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Psychology: Evaluating a Psychological Test

Evaluate a Test's Validity & Reliability

Another important step is to ensure your identified test is a valid and reliable instrument for your intended purposes.  There are several sources you can review to find this kind of test information.

Using PsycInfo to Evaluate a Test

In the PsycInfo database:

1. Search the name of the test, ex: PTSD Checklist Civilian Version.  The test name will likely not appear as a recognized subject heading. If not, scroll down to the bottom of the resulting list, where you can search the term as a Keyword (the test name will appear in the title, abstract, or other identifier fields, including the Tests & Measures field).

2. Then search these subject headings

  • Test Validity
  • Test Reliability

3. Finally, combine your searches: Topic and (Validity or Reliability).  Your search may look something like this:

Using MMY-TIP to Evaluate a Test

MMY-TIP = Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print

  1. First check if the test is indexed in the MMY using this website.
  2. If yes, access the MMY-TIP and search by test name.

About the MMY-TIP:

  • Reviews mostly commercial tests and is heavily weighted to well-known tests in the behavioral sciences. Therefore, if your test is non-commercial, not well known, or not in the behavioral sciences, it is likely not indexed in the MMY-TIP.
  • Entries include publisher and ordering info, purpose, price, population, reliability reviews, validity reviews, norming data, scoring and reporting services, etc.
  • Actual tests are not included in the MMY-TIP (it is a test information database)

"Using a MMY Review to Evaluate a Test" provides information on how the MMY-TIP can help you make judgments about the quality of the test as well as discusses how reviews are organized and how to use each part of the review to judge the usefulness of the test to you. 

Using PsycTests to Evaluate a Test

The APA PsycTests database contains test information for mostly non-commercial tests. About half the tests indexed in PsycTests include the full-text of the test.
To search:
  1. In PsycTests, change the search from Advanced to Basic.
  2. Enter the name of the test (or test authors), e.g. “Seasonal Beliefs Questionnaire”
  3. Review the references and click on the test name to see the complete test record.  The test record will include information on the test's reliability and validity.
  4. To see if the actual test is available, look for the Ovid Database PDFs to the right of the test reference.

Evaluation Criteria

This site provides an overview of Questions to Ask When Evaluating Tests.

Summary Video