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HEIghten® Intercultural Competency & Diversity Assessment

In today's global society, demonstrating intercultural competence has become an essential skill for success in the 21st-century workplace.

Intercultural competence is defined as the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one's intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes.

The HEIghten® Intercultural Competency & Diversity assessment evaluates college students' ability to demonstrate central aspects of intercultural competence.

What It Measures

The assessment focuses on three stages of intercultural competence: Approach, Analyze and Act.


The Approach dimension looks at the overall positivity with which an individual views and responds to cross-cultural interactions. Test takers are asked to self-report on their reactions to hypothetical situations by demonstrating the following:

  • Tolerance of ambiguity — the ability to maintain composure and well-being in uncertain situations without compromising effectiveness
  • Positive cultural orientation — the evaluation of cross-cultural situations as favorable
  • Cross-cultural self-efficacy — the belief that they can successfully engage in cross-cultural situations

Analyze and Act

The Analyze dimension measures the test taker's ability to take in, evaluate and synthesize relevant information without the bias of preconceived judgments and stereotyped thinking. Areas of emphasis include:

  • Self-awareness — understanding the impact that one's own culture, values, preferences and previous experiences has on cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses
  • Social monitoring — awareness of physical, verbal and nonverbal behaviors and cues of others during a social interaction; attention to others' responses to one's own actions and signals
  • Suspending judgment/perspective taking — active consideration of others' potential viewpoints and active refrainment of preconceived cultural schema interfering with information processing
  • Cultural knowledge application — utilizing relevant declarative cultural knowledge in an interaction

The Act dimension incorporates the behaviors determined by the Analyze stage to assess individuals' ability to translate thought into action while maintaining control in potentially challenging and stressful situations. Test takers are assessed in areas reflecting behaviors and emotions in cross-cultural situations, including:

  • Behavior regulation — active monitoring and revision of personal behavior to engage in culturally appropriate behavior and avoid engaging in culturally inappropriate behavior
  • Emotion regulation — ability to monitor and revise emotions in an automatic or controlled manner

Test Design

The HEIghten Intercultural Competency & Diversity assessment is administered in a single 45-minute testing session. Each test taker answers 74 questions.

The Approach domain consists of 40 Likert-type items. Test takers are presented with short statements and then asked to rate their level of agreement for each of the 40 statements.

The Analyze and Act dimensions are assessed with 34 situational judgment test items. Test takers are presented with a range of cross-cultural scenarios and questions relating to each scenario. Test takers are asked to indicate the best or most appropriate response or responses with the aim of creating or maintaining positive interactions and relationships in cross-cultural settings.

Sample Questions

The sample questions provide examples of the skills measured, contexts covered and the difficulty of the questions. The sample questions and answers are for reference only. They are not actual questions currently used on the test.

Download the sample questions.

Test Review

While the HEIghten Intercultural Competency & Diversity assessment is developed to measure a common set of skills, judging the appropriateness of the test is an important first step in considering its use. Assessment directors and faculty members should review the test content and skill area coverage to determine whether it is consistent with your institution's expectations.

ETS provides resources to help institutions evaluate the appropriateness of our assessments.

For More Information

For more information about how the HEIghten Intercultural Competency & Diversity assessment can be used at your institution, contact an ETS Advisor.

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