The Army Beta is the non-verbal complement of the Army Alpha—a group-administered test that was developed by Robert Yerkes and six other committee members to evaluate some 1.5 million military recruits in the United States during World War I. It was used for the purpose of evaluating illiterate, unschooled and foreign speaking army recruits. It has been recognized as an archetype of future cognitive ability tests. The time to administer the test was 50 to 60 minutes and was generally administered to 100–200 men in a group; the test was discontinued after World War I.
The Army Beta is divided into 7 tests. Army recruits are asked to complete each test as quickly as they possibly can. The materials needed for this test are a blackboard frame, blackboard chart and cardboard pieces.
This test assessed the ability of army recruits to trace the path of a maze. In order to administer this, the administrator has a demonstrator trace a maze in front of the recruits slowly with a crayon. While doing so, the demonstrator would at one point purposefully make a mistake and wait until the administrator corrected him. After the administrator did so, the demonstrator would trace the rest of the maze and indicate that it must be done quickly. After this, the administrator would order the army recruits to take the maze test in their books by pointing to the subjects, then the books and telling them to "hurry up". While they are taking the test, the demonstrator would attempt to rush the army recruits and after 2 minutes, tell them to stop.
This test assessed the ability of cube analysis. In order to administer this, the administrator would point to a three-cube model on the blackboard and have the army recruits count how many there were. He would then do the same with a 12-cube model. After demonstrating how the test works, he would then have the army recruits turn the next page in their books and begin. The test had 17 items ascending difficulty: 1) 2-cube model, 2) 4-cube model, 3) 6-cube model, 4) 8-cube model, 5) 12-cube model, 6) 27-cube model, 7) 15-cube model, 8) 15-cube model, 9) 18-cube model, 10) 19-cube model, 11) 40-cube model, 12) 10-cube model, 13) 22-cube model, 14) 13-cube model, 15) 20-cube model, 16) 50-cube model. After 2 minutes and 30 seconds, the test was over and the administrator would tell them to stop.
This test assessed the ability of pattern analysis using an X-O series. In order to administer this, the administrator would first point to the blank rectangles at the end, then draw an O. The demonstrator would then draw the rest of the pattern in. The administrator and the demonstrator would do the same with another pattern using an X. The administrator would then have the army recruits do the same with the problems in their books. After 1 minute and 45 seconds, the test was over and the administrator would tell them to stop.
This test assessed the ability of coding digits with symbols. In order to administer this, the administrator would first point to the first digit of the key on a blackboard then point to the symbol under it. He would then do the same for all nine digits in the key. Afterwards, the demonstrator would fill in all of the appropriate symbols for the digits. The administrator would then have the army recruits do the same with the problems they have in their books. After 2 minutes, the test was over and the administrator would tell them to stop.
This test assessed the ability of number checking. If digits were the same for both groups of numbers, then army recruits were to mark that they were the same with an "X". In order to administer this, the administrator would first need to try and get a "Yes" or "No" response from the group when pointing to the first number of the first group and first number of the second group and asking if they are the same. If army recruits gave the wrong response, the administrator would point to the two numbers again and tell them the right answer. Afterwards, the administrator would have the demonstrator make an imaginary cross in order to communicate with army recruits that this was the way to indicate they are the same. The administrator and demonstrator would do this with three more sets, then the administrator would point to the page and tell the army recruits to begin. After 3 minutes, the test was over and the administrator would tell them to stop.
This test assessed the ability of pictorial completion. Army recruits are present with pictures with something missing and they are supposed to draw it. In order to administer this, the administrator shows the demonstrator a picture of a hand with a missing finger and tells him to "Fix it". At first, the demonstrator does nothing and looks puzzled, then the administrator would point to place where the finger is missing and repeat to the demonstrator "Fix it; fix it". The demonstrator would then draw the missing finger. The administrator and demonstrator would then do the same procedure for a fish that is missing an eye. After which, the administrator points to four more samples and has the demonstrator solve all of them. The administrator would then have the army recruits solve the problems in their books. The test lasts 3 minutes, then the administrator would tell them to stop. Examples of missing items in pictures include a missing mouth on a face, missing eyes on a face, missing nose on a face, missing strings on a violin, missing trigger on a gun and missing net on a tennis court.
This test assessed the ability of geometrical construction. Army recruits would need to make a rectangle out of pieces of cardboard. In order to administer this, the administrator would draw a figured on the blackboard. He would then take two pieces of cardboard and fit them together so it looks like the figure on the blackboard. The administrator would then remove the pieces and signal the demonstrator to draw the solution on the blackboard. The same procedure is done for the second and third samples, then the demonstrator would work through the fourth sample by himself. After the demonstrations are finished, the administrator would tell the army recruits to do the same with the problems they have in their book. After two minutes, the test was over and the administrator would tell them to stop.
The Army Beta yield numerical scores or intelligence scores which for practical military purposes are translated into letter grades. The several letter grades used in the Army, with their score-equivalents and appropriate definitions are presented in the following table.
The Army Beta yield numerical scores or intelligence scores which for practical military purposes are translated into letter grades; the E grade was reserved for men who were recommended for rejection, discharge, development battalion, or service organization. All men deemed satisfactory for regular military duty were graded D- or higher.
The several intelligence letter grades used in the Army, with their score-equivalents and appropriate definitions are presented in this table.
|!Grade||Intelligence||Score (alpha)||Score (beta)||% of total||Description|
|A||Very superior||135-212||100-118||4% to 5%||Men of marked intellectuality. Of high officer type when they are also endowed with leadership and other necessary qualities.|
|B||Superior||105-134||90-99||8% to 10%||Less exceptional than that represented by "A". Many men of the commissioned officer type and a large amount of non-commissioned officer material.|
|C+||High average||75-104||80-89||15% to 18%||A large amount of non-commissioned officer material with occasionally a man whose leadership and power to command fit him for commissioned rank.|
|C||Average||45-74||65-79||About 25%||Excellent private type with a certain amount of fair non-commissioned officer material.|
|C-||Low average||25-44||45-64||About 25%||Below average intelligence, but usually good privates and satisfactory in work of a routine nature.|
|D||Inferior||15-24||20-44||About 15%||Likely to be fair soldiers, usually slow in learning and rarely go above the rank of private.
Short on initiative and so need more than the usual amount of supervision. Many of them are illiterate or foreign.
|D-||Very inferior||0-14||0-19||Very inferior in intelligence but considered fit for regular service|
|E||Very inferior||0-14||0-19||Men whose mental inferiority justifies their recommendation for development battalion, special service organization, rejection, or discharge.|
In the 1920s, Walter Lippman, a columnist, criticized use of the Army Alpha and Army Beta, arguing that they did not actually test intelligence. Lippman also raised the issue of whether intelligence was gained through nature or life experiences.
- "History", Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
- Army Mental Tests. H. Holt and Company. 1920. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- http://books.google.com/books/reader?id=xhECAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PA220, pp.22-23