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Psychology: Finding Psychology Tests

I know the topic, but not the test name. Where should I start?

This page is based on work initially completed by Bernadette A. Lear.  It has been modified and updated with permission. 



Unfortunately, there is currently no database that provides free, full-text copies of psychological instruments or tests. However, there could be hundreds of tests available, depending on the people you want to assess, and what you want to learn about them. So your first steps are to:

  • find basic information about available tests

  • select the ones that fit into your testing criteria

Here are the most comprehensive sources that allow you to search by topic. They provide basic information, such as test name, purpose, population, scoring system, validity, price, and publisher.

Where can I find test information?


Test can be difficult to find, even in the online versions databases.

Some tests have abbreviations, popular names, and “official” or spelled-out names. For instance, one well-known test is referred to as the “MBTI,” “Myers-Briggs,” or the “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” Try all these names in your searches.

Too few results?

Try related words. For instance, if you’d like to measure problem-solving ability in 16 to 21-year olds, try similar words like adolescents, or high school, or teenagers. Or, look for broader terms than “problem solving ability” (like behavior, intelligence, or personality).

Too many results?

If you’re using a database and you’re finding TOO MANY results, and many of them seem irrelevant, the database might be searching the “full record” of each test (including every word mentioned in the description, critique, and bibliography). If you are using MMY online, try clicking on the yellow “Index” tab at the top of the page. You can use the Index to search specific parts of each record, such as the “Acronym” or “Test Name” (such as MMPI), “Test Author” (Beck), or “Scoring” (motivation, rejection, etc.).

Pay attention to ALL clues you find regarding a test, even its author or publisher may be useful in locating it. If you can find them, take note of the corporation or university where the author works (including the name of the university and the academic department); the names of EVERY author who was involved in the development of the test; and the names, dates, and differences between alternative versions of the test.

REMEMBER: Most databases will not give you a copy of the actual test. Instead, they provide important clues that will help you track it down. They sometimes give contact information for a company that distributes (sells) the test. Also, they may include a bibliography. In the bibliography, you might a book or journal article that includes a copy of the test or further clues about it.

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Are there other resources for finding tests?


Yes. University researchers, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, consultants, and others sometimes develop their own instruments. If they have published a journal article, research paper, book, or web page about their research, a copy of the testing instrument might be included in the text or in an appendix.

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So where do you search for tests?


Journal Article

PsycINFO is one of the primary databases for searching for articles based on psychological tests. For best results you can compose your search in the following manner.

  • Select advanced search

  • Put the name of the test in the first box with other abbreviations or alternative names in the same row.

  • In the second row, type in “test OR inventory OR scale OR rating OR measure OR indicator OR assessment.” Change the search from ANYWHERE to TEST AND MEASURES.

  • Click on the search button.

You should see a list of articles that feature the test that you are searching for. In some cases, there is a copy of the test that was used in the study attached to the article.



Omni, the library catalogue will allow you to search for books on psychological assessment for the topic or population that interests you. You can search using the ADVANCED “Keyword anywhere” search. Books on testing often have words like "assessment,” “instruments,” “measurement,” “researching,” "scaling,” or “testing” in the titles, chapter titles, subject headings, or description. If you’d like to search for these items, type in broad keywords (like “personality,” “women,” or “intelligence”), and add words like “assessment” or “measurement” to your search. Remember to “truncate” your search so that the catalog will find all forms of the root word.


Directories of unpublished tests

Tests and Measures in the Social Sciences by Helen Hough. Free online and available on the University of Texas -Arlington’s site. Contains references to more than 10,000 tests published in more than 100 different books. After you find a citation to a book, you can check OMNI to try and borrow a copy.

Another resource is the Directory of Unpublished Experimental Mental Measures (8 volumes, Washington, DC: APA, 1974-present). This directory lists instruments printed in about 35 of the top Psychology journals.

  • In paper REF BF431 .D56x (Porter)

Look in the catalog of a library that has a large test collection. One helpful resource is the Directory of Test Collections in Academic, Professional, and Research Libraries, by the Education and Behavioral Sciences section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (Chicago: American Library Association, 2001). Call number REF LB3051.D564 2001. This will tell you the self-reported strengths and weaknesses of other test collections in libraries throughout the United States, as well as whether the collections are open to the public.

ETS is the same company that developed the SAT and the GRE. It has one of the largest libraries of testing instruments. Its online library catalog, TestLink lists more than 25,000 tests. It is searchable by author or title. There is an option to purchase some copies of tests directly from ETS.

Google. If the test you are looking for was created recently, you may be able to locate the author by searching in Google for the person's name.

