My Experience With the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Testing

August 9, 2010 — 60 Comments

NOTE: This is one really long article.  However, it is exhaustive and the most informative of anything I have found written online.  So, if you want detailed descriptions of the tests and what they mean and advice as to whether to spend the  $675 for the test, it may be worth your time…


As part of my journey in choosing a new vocation, I decided I would make an investment in an aptitude test in order to make a responsible well considered decision for my future. I chose the test given by the Johnson O’Connor Research group for a few reasons. One, I have a friend who took the test and was pleased with his results. Also, I read the book written by the “laboratory” research and it made a lot of sense. The group has been around and doing testing since the 1940’s so that led me to believe that they must have a good track record with helping people.

The idea that forms the framework and philosophy of this testing is that:

  • Each of us are born with certain aptitudes that remain relatively unchanged in us overtime, i.e., some people are inherently better with numbers than others and always will be.
  • Individuals with unused aptitudes can become unhappy and get a feeling that they are not doing what they were “born” to do.
  • If your natural aptitudes match your interests, you are more likely to be satisfied with the work you are doing.
  • According to their research over the last 60 or so years, your vocabulary is a HUGE determinant in whether you are going to be successful in life.

Aside from the vocabulary aspect noted above, this makes sense as a way of looking at why some people are fulfilled in their work and others aren’t. For example, if you are in a career where you are constantly struggling to maintain the pace that your co-workers are operating at, you will suffer emotionally and mentally. It will feel more like drudgery after a while to you, while they may feel like it is easy enough and they can’t imagine why anyone could possibly struggle. In terms of vocabulary, it later became much clearer to me why one’s mastery of language has such a bearing on success. According to J.O., the following are the apparent reasons:

  • Communicated intelligence is often more important than actual intelligence, because intelligence that can’t be communicated, rarely gets used. It is harder to express yourself and be a leader with a poor grasp of the English language.
  • Perception matters in organizations. If you can’t communicate, it is very difficult for someone to grasp your actual abilities without taking time from their busy schedules to spend significant amounts of time with you to see what you can actually do. It is just a fact of life. Perceived intelligence can often be more important than actual intelligence, because of one’s ability to communicate.

Anyway, I took the tests. I scheduled the process over two days and it took a total of 7 hours. Some tests were very frustrating to me, because I hate NOT being able to do something. One test was re-arranging odd shaped blocks to fit back into a cube. The instructions seemed easy enough, but I was struggling, got flustered, couldn’t focus, felt embarrassed, became angry with myself, etc. The instructor sensed this and she kindly said it is normal to be frustrated, because often aptitudes mirror each other. For example, if someone is great at abstract thinking, they usually aren’t great at structural visualization. When you are testing in an area you have a low aptitude in, you usually get frustrated. This to me is very important, because it means that if you don’t like something in REAL LIFE, you probably shouldn’t do it unless you really need the money.   She also said something very important: Too many aptitudes can be a curse (better than having none at all though – look on the bright side), because very few jobs will be able to accommodate them all, and you will quickly become unsettled / unsatisfied and want to change careers. It is better to have relatively few aptitudes and be very HIGH in those that you do have. That made me feel a bit better and I continued with a better attitude.

At times it was actually fun, depending on the test I was taking. In retrospect, I tended to score higher in the tests that I enjoyed. In essence, that is what the process is about anyway.


Let’s delve into the categories of aptitudes the test covers, the actual aptitudes, and how they are tested:

Note: In my opinion, knowing know how the tests work or not will have relatively little effect on your test scores. You can’t really study for these tests.

Visual Perception
o Graphoria – The ability to do clerical work / office work. Accountants and book keepers are often high in this aptitude and it is tested by seeing how fast you can compare two columns of numbers and determine with each row of numbers is exactly the same. You are tested on speed and accuracy.
-5555 55555
-6969 6869 (this row is wrong)

Divergent Thinking
o Ideaphoria – The ability to produce a rapid stream of thoughts. This is tested by giving a person a sentence / question such as, “How would your day be different tomorrow if the world ran out of water?” You are to write down as many ideas you have about this as rapidly as you can in a given amount of time. People who score high in this may go into advertising, for example
o Foresight – This indicates how much you focus on the present versus how much you think about the future. It is an aptitude for seeing possibilities and is tested by showing you an abstract picture and having you write down as many things that it reminds you of as rapidly as possible in a short period of time. The more you can write down, the more future oriented you are and vice versa.

