I recently graduated from high school and am confused as to what degree to pursue. I am interested in environmental sciences or something related to the environment but I am not too sure about my strengths and weaknesses. I've tried looking up the subjects related to the environment on the internet but I haven't been able to find a site that answers my queries. Could you suggest a source that can help me take an informed decision regarding my future?
Tessa, by email 

At the outset let me tell you that you are not alone. There are many students like you who are not sure what degree to pursue once they complete their school studies. To all of them I recommend that they take a psychometric test.

Psychometric tests are measures of the mental skills, aptitudes and personality traits of people. Only tests that have been standardised for their reliability and validity should be used as only they will give the correct results. Such tests can help you identify your less-obvious attributes.

These tests include personality profiles, reasoning tests, motivation questionnaires and ability assessments. A good psychometric test provides a fair and accurate result each time it is given. The tests must meet the following criteria:

1. Standardisation: the test must be based on a sample population that is truly representative of the people who will be taking it.

2. Reliability: the tests must have consistent results and not be influenced by emotions you may be experiencing at the moment such as stress or excitement.

3. Validity: this is perhaps the most important quality of a test. A valid test has to measure a person's interests and then clearly demonstrate them.

The tests measure interests, personality, aptitude, verbal comprehension and reasoning, numerical reasoning, situational judgment, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning and speed and accuracy. Over 85 per cent of employers use these tests in conjunction with interviews while recruiting.

The advantages of the tests are that they are impartial and objective, easy to administer and quick to give results, difficult to cheat as there are complex variations, and pretty accurate.

Some disadvantages are that the tests can be confusing as you may have to follow a set format. Also, older tests are based on archaic data. Another disadvantage could be that a test does not accommodate candidates for whom English is not their first language.

Now, regarding your interest in environmental science. This branch of science integrates physical and biological sciences to study the environment and the solution of environment problems. You could study environmental studies and environmental engineering. The study will also focus on policies, politics, law, pollution control, etc.

Ask me a question…

Verma began his career with Ernst & Young before moving on to set up the Gulf Operations of IDP Education Pty. He now leads Intelligent Partners in Dubai developing
a wide range of solutions in areas of international education. Ask a question at friday@gulfnews.com