Google Scholar. This limits your search to “scholarly” papers, articles, and web sites. Or, if the author teaches at a university, you can visit the university’s web page. You may be able to find his or her contact information in a campus directory, lists of faculty, or on the web page for his/her academic department.  If you know the name of the test, search as a phrase.

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How can I find out if this is a “good” or “bad” test? Is the test well-designed?


In sources like MMY, reviewers often discuss the “validity” of tests. According to the Sage Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods, validity is “the extent to which any measuring instrument measures what it is intended to measure.” Validity is an important indication of whether a test will be useful. But, as the Sage Encyclopedia explains, validity not only depends on the instrument itself, but how you use the instrument. Even if a test is generally considered to be "valid," it might not be applicable to the particular group, behavior, or situation you are trying to study (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004, p. 1171).

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If I find a copy of a test, can I just go ahead and use it?


No. For one thing, some tests can only be purchased, administered, or interpreted by a licensed or certified professional. Even if you are qualified to administer the test, there are a lot of other things you may need to do first. These include, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:

  • Talking with your professor about whether the instrument is suitable for your project.

  • Getting Ethics approval for your project.

  • Getting the author’s/publisher’s permission to use the test.

  • Getting any training or certification that is required to administer the test properly.

  • Recruiting test subjects in a proper and ethical manner.

  • Finding an appropriate test environment.

  • Making arrangements for storing and analyzing your data.

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How do I get in contact with the author or publisher of a test?


If the test was printed in a journal article or book, consider many university professors have faculty web pages, and many consultants and employees are listed on corporate web pages, and have posted resumes and other contact information on the Internet. Look for the e-mail address or institutional affiliation of the author (often you can find it on the first or last page of a journal article, or on the jacket or back pages of a book). If you have the author’s name and his/her place of work, you can usually locate him/her by using a search engine like Google (

If the test is distributed by a publisher, it can be difficult to find the current publisher, especially for older tests. Smaller publishing companies are constantly being bought out by larger corporations. Here are some of the well-known publishers and their web sites:

Why do I have to pay for copies of tests?


A test’s design is a piece of intellectual property.  It is protected by copyright laws that prohibit use without permission of the author.  Some authors will allow you to use their test without payment.  However, others require that fee(s) are submitted for use.  Just finding a copy of the test is insufficient, you still need permission to use it (or as granted when you purchase it).

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I heard that the Psychology Test Library has copies of many tests. Is this true?


Yes,  However, these tests can only be used by Graduate Students in courses on Psychological assessment and the faculty teaching these courses.  Occasionally these tests are made available to undergraduate students on request from their supervisor.  This is not a lending library.

A complete list of material available from the center is available online. HOWEVER, this link can only be used by computers in the PAS building.


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Does the library have information about administering tests?

How do I find reliable information about “classic” psych experiments?


If you are a researcher who wants to follow the footsteps of Harry Harlow, Stanley Milgram, or Philip Zimbardo? The University of Waterloo Library has books that describe famous psychological experiments. Try these resources first, since each includes multiple experiments:

  • Classic Case Studies in Psychology, by Geoff Rolls (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005). Call number RC465.R65 2005.

  • Classic Experiments in Psychology, by Douglas G. Mook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004). Call number BF198.7.M66 2004.

  • Forty Studies That Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research, by Roger R. Hock (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2005). Call number BF198.7.H63 2005.

  • Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century, by Lauren Slater (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005). Call number BF198.7.S57 2005.

You can also search for books or journal articles about the person who conducted the experiment. You might be able to find information about the person (biography), or something he or she wrote. Here are some good resources:

  • Biographical Dictionary of Psychology, by Neil Sheehy (New York: Routledge, 1997). Call number REF BF109.A1B56 1997).

  • Encyclopedia of Psychology (8 volumes), by Alan Kazdin (Washington, DC: APA, 2000). Call number REF BF31.E523 2000.

  • Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology (6 volumes), by Gregory A. Kimble (Washington, DC: APA, 1991). Call number BF109.A1P67 1991.

  • Primo, the library catalog interface. Available online. This is a searchable list of all the books in TUG. You can type in a person’s name (last name, first name) and choose the “author” search (to find books he or she wrote). Or, you can choose “subject” to find books written about that person.

  • PsycINFO, a database of articles from Psychology journals. Available online if you go to the “E-Resources List (A-Z)” on the Library’s home page.

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Writing your own tests

The Waterloo library has several books to assist you in writing your own test. They are available from the library catalogue if you do a basic search in subject with the terms psychological test. Remember you can sort the results according to date published.

Some introductory books include:

You can find other books in the library catalog, OMNI by searching for keywords like:

  • "Methodology"

  • "Research"

  • "Qualitative"

  • "Quantitative"

  • "Social surveys"

  • "Questionnaires"

  • "Interviewing"

  • "Experiments" OR "Experimental design"

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