Convergent Thinking
o Inductive Reasoning – This test measures the ability to see quickly a common element among heterogeneous ideas, observations, or facts. Basically, you are shown five or six random pictures, with three of them having something round in them, like a ball, the sun, etc. You have to be able to quickly point out three pictures with similarities. This is scored on speed. Doctors high in this aptitude can readily diagnosis symptoms correctly.
o Analytical Reasoning – This tests an ability to organize concepts, to arrange ideas in a logical sequence or classification. Basically, you are given shapes with information on them and told to arrange them correctly. This would be useful for instance, if you wanted to be a software engineer.

o Number Series –This is tested by giving someone several pages of numbers that are patterns. You have to recognize the pattern and fill in what the next number would be. For example:
-2, 4, 6, 8, 10 ________ (the next answer is 12, each number goes up +2)
o Number Facility – This is the ability to perform arithmetic quickly. It is a simple multiplication test involving circles with numbers on them that you have to arrange to come to the correct answer.

o Structural Visualization –, I can’t remember this one.
o Wiggly Block – This test measures the ability to put together wiggly shapes back into the form of a cube. It tests your mechanical ability.
o Paper Folding – This test measures your ability to think in three dimensions. You are basically given an illustration where a piece of paper is folded every which and a hole is punched through it. You then have to unfold it in your mind and document where all the holes would be once the paper is unfolded.

o Tonal Memory – This tests your ability to remember tones. For example, some people can hear a song once and remember it forever.
o Pitch Discrimination – This is a test where you hear sounds and have to say which sounds were higher or lower.
o Rhythm Memory – This is a test where you are given two rhythm sequences and have to tell whether they differ or are the same and if they differ, which beat caused the difference.

o Memory for Design – During this test, you are shown a design on a screen for a certain period of time. The screen goes away and you are left with a piece of paper with just the dots. You have to draw the lines from memory and correctly connect the dots. Architects may score well in this as well as in structural visualization.
o Silograms – This is a test that measures your ability to learn words or languages. You are given a series of “marshian” made up words and corresponding English words. They are then taken away and you are given a sheet of paper with the marshian words. You have to fill in the corresponding English words. You have to do this three times with the exact same pairs of words to see how quickly you can learn.
o Number Memory – This tests your ability to remember numbers. You are rapidly given 6 digit numbers and are tested to see how many you can remember. The same numbers are given three times and each time you have to write as many down as possible. The more you get right each time, the higher you score.
o Observation – You are given 30 seconds to memorize a bunch of random drawings of items on a page. You are then told to flip the page and alert the instructor as to what is different. Each page, something changes. This tests ability to observe. A home inspector would use this in his or her career.

Color Vision
o Red-Green Vision – This tests whether you are color blind
o Color Discrimination – This tests whether you can see small variations in colors. You are given 30 or so beads each slightly varying in color and ask to order them from darkest to lightest.

o Finger Dexterity – This tests your ability to work quickly and accurately on small things with your fingers. You are told to pick up pins as quickly as possible and complete a task with them. This is required to be a good factory worker, for instance, in an electronics assembly line.
o Tweezer Dexterity – This tests your ability to work with small tools. You are given tweezers and told to use them to pick up pins and perform a task as quickly as possible. This aptitude is important for dentists and surgeons.

Personality – You are given a series of words and told to say the first word that comes into your mind. People who are objective answer in a certain way, i.e., they may tend to just say the opposite of the word they heard, while people who are subjective think of something much more creative. Objective people tend to work in groups or with people. Subjective people tend to value autonomy. They are more individualistic. You score on a scale with this test, with some people being somewhat in the middle. If you are in the middle, you should probably consider careers for more subjective people.

English Vocabulary – You are tested at the beginning of the session to determine your level. Then, you are given a second test to determine your overall proficiency.


I think this was worth it for me and people who are going through a process of self-discovery. However, my final assessment is that it will likely tell you what you already somewhat probably knew about yourself.  For instance, it wasn’t a huge shock to me that I was extremely high in ideophoria and vocabulary.   What this test is definitely good for is confidence.  It gives you the confidence to explore and think about yourself and the time to do it in a structured manner.  Even the person who went over my results with me admitted to me that what this test does for most people is give them emotional permission and confidence to do something else.

I was pleased with my results meeting with the counselor.  I found out that I scored extremely high the tests ideaphoria, silograms, and vocabulary.  In his description of the characteristics of a person with my aptitudes, there were genuine moments where I thought, “wow, how could he be that accurate after just meeting me????” The counselors comments were so relevant that I first wondered if he was relating the results of my test to the dream career survey I filled out prior to the testing, and just telling me what I wanted to hear.  I have concluded that this was not the case, because he later told me that several of my dream careers were not for me.  Below are the “dream careers” I wrote down:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Politician
  • Project Manager
  • Investor
  • Leader / CEO
  • Creative Development
  • Member of think tank
  • College professor
  • Journalist / Interviewer
  • Sales / client manager (here I indicate that I am introverted)

They used this information above, along with my aptitudes to recommend the following careers:

  • Journalism
  • Advertising, marketing, public relations
  • Teaching
  • Consulting
  • Small Specialty Business

I appreciated that he was bold enough to tell me some items on my dream job list were not ideal for me, namely sales, management or executive function in a large company.  I was considering exploring these careers, so this has saved me a lot of time.  I agree with him as well.  I think a lot of times people like the idea of what a life would be like in those careers given the prestige, money, and freedom they can offer, but the day to day is what I realized I need to be focused on.  As a CEO, would it be great to give a moving speech to a company and motivate people?  Yes.  How about constant reviewing of spreadsheets and reports, i.e., the daily grind of operational execution?  Not so much.

