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Ability Tests

MAT – Mechanical Aptitude Test

Dr. Bairaktarova, in collaboration with social psychologists, a psychometrician, and an engineering education researcher has developed a new mechanical aptitude scale. The mechanical aptitude items were designed and tested across four phases in large samples of engineering and non-STEM students across four U.S. universities. An item analysis was conducted to screen questions not meeting established criteria for item difficulty and item discrimination. After which a one-factor confirmatory factor analysis was run with diagonalized weighted least squares. The current MAT scale consists of 17 multiple choice items narrowed down from a larger bank of 68 items covering topics related to mechanical insight, mechanical knowledge, shop geometry and measurement, and tool knowledge.

The ACE(D)_MAT is presented online with no cost to educators and researchers. The items are stored electronically and reflect three dimensional (3D), colored objects and tools common in engineering. The scale shows no evidence of gender or English-language proficiency bias. The scale reliably distinguishes between expert (engineering students) and novice (non-engineering students) test-takers and is strongly correlated with extant measures of mechanical aptitude. 


The development of MAT scale is published in International Journal of Engineering Education:

For more information and use of ACE(D)_MAT, please contact Dr. Bairaktarova (


Spatial Ability

Another project involves investigating psychological interventions that can be used in conjunction with teaching best practices to improve engineering students’ self-evaluations and their performance on critical skills such as spatial ability.

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