The HAB consult


Set your compass with HAB

The Highland Abilities Battery is a sophisticated online Abilities assessment that measures aptitude that stabilizes by 14 years. It is a transformative, scientifically-backed test that helps students understand the patterns and learning styles that best define them. This understanding proves extremely valuable in picking the right course/major and the university. While the test doesn’t spit out the answers about what a student should do or not do, it helps them understand what comes naturally to them and in which areas they are swimming against the tide. 

As a certified HAB consult, the HAB is only recommended to students when deemed necessary post the initial Individual Consult.

How are abilities assessed? 
Unlike tests of skills, personality, interests, or values – all of