I learned that my “subjective” personality requires autonomy.  I now see that I need to harness my high ideaphoria and vocabulary rather than see them as a hindrance (hence this blog).

So in the end, I think this test was worth it to me, even though my results weren’t exactly all surprising.

For people who are approaching career change with trepidation, this test can really be a confidence booster.  Since you are being measured against thousands of other people, you can discern whether you really do have an aptitude for something or if it is all just in your head.  If you are going through a period in life of self-reflection and trying to get your arms around who you really are and what you are good at, this may be good for you.

A few more final thoughts…

I think that all college age kids should take this test before choosing a major. Parents spend too much money on college for kids to go in clueless and making decisions about being lawyers based on TV shows and what their friends are doing.  $675 may be a lot of money, but how about that extra semester, because your kid realizes finance just isn’t a good fit.

The fact that I will be able to save time and close some doors that I was considering walking through made this well worth it for me. There is only so much time in life. The faster you can get on the tracks with mental clarity and moving towards a great long-term career the better.

I wish I had taken this a long time ago. I would have chosen a different career path. Everyone says, oh you got great experience in accounting. The truth is that I would have gotten great experience in anything I did and I would still be building on that experience.  If you are struggling for direction, this may help you.  If you don’t have the money, consider getting requesting money towards it for Christmas or a birthday.  It could be the gift that keeps on giving.

Before you take the test, consider researching what the aptitudes are (above), do some self-reflection, and obtain candid feedback from family members and friends who know and care about you enough to be honest. Many of my friends already mentioned some of the “recommended careers” to me.

Any questions on my experience, please feel free to drop me a note.  Good luck!

60 responses to My Experience With the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Testing

  1. So exactly what do you do for a living? Did you pick something from the Johnson O’Connor list?

    • Hey, I am sorry I did not see this. I am still doing audits, but am nearly done. I am working towards their suggestions and have been offered a position with a friends company (small boutique biz where I could wear multiple hats). I am also considering business journalism and teaching at a college. I am also doing this blog of course, but it is mainly for myself. Although my traffic has doubled, from 10 to 20 new users per day = ) I am optimistic about the future. Thanks for the note.

  2. Thank you for such a detailed description of the process with Johnson O’Connor! It was very helpful. We are researching both Johnson O’Connor and AIMS (Aptitude Inventory Measurement Service). Do you have any insight or information on AIMS that might help us choose between the two? My daughter will be a college freshman next year and is having difficulty deciding on a major. Again, thank you for a wonderful article!

    • Hi Stacey, thanks for the comment! I get excited when I get them, “oh wow, someone read something I wrote.” Anyway, I am going to send this response to this email address as well, since I am not sure this actually will get sent by my blog to your email address.

      First of all, kudos to you for having your daughter at least think about her aptitudes. Everyone always told me, oh don’t worry, you can always change careers, but it is much better to get it right the first time, or at least close. Hopefully, you will save yourselves a lot of money and time. I didn’t take the AIM sessions. I looked up AIM and it seems that they accomplish similar things, but AIM really doesn’t clearly list the aptitudes they are testing. However, the AIM sessions do look more computerized. J.O. was much more hands on for many of the activities. In fact, I don’t recall ever typing anything into a computer, just looking at a monitor and writing down my answers or working with my hands or a booklet. They are about the same cost as well. I liked J.O., because it has been around for a long time. I figured they may have more sample data to draw conclusions regarding my specific performance.

      I think what you will find is that the test helps confirm what you probably already have noticed in your daughter and what she has noticed in herself. It did for me. I wish I took the test at her age, because it would have helped align what I was good at, with what I enjoyed, so I could create a picture of my future based on that and move forward. I worked so hard to get good grades, I never really focused on what I was good at naturally, and just assumed I would want to be an accountant or lawyer since friends of the family were in those professions and seemed to have a life I wanted (house, cars, boat etc). I got through it all with Dexedrine, which is like Ritalin (have been a bit ADD all my life actually), but really would have been better in writing, marketing, or something where it pays to generate a lot of ideas rather than hurts you like in accounting.

      Anyway, I am going on and on, but excited about your comment. I hope it all works out well. If you do AIM, maybe shoot me a note about how it went, so I can contrast it with J.O., but if not no big deal. Good luck!

    • We too are trying to decide between AIM and Johnson O’Connor. I’d be very interested to hear any other insight into the differences and especially results session comparison. I think AIM gives an education packet to help with schools, etc. Great article! Thanks!

      • Unfortunately, I never took AIM, and don’t know anyone else who did either. Personally, I think JO was great for me and this is even clearer now as more time passes. The recommendations were perfect for me and I am now looking to go back to school for a masters in communications and I am also going to learn Spanish and maybe one day teach. I think it is worth the investment. If my parents had taken me for this test, I would have not gotten the degree I did (business / accounting). I was in it for the prestige and money, not because I was naturally talented at it, or it would make me happy. I think those are the two key ingredients in life. Best of luck and thanks for the comment.

