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Army General Classification Test

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The Army General Classification Test (AGCT) has a long history that runs parallel with research and means for attempting the assessment of intelligence or other abilities.[1]

World War I and World War II created the need for this type of testing and provided a large body of test subjects. The early emphasis (World War I) was on determining the level of literacy (Alpha test) among a heterogeneous group. Illiterates were given another test (Army Beta); some enrollees were interviewed. Subsequent testing targeted aptitude in order to better fill roles, such as those provided by officers who obtained commissions from other than the United States military academies, or to meet the need for increasingly complicated skills that came along with technological progress, especially after World War II.[2]

As with other measurement attempts, the AGCT ran into controversy during the era of the Vietnam War.[clarification needed][3][4] Yet, the requirement did not abate, leading to improvements in the application and use of the standard testing methodology.

The modern variant of this test is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) that was first administered in 1960.[5]

Many high IQ societies, such as Mensa and Intertel, can map their entrance requirements to early AGCT scores.[6][7] The AGCT was of interest to researchers because of the breadth of the test taker sample (1.75 million men took the original test).

The Army Alpha and Beta Intelligence Tests[edit]

The first intelligence tests were created during World War I to screen the thousands of soldiers being recruited by the United States military.[8]

Robert Yerkes and a committee of six representatives developed two intelligence tests; the Army Alpha test and the Army Beta test to help the United States military screen incoming soldiers for "intellectual deficiencies, psychopathic tendencies, nervous intangibility, and inadequate self-control".[9] The Alpha test was a verbal test for literate recruits and was divided into eight test categories, which included: following oral directions, arithmetical problems, practical judgments, synonyms and antonyms, disarranged sentences, number series completion, analogies and information,[10] whereas the Beta test was a nonverbal test used for testing illiterate or non-English speaking recruits. The Beta test did not require those being tested to use written language, but rather the examinees completed tasks by using visual aids.[11] The Beta Intelligence test was divided into seven subtests, which included: "Test 1- assessed the ability of army recruits to trace the path of a maze; Test 2- assessed the ability of cube analysis; Test 3-assessed the ability of pattern analysis using an X-O series; Test 4- assessed the ability of coding digits with symbols; Test 5- assessed the ability of number checking; Test 6-assessed the ability of pictorial completion; and Test 7- assessed the ability of geometrical construction".

Overall, the Army Alpha and the Army Beta tests were designed to find the mental age of military recruits and to assess incoming recruits for success in the US Military by testing one's ability to understand language, to perform reasoning with semantic and quantitative relationships, to make practical judgments, to infer rules and regulations, and to recall general information.[12] The Army Alpha and the Army Beta tests have been criticized for being biased and for not predicting the actual success of incoming soldiers.[9]



  1. ^ Paul F. Ballantyne, Psychology, Society, and Ability Testing (1859-2002): Transformative alternatives to Mental Darwinism and Interactionism "Chapter 4, Rise of Group Ability Testing ... (1918–1932)'
  2. ^ Paul F. Ballantyne, Psychology, Society, and Ability Testing (1859-2002): Transformative alternatives to Mental Darwinism and Interactionism "Chapter 5, From Training Programs to World War II Testing ... (1933–1946)"
  3. ^ Morris J. MacGregor, Jr. Integration of the Armed Forces 1940–1965. United States Army Center of Military History.
  4. ^ Paul F. Ballantyne, Psychology, Society, and Ability Testing (1859-2002): Transformative alternatives to Mental Darwinism and Interactionism "Chapter 7, Questioning the Ideology of Testing ... (1964–1981)"
  5. ^ USMEPCOM Your Future Begins Now, Testing Archived March 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ American MENSA Qualifying Test Scores Archived August 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Intertel - Join us". www.intertel-iq.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  8. ^ "A Brief History of the SAT". Frontline. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Carson, John (June 1993). "Alpha Army, Army Brass, and the Search for Army Intelligence". Isis. 84 (2): 278–309. doi:10.1086/356463. S2CID 143928356.
  10. ^ Gould, S. J. "A nation of morons". Mark Holah. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Ernest R Hilgard, Ernest R (1965). "Robert M. Yerkes Biography". National Academy of Sciences: 1–43.
  12. ^ "Pioneers in Standardized Testing". Issues in Science and Technology. 19 (9): 1–5. 2002.

Further reading[edit]