GIA Education


The General Intelligence Assessment (GIA) provides an accurate prediction of the time it will take your students and teachers to process new information. By gauging their capabilities, you will be able to tailor how you approach the learning environment to varying levels.

OverviewThe Science

Assess: Aptitude and ability
Type: Normative psychometric assessment
Time: 40 minutes

GIA gives you a prediction of a young person's potential to grasp new ideas and processes or respond to training. It will help you to identify any students being under or over-challenged, enabling you to take action to motivate and engage them and proactively improve their performance.


Use GIA to:

  • Measure mental capacity, including problem solving and adaptability
  • Understand how to develop students
  • Ensure appropriate support is offered to those underperforming
  • Create coping strategies to improve performance
  • Ensure a person is sufficiently challenged

Want to see it in action? Check out our Opus Energy testimonial.

Test author: Dr. Peter Dann

Year of construction: 1992


Background and theory:

The GIA, was developed over 15 years by Dr Peter Dann in the Human Assessment Laboratory at the University of Plymouth. Thomas integrated the GIA into its product suite in 2006.

Intelligence has been defined as having fluid and crystallised components (Horn & Cattell, 1966):

  • Fluid Intelligence (pure processing speed) – basic intellectual processes of manipulating abstract concepts, generalisations and logical relationships (Carroll, 1993). Fluid intelligence is used to solve new problems, use logic in new situations and identify patterns.
  • Crystallised Intelligence (learnt factors) – verbal, mechanical, and numerical ability etc. Crystallised intelligence is the ability to use learned knowledge and experience

The GIA is an assessment of intelligence designed and theoretically underpinned by Carroll's taxonomy/classification of cognitive abilities components of 'g', which is general intelligence (Spearman's & others' general factor of mental performance). However, the GIA is concerned much more with fluid intelligence and the use of procedural rather than declarative knowledge, by measuring elementary cognitive abilities (perceptual speed, verbal reasoning etc.). This assesses what we have termed trainability rather than 'IQ'.

The GIA looks at an individual's speed of processing information and ability to learn and develop new skills. The General Intelligence Assessment is used for a variety of purposes: recruitment, retention, development, management, identifying training needs, career guidance, succession planning and benchmarking.

The GIA was first developed as a way to measure cognitive abilities and trainability of Armed Forces known as the British Army Recruitment Battery (BARB). As the GIA continued to develop, the Human Assessment Laboratory used the potential of computer technology to pioneer the research and development of item-generation whereby test items are automatically produced to create an extremely large number of different but equivalent forms of the same test (Irvine, Dann & Anderson, 1990). GIA, along with a paper-based version, was developed from the same theoretical principles and resources as BARB. Thomas International integrated the paper-based version into its product suite in 1993 and GIA in 2006.


The General Intelligence Assessment consists of five online tests of simple cognitive abilities (i.e. abilities that rely on processes such as thought, language, decision making, learning and memory).

Each of the five tests has one type of task and all the questions in a given test are of an equal level of difficulty. The individual's score is then determined by the speed and accuracy of their responses. Scores are then compared to a sample population (the norm group) to determine whether the scores are lower, higher or in-line with the majority of that population.

Although the overall score measures 'trainability', each of the five tests measures a specific cognitive function (detailed below):

Perceptual Speed: This test measures the perception of inaccuracies in written material, numbers and diagrams, the ability to ignore irrelevant information, the ability to recognise similarities and differences, and error checking. It tests the speed of semantic encoding and comparison.

Reasoning: This test measures the ability to make inferences, the ability to reason from information provided and to draw the correct conclusions. This test assesses the ability of an individual to hold information in their short-term memory and solve problems.

Number Speed and Accuracy: This is a test of numerical manipulation and a measure of basic numerical reasoning ability. It measures the degree to which an individual can work comfortably with quantitative concepts.

Spatial Visualisation: This test measures the ability to create and manipulate mental images of objects. This test correlates with tests of mechanical reasoning, and assesses an individual’s ability to use mental visualisation skills to compare shapes. It relates to the ability to work in environments where visualisation skills are required to understand and execute tasks.

Word Meaning: This test assesses word knowledge and vocabulary. It assesses the comprehension of a large number of words from different parts of speech and the ability to identify the words that have similar or opposite meanings. It assesses the ability to work in environments where a clear understanding of written or spoken instructions is required.

Reliability and validity:

The GIA has been subject to rigorous scientific testing to determine its reliability and validity as a psychological assessment. Various research studies have shown that the GIA is a consistent and valid measure of trainability.