  3. Great post. I went through aptitude testing with Johnson O’Connor 3 years ago and, like you, felt it gave me the self-confidence to make a major career change. I am one of the “cursed” too-many-aptitude people (10 aptitudes in the 90-percentile range), so I have attempted to satisfy many of my aptitudes through volunteer work. I too wish I had taken the tests early in my career (I’m 35), but am grateful that I’ve been able to realign my path and hopefully enjoy the next 35 years a little more.

    • Hey thanks for the positive feedback. I hope this gives people the desire to invest in their future, especially at a younger age. I would be interesting in knowing what career you switched to / from. And wow, 10 aptitudes in the 90 percentile! On the bright side, at least that is something to be proud of. My curse is ideaphoria coupled with some other really scores which hurt my ability to focus, but such is life. Have to learn to be happy with who you are. I really like writing though, which is why I started this blog. Just very cathartic. Too bad I can’t make a living doing this! 20 page views a day isn’t going to cut it = )

      Thanks for the comment, appreciate it. Take care.

  4. That was a good article about the JOCRF experience. I took the tests several years ago and it was somewhat helpful but not totally. Like you I am in accounting and have the aptitude to be a writer. Problem there is not much money in writing!
    I am wondering what aptitudes would be helpful in accounting? I am in accounts payable. I took an accounting class but it was hard for me. I had blamed it on not taking many prior business-oriented courses but I am not sure.

    • Hi,

      If you like to write, you might consider writing white papers. They can be very lucrative if you are really good at it. Look at your JOC results to see if writing white papers would fit it with your overall aptitudes. Winston Churchill might have been the first one to write such a paper back in 1922. It started in government and then technology…now it’s mostly B2B.


  5. Thank you for your indepth information about JO. My 15 yr. old son has an appt. in boston this Tuesday so I thought I would do more research. My doctor gave me this idea, she found it very helpful for herself and her daughter. I am anxious to see how he does. At first I felt he was too young but now I feel it is a good time. The aptitude tests don’t change as you grow and maybe he can get a head start on finding his likes and dislikes.

    • Thanks for the comment and if you think about it, please comment again and let the readers know how the testing went and how it helped your son…I am always interested in hearing these types of personal stories. Take care.

  6. I was once in accounting myself. Hated doing auditing, I could feel my creativity and free thinking slip out every minute that I did it.

    After I got laid off from my last accounting job, I knew it was time for a change. I always had a facination with engineering and mathematics. Mainly the creative side of engineering and science.

    So, I started taking computer science classes at my local university and now two years have passed. I am actually making $17k more than I did as a auditor and best of all I love my job. I am also working on a novel and 2-3 apps for the iTunes store.

    A lot of people say that you are throwing away all that you worked for when you change careers, but I have gained so much more and I am a lot happier.

    Good luck in your journey!

    • Thanks for the encouragement Brian, it is much needed…Completely switching careers is much more difficult than people think! I am thinking of trying to make a go of it blogging, who knows…I need to get more feedback on the site. It could use a lot of improvement. Glad your switch worked out, thanks for the comment.

  7. Dave Mulholland August 24, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I also think JO is a great test. For you guys who are accountants and tested high in ideaphoria and writing, had you considered forensic auditing? Nothing more rewarding than outsmarting the bad guys!

  8. You are absolutely right on when you say that every person planning to go to college should take this test. As a career counselor myself, I recommend this to all my clients since it does as you say, build confidence since the results confirm what you probably already knew about yourself. And often give us the answers to what we should or should not have as a career goal.

    A lawyer in my office shared that his daughter was struggling with her music curriculum in college. I advised him to send her for this testing. Turns out she had no music aptitude; was instead trying to emulate her older brother. This saved her lots of career disappointments–and her parents lots of tuition money wasted on music courses.

    Thank you for taking the time to share this all of us.

    • Thanks! I sure wish I had taken it earlier in life!

      • Yeah, me too. I am in the process of trying to work something out with JOC. They say they have no idea how they could help a Deaf person, but there are MANY hugely successful Deaf people out there. I know of Deaf lawyers, Deaf dentists, Deaf engineers, etc. etc. Deaf people CAN do it!

        I wish I had their level of high self awareness so I really, really want to go to JOC…but they say the results would not be accurate because I’m Deaf. When I was living in Boston, they would not even consider testing me. Now I’m back in Louisiana with my family…and I’m calling different JOC centers in other parts of the country to see if I can work something out. Traditional career tests like Myers Briggs, etc. have not worked for me at all. I think JOC is really much better than the average career tests given out in high schools.

