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About the ETS® Personal Skills and Qualities Tool

Excelling in coursework and mastering tasks related to one's future field are certainly important accomplishments. But success in higher education and the workforce isn’t achieved only by acquiring discipline-specific knowledge. When asked about the skills most critical for success, employers, as well as graduate, business and law programs, point to less tangible skills like perseverance, resiliency, collaboration, leadership, organization and creativity. In fact, graduate and professional schools expressed that students without these skills were more likely to struggle, experience more stress, conflict with others and drop out.

The ETS® Personal Skills and Qualities (PSQ) tool is a quick, easy way to gather insights about the inter- and intrapersonal skills essential for program and career success. These insights can help you personalize student and career development activities, aid in cohort development, and inform applicant interviews.

Skill dimensions and composite view

The PSQ tool provides insights that are aligned to the Big Five Factors of Personality: Extraversion, Conscientiousness, Openness, Agreeableness and Positive Emotionality.

In addition, it provides insights about 14 individual skill dimensions:

  • Perseverance
  • Leadership
  • Resiliency
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Responsibility
  • Self-discipline
  • Curiosity
  • Even-temperedness
  • Sociability
  • Organization
  • Trust
  • Abidance
  • Artistic Appreciation

ETS researchers are available to discuss how to use statistical methods to capture skill sets most valuable to your program.

Format and fake resistance

The PSQ tool is designed so that learners will be unable to guess which answer makes them sound “best.” The format requires respondents to choose from three statements of equal appeal which is most like them and which is least like them. And the inability to prepare for or game the tool minimizes the chances of any respondent having an unfair advantage over another.

Learn more about the research behind the PSQ tool.

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