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July 2012

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A Preview of Reflect, a Soft Skills Assessment

There are numerous soft skills assessments available today that can provide great insights for professionals, but they tend to have one thing in common: They’re hard for students to use.

Reflect, the soft skills assessment for management students coming in December from GMAC, will report its results in business language rather psychological jargon, and it will include plenty of actionable information for improvement:

  • Videos, book summaries, articles, coaching tips, and other resources for personal development
  • Concrete things you should start doing, keep doing, or stop doing
  • Job benchmarking context so students can see how their personal profiles compare with the norms of different fields and job functions

The assessment helps answer the questions: How do I understand who I am: What are my unique strengths, what can I do to capitalize on them, and what I can do to better engage with others on my team? said Andy Martelli, GMAC vice president of product development, who previewed Reflect at GMAC’s Annual Conference, held recently in Chicago.

 

Although GMAC originally pursued a soft skills assessment because business schools wanted a way to measure these skills in the admissions process, it concluded that such assessments are coachable and not appropriate for high stakes testing, he said. Reflect is being developed specifically for students to help them identify their strengths and pinpoint areas for behavior modification during business school. The assessment can also help students articulate their unique strengths and personal growth areas in the career search process and may even help them choose a business school.

With a formal soft skills assessment, students can look for programs that play to their strengths and help them work on mitigating their weaknesses. “You can use this to identify schools and programs you think will best help you grow,” Martelli said.  Once students are enrolled in a program, students and schools can use Reflect results to guide individual courses of study, and evaluate entire classes for group composition and interaction. An online test that takes about 45 minutes to complete, Reflect asks for immediate, gut-level  responses to more than  500 yes/no or true/false-type questions. The assessment, developed with Hogan Assessments, has been culturally normed in more than 40 different languages, including several versions of English, to isolate personal traits from cultural bias.

Reports give numerical rankings for 10 different competencies such as innovation, resilience, respect for people, and strategic self-awareness. No one will post high scores on all of them, as a person who rates highly on operational thinking most likely will score lower on strategic vision or innovation. Students can flag learning resources for various competencies that they can go back to at any time over a three-year period.

Each competency will also have action steps or tips that offer concrete things students can do to improve or modify their behavior around that particular competency. “It’s much more granular – the action tips make it really easy to break it down into short, pithy, memorable discrete steps.” Martelli said.

Reflect will be available on mba.com starting in December. The price has yet to be determined, but bulk discounts will be available to schools. For more information, email Reflect@gmac.com.
  

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