  9. I just got back from my JOC testing. I got high Ideaphoria, Foresight, Inductive Reasoning, Pitch Discrimination, Color Discrimination, and Vocabulary as well as a subjective personality. Oddly, I also got the same Journalism
    Advertising, marketing, public relations
    Small Specialty Business
    suggestions as you did, so I HAD to comment. :P
    Did you find that there were aptitudes that you know that you have a natural affinity for, but failed to get as above average? I know when dealing with music, I have much better musical memory than most of my musician friends (and have had such tendencies since I was very young), yet I got well below average in tonal and rhythm memory.
    Also, since we seemed to have gotten similar suggestions, do you think you could share your MBTI? Part of me wonders if there is a little bit of a connection of Jungian cognitive functions and aptitudes.

    • I was really high in ideaphoria, vocabulary, and color discrimination. To your point, I don’t know if there is anything I KNOW for sure that I am a natural at, but I was surprised at some of the things I was low in such as foresight and analytical / inductive reasoning. I have always been future oriented and I feel I am very logical. I can organize ideas well. I was not really high or even average in anything else. I walked out thinking, damn, I am not as smart as I thought I was = ( For me, I was surprised, because I have been successful in life. I was towards the top of my class in high school and in college, I have my CPA, and I started my own company. Maybe that just means I am a hard worker? I don’t know. I have used Dexedrine to assist me with focusing for quite a while, so maybe that helped me past some of my limitations. I am going to go back to school for communications. That can help me get into marketing, advertising or public relations. I would even consider teaching. I am going to focus on what I am good at instead of trying to focus on NOT being bad at anything. As far as the MBTI, I took it twice, once in high school and once in college. I got slightly different results on both, because in college. I know I was an INTP for one of them. How about you?

  10. Hi,

    Thanks for a comprehensive post. I just finished my testing this week, and go in for my analysis in a couple of days.

    I notice this post was made late last year. Would you mind explaining your view on if this test still holds an impact in your life, after a bit of time has passed? For instance, did you switch jobs, or make steps to a different career path?

    (As an aside, I’m so nervous as to what they’ll tell me! I think it’s because the thought of a career change is a bit nerve-racking. Thanks for any input :) )

    • It is extremely nerve racking! I am slowly beginning a shift, and this has greatly helped me narrow down the things that I would like to do with my life! So, at least I can head in a direction now. I have started writing and putting myself out there through networking. So, I do believe this test is continuing to help me even after some time has passed. I hope things work out for you!

  11. Hi,

    Thanks for the comprehensive review! I’m thinking whether I should shell out $675 for this test..As I’m kinda lost right now after finished my 1st year college.

  12. I took the JO tests in 1985, 10 years after graduating college. I scored off the map on ideaphoria and only one other area. It helped me to realize why I was mediocre in my former job. I had felt like such a failure, until I took the tests. Then I realized I wasn’t doing exactly what I was meant to do … close, but not exact.

    Fast forward many years later and both of my daughters took the test. They ended up in careers that they were best suited for. Their college majors were based on the test results. In fact, I wouldn’t finance their college educations until they took the tests. Afterwards, they were happy I made them go to JO. Anyway, by the time they turned 30 a few years ago, they were both making almost 6-figures a year doing what they loved. They are currently married stay-at-home moms. Their good incomes enabled them to take time off to raise my little grandbabies.

    I tried to get my niece to go, but she thinks it’s a scam … go figure. She’s 34 and has never made more than the minimum wage … ugh! My other niece wouldn’t take the tests and she is working in a dead-end job that she doesn’t like very much. She’s simply not suited for social work. Period.

    I’d highly, highly recommend JO, especially before choosing a college major or deciding on a trade school, etc. JO is the way to go!

  13. Great blog – looking at a post-military period, so want to see if I can ditch my “typecasting” and begin a fresh new career. Thanks for posting.

  14. Hey I was reading Dave Ramseys book called financial peace and he mentioned maybe looking into detailed aptitude testing to help see what kind of work you would enjoy and be good at. I came across the O connor website and liked what I read and got out of the website. I was stoked to see there is a center in Los Angeles but not so stoked at the $650 price. This does seem like something I should heavily consider im attending a community coll
    ege and am somewhat clueless as to what major I should pursue and I amb tired of not knowing for myself.should i do some self searching and check out different self assesment books to figure out my aptitudes for my self or would saving for the o connor test be a wiser thing to pursue

