBTI), Strong, True Colors, DiSC – is that the Battery depends on hands-on performance of objective tasks that measure natural abilities while the other tools are tests of personality or depend on self-report and/or group response. The other tests may offer insights into personality types, but the Highlands Ability Battery™ measures natural abilities. Your ability to do the same task is most likely to be the same when you are 20, 30 and 40.

This difference is crucial to students faced with university choices and selection of university majors and university curriculum; to adults involved in career changes and career transition; and to companies designing programs in team building, leadership identification, or leadership development.

When people are able to measure and react to these differences, they prefer the Highlands Ability Battery™ to the other tests as a measure of their abilities.

Click here to see the Colorado State University comparative survey results of the 4 most popular career planning testing tools.

What Kind Of Report And Interpretation Do I Get?

At the completion of taking the test you will be able to download a personalized 45 to 55 page report which will explain in very deep detail your natural abilities, what they mean, how to apply them in work, study, problem solving and communication, as well as offer an extensive list of job task which have strong as well as weak matches to your individual abilities.


View Sample Report

The key to really understanding what all of this information really means and how to practically apply it to your life is in the 2 hour feedback session with the Natural Abilities Specialist counsellor.

Your abilities are like a fingerprint, unique to you, and rarely do two people have an identical ability profile.

Your counsellor will clearly interpret what each of your abilities mean, give clear and practical examples to help you understand them, tell you how you can use your abilities and apply your abilities to your personal situation, and your stage in the life cycle. You can also discuss problems you have had in the past, or share your dreams and goals with your counsellor, who will be able to use your ability profile to shed some light on past problems and illuminate the path of your future. Your counsellor will take you through the Personal Vision Wheel, a process that looks at eight critical factors to consider when planning your future, and ensures that you as a whole person are being considered, and not just a set of numbers. (click here to see the Personal Vision Wheel)

At the completion of taking the test you will be able to download a personalized 25 to 30 page report which will explain in very deep detail your natural abilities, what they mean, how to apply them in work, study, problem solving and communication. You will also receive a personal Career Exploration Report which matches your unique ability profile with your most suitable Work Roles and Occupations across many different industries. This is a live hyper-linked report that provides detailed descriptions of the chosen occupations.  Click here for a sample report

What If I End Up With Low Scores, Does It Mean I Don’t Have Any Abilities?

In testing Natural Abilities, there are no good or bad scores. Having low scores in some abilities can be critical for success in some fields, where high scores in some abilities may be critical for success in another career field. Most people will have some high and some low scores, and some mid-range scores.


A high score in an ability may actually work against you, if you are in a field that requires the complete opposite. A good analogy is, ability scores are like sports scores, where a low score is good in golf, but bad in basketball, and a high score is good in basketball, but not golf. We try to help you find the right sport to match your unique ability profile.

Who Will Benefit From This Process?

Everyone can benefit from this process because it is one of the most insightful and accurate “self awareness” tools available. Couples will understand each other better, parents will understand their children better, managers will understand their employees better, and business owners will understand their managers and leaders better, however the most important benefit of all is you will understand yourself better.


The primary purpose of taking natural ability tests is to find areas in which you have ability. It has been our experience that people will be more satisfied and successful in occupations that challenge their natural abilities and do not demand abilities that they lack. Our natural ability testing program can assist you in discovering the course of study and the type of work that will fit your ability pattern; it will help you to understand why certain courses of study and occupations are likely to be more satisfying or rewarding than others. Our counsellors are trained to extract the information in your report that is most critical for you at the stage in life you are at right now, and to help provide answers and direction to make your future more fulfilling.

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