    • Hey there, thanks for the comment. I thought this test was great. It really confirmed a lot of things for me. I think you would find the same thing, because most people I have talked to after taking this test or a test like it look at their results and say something like “that is so me.” If you think about it, since they typically agree with the results they had some inkling of what they were good at / their personality in the first place. I think you do too, you just need to unlock your intuition, which sounds cheesy, I know. I do think it is a good idea to take this test though, because it gives you confidence in your choice of majors. Like you, I was clueless in determining a major. Looking back, what I should have done is asked myself what dreams would I pursue if I was not afraid of failure, if I did not find my identify in my accomplishments only? If I wasn’t so shy? If I didn’t struggle with anxiety and uncertainty about myself? The answer to that is that I would have gone directly into marketing, or branding, or some sort of field that involves changing the norm and influencing people. I would have started one of the business that I was dreaming of at the time. Instead, I focused on how much money I would make and reducing risk and going about my dreams in a round about fashion…if I make this much money, I can buy a business and hire the people to do the things I am afraid of doing…That led me down the completely wrong path. Best advice I can give you is to try to take the JO aptitude test if you can save up, but more than that try a lot of different things, experience as much as possible realizing that failure is inevitable in life and the biggest risk of all is not taking any risks and solely trying to make a decision based on a test. Watch this video and you will know what I mean If you really want to take a test, try this one first, because it is way cheaper. You have to buy the book brand new to get the code to take the test online, since the book gives a lot of background. I took it, and it confirmed what the JO counselors told me. See if it gives you the clarity you need and perhaps you can avoid the $650 fee for JO = ). I am passionate about this subject as you can tell! Good luck!

  15. Thanks for getting back to me. Ive been looking more into the aptitude testing to try to explain it better so people dont look at me weird when I tell them I want to take an expensive test. Thanks for the advice. It seems to me like everybody should either take this test or at least extensively research their own aptituds

  16. Wake up call May 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Regardless of what you think your aptitude skills are learn CRITICAL THINKING and make your VOCABULARY as large and as precise as you can. Yes this means taking the words back into their etymology and construct the cumulative weight of each word from at least two different english dictionaries,because the subtle differences in meaning can bring profound insight. Yes that’s right learn the Kings English well enough and how to use it with critical thinking and you will see there are no limits to what you can do. These skills will be hard to learn, no doubt, but if you value truth and love the endeavor is worth every second.

    By all means take this JO test, but remember that it is beneficial to a certain degree after all this non-profit seems to have good intentions as did many of the other “career” tests that have come before it. Take the test for what it’s worth. A quick caveat on the career tests will show that the all mighty Myers-Briggs test has had quite a destructive impact on those people who have taken it as the end all decider for their life’s work. Psychiatrists have been documenting a steady stream of problems with these post-Briggs patients and it has been an eye opening experience in the world of career counselors. Now the JO test granted is different than the Briggs, but my point in this argument is to take the test as a beneficial piece of information to help you pursue your life’s work. Always question everything and learn to think for yourself!

    In addition if you are serious about your life’s work a good read would be “Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design” and thoroughly studying this cutting edge lecture series on critical thinking “Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, 2nd Edition” by the Teaching Company. You should be able to find the lectures at

    When all is said and done question me and everything else! All the best, may you help bring peace and love to the world.

  17. Great article. Thank you for explaining everything so clearly. Out of curiosity, how many areas did you score in the “high” region? I just got my results back and only have 6 items in the high region. Not sure if this is normal.

    Also – I want to clarify, the “reasoning” tests are not actually about intelligence. The way I was explained, was these tests had to do with how comfortable you felt making fast decisions and how accurate your intuition was. So, I got a 5% on my inductive reasoning – which had to do with selecting 3 common images from a set of images. In this timed unrestricted exercise, I triple-checked my answer for each set because that’s just my style. It turned out, I got little wrong. However, I was explained, I received a low score because I was slow. In fact, there were people that got many more wrong, but did significantly better because they were fast and felt comfortable making these decisions fast. Although the formula is questionable for these weighted scores, I did learn that I would definitely dislike being in a setting with fast “reasoning” skills. I like collecting my data and analyzing it slowly. I dislike being pressured to make haste decisions.

  18. Hey, I’m going to be a junior in high school and I’ve always had a problem with deciding if i like something because i actually enjoy it or i just say i do because I excel at it. My parents have been wanting me to figure out what i want to do in life but i honestly have no idea. Do you think this test would help me figure it all out?

    • Yes, I would take this over a personality test, because your personality can change a bit over time as you get older and experience new things. Give it a shot. Let me know how it goes. I wish I had taken something like this at a younger age.

  19. Hi Kyle,

    Thanks for sharing!

    I took the JO test about 30 years ago, and to be honest, it gave me some accurate but disappointing results! I scored below average to average in all areas except rhythm which I was 97 percentile. Basically, as I recall, I could be a secretary, but even that was not a good fit. Talk about a self esteem killer – but keep reading, my story has a surprise ending!

    I went to college, completed a degree in psychology and became a social worker for about 6 years before my husband and I started a family.

    After being a stay at home mom for about 5 years, I started a home-based business selling birthday party favors. Fast forward 10 years — I now own a small online business that is expected to exceed half a million in sales this year! Who would have thought a below average skills and gifts person could be an entrepreneur?!? Apparently, they do not test for some of the “natural gifts” needed for business owners and entrepreneurs.

    With that said, my parents would like my children to take the test. And in looking above, the test looks very similar to what I took years ago! My advice for my children “Let the test guide you, but don’t let it be the final say in your future — you get to choose that!”

    • Wow, that is awesome! Yes, I hope my performance is not indicative of my future success since my scores weren’t all that great. I took it more as a sign of what my natural talents are. Hard work and dedication work out in the end. Congratulations on your business, that is awesome. I checked out the website, (plug for you!) and what a great idea! Thanks for the comment.

  20. Don’t know if this blog is still active, but for several years after college I was a test administrator/counselor for the DC office of Johnson O’Connor. I’m glad to hear it was a stimulating and valuable experience for you, and had some thoughts about your results. If you’re already an accountant but with ideaphoria, you must know that there are creative outlets in your field of expertise. I don’t mean “creative accounting” such as cooking the books and helping rich people hide their money. More like creating specialty templates in Excel or OpenOffice Calc that serve to take the drudgery out of routine tasks. Or in journalism, staking out your specialty in financial writing. Financial literacy is a crying need. It should be an academic subject beginning in elementary school and extending through high school. Kids don’t understand interest rates, and later on they don’t understand credit cards. If such courses are developed, they will probably be developed by people with ability profiles like yours. Numbers can seem boring, but when the numbers represent the dollars in your income and outflow, they become absolutely riveting.

    Like yourself, when I took the battery of tests I had a low score in Inductive Reasoning and thought it reflected poorly on my intelligence. I can tell you as a test administrator, for a high score it is far more important to decide quickly than to avoid errors on that test. I used to stress this in my directions, and my testees scored disturbingly higher on average than 50 percent. I was taken to task for this, but it’s not like I was coaching them on the answers. Not all test administrators demonstrate how quickly you have to move the pencil for a high score; maybe yours didn’t stress that, and maybe your natural caution, and your natural desire for an error-free work product, lowered your score to the point it didn’t reflect your aptitude. I couldn’t say for sure, but it is a distinct possibility.

    • It is still active, and thank you for the comment. I agree with you on your points, except for there being outlets in accounting and audit. Particularly audit, which is where I was working. You pretty much had to go by the book. I never spent time working in an accounting department. I just know that it is tremendously difficult for me to be in spreadsheets that long during the day.

      I would love to write and help people with financial literacy. Thanks again!

  21. I was very encouraged reading this article and people’s comments. I am planning to take my daughter (who is a junior in high school) for this testing soon. She is unsure of her interests, talents and college career, so it seems like a great way to get some “scientific” advice and direction. My brother has taken his 3 boys and they are thrilled with the information they learned about themselves. As it was explained to them, you do not need to use all your aptitudes in your career, but if not part of your career, they should be part of your life in the form of hobbies/volunteering etc so that you continue to do something that brings you personal joy. Thank you to everyone’s comments, it helps to understand the process and the benefits.

  22. Kyle, I was very impressed with your description. I went to JO 36 years ago as an “employee benefit” from my then-employer. I did a terrible job at selecting my major in college if measured from a strict monetary measure but it was one that also did no no harm.

    The basic idea of enjoying what you are naturally good at holds true for me and I have enjoyed my career as a teacher and consultant.

    I revisited JO’s website today as I consider whether a fellow employee could gain something you mention in your post: confidence and direction.

  23. HI Kyle,
    Thank you so much for keeping this blog active. I have been considering a career change after 20 years as a flight attendant. I have a huge amount of customer service experience but very little else. I am currently a grad student studying accounting and not really enjoying it. A passenger (a well-known tv news anchor) told me about JO and I have been thinking about it for a while now. After reading your blog and everyone’s stories here I am definitely going to take this test. I think I will feel relief if they tell me I have no aptitude for accounting! Thanks again for sharing your story.

  24. Hi Kyle

    I just took my 16 year old daughter to Boston for J-O testing and we are now scrambling to get her Grade 11 course schedule revised to fit better into her aptitudes/potential career choices. Coincidentally her career suggestions from J-O mirror yours, so I guess she has pretty close to the same aptitudes. I have also had the testing done a few years back (mid-career like you), and discovered I wasn’t a good fit for my current career. I have made some changes in what I do as a result (limited by a smallish employment market where I live), but really plan to kick things into gear when I retire in a couple of years. Meanwhile, we’ll be spending some time helping our daughter make her career/university choices.

    One thing you didn’t mention was that the J-O testing fee also includes a follow-up session within the first year after testing. So we will be returning to Boston next summer after our daughter has narrowed her choice down to one or two careers to get advice on universities, best programs, etc.

    Thanks, interesting blog!


  25. Thanks Kyle for the article. I’m currently going through an identity crisis and have been depressed for the past week . Your article has really encouraged me to take the test, although I’m not sure when since I don’t live in the states. I’m very good at my job but hate it so much, I would quit but it pays too well to do that.
    I hope you’re happy with what you’re doing now and I can see from the comments and your responses that you have had made a change.

    Thanks again

    • I am sorry to hear that, but I can tell you it is good to go through those things as long as you don’t let it get out of control. I was depressed and looking back, it was a natural response to a depressing situation. Of course I would be depressed if I thought I was spending my life unhappy but too afraid to change, right? It’s natural, not wrong. What would be wrong is not feeling depressed. I am glad my article encouraged you. I had a very good paying job too, but I myself had to give it up to be true to myself. I found it was better that way, because life is short. I am using all of my knowledge to start a new company called Opportunity just presented itself. I was writing freelance for a while and still do. I have even rented my loft out on airbnb to make extra money. The point is, it is important to be happy and not be trapped. Your job is not the only one that pays and not the only one you’ll ever get. I hope I am not being pushy, but that is what I think. It sounds like you have options and your biggest obstacle may be fear. I know it was mine. Good luck = )

  26. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog, because it the last little bit of solidification I needed to pursue the Johnson O’ Connor Aptitude Test. Pretty much all of the aforementioned posts were insinuating a “daring career change,” whereas, I am just WANTING to find a career. I’ll be 30 years-old in April and have never had any semblance of a career. For the first time in my life, I am making over $10, an hour, and it’s embarrassing to admit that it is the best I have ever done. The embarrassment isn’t necessarily seeded in others’ outward perception of where I am in life, but rather I have $22,000 in school debt and not a damn thing to show for it; the embarrassment is that I haven’t put a penny towards an IRA, UGMA (got my first in the “oven!” :), or 401(k). I read Dave Ramsey’s work like it’s a bible and I actually understand the financial game, yet nothing more than a handful of change in my ashtray to show for it.

    I know that it would be far too good to be true, but it would be phenomenal if they offered scholarships for the destitutes that are my girlfriend and I. The next step is just trying to figure out the logistics of the 10 hour-long drive to get to a testing center and how to further account for all the additional necessitated expenses that accompany the test. I would be lookin’ at probably $1,100 round trip for this endeavor. : *( BLEH!

    • I am glad I could help. Stay tuned for some other articles I am working on regarding more affordable ways to find navigate a career path. I hope it all works out for you, thanks for the comment.

  27. Thank you for this article. This test was recommended to me by my husband’s boss. I was in a career for 8 years before realizing it was a terrible fit. I have since taken time off and pursued a new path, but am still not 100% happy with it. I had to obtain a Master’s for my previous career and do not want to go back to school only to choose a bad path again. I read ‘What color is your parachute?’ and that was very helpful, but requires a lot of self analysis, which I think is too subjective and easy to get wrong (how can we accurately assess ourselves?). My question is, does this test analyze social aptitudes? I feel that I am a very social and empathetic person and have been really interested in counseling paths, but I don’t see any mention of this skill in tests. I am planning on flying to Boston from overseas, so I want to make sure it’s the best test for me!

    • Thanks for the comment. Unless things have changed, I do not believe that it tests social aptitudes. This test was developed back in the day when people were being integrated into an increasingly industrial economy. At that time, empathy and social skills weren’t considered as important (my opinion here).

      I would say that you can assess yourself, but only if you have done the hard work to really understand yourself. I was not surprised by the areas I tested high and low in. Honestly, I think I was just terrified to begin walking down an uncertain path and JO gave me the confidence to pursue things that I had deeply wanted to do, but was too afraid of.

      If you think you are an empathetic and social person, your friends think you are, and your family thinks you are, and you take the test and it doesn’t indicate you shouldn’t pursue that path, and you talk to someone in the field and get a good sense of the day to day reality of the work, I would say you are just being held back by the uncertainty of it all, just as I was. The test, for me, validated that I wasn’t crazy or irresponsible for wanting such a drastic career change from accounting to writing / marketing / WordPress. The hard part was moving forward without the clear path that accounting afforded me despite the fact that I hated it.

      I wish you all the luck and courage you need to go in the direction that will make you the feel whole in your work even if it isn’t the easiest = )

  28. Hello Kyle,

    Thanks for this thorough analysis and advice – very useful.

    Which organisations are similar to Johnson O’Connor in the UK? I would like to take the aptitude test by Johnson O’Connor but am currently unable to travel to the US. Therefore, need to find an alternative in the UK.

    Look forward to your reply.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Afzaal. Thanks for your comment. I am not sure about the UK. If you find out something similar in the UK, please let me know and I can add the information to the page.

  29. This is an interesting blog. I took JOC testing about four years ago. I am just now thinking about using it. I didn’t have but a few aptitudes, but it’s perhaps the particular combination that should be used. One of the major things of interest to me is developing a large vocabulary. I work in a bookstore and being familiar with the language of any area is something that would help me be able to pick up things more quickly.

  30. Kyle….I learned of the Johnson O’Connor Aptitude Test after a discussion with a friend about having enjoyed great success in my career but sometimes having an underlying feeling that there is something else or perhaps there is an additional something that I might be doing. So I Googled and your post popped up…..I realize you did this some time ago but reading all the posts it sounds like it is still relevant. Thank you for sharing your experience and also keeping the post open for others to respond too. I appreciated reading many of their experiences as well.

    • Hi Debbie, it is still relevant. The test really does not change much unless I am mistaken. I agree, financial and career success does not equate to a feeling grounded in your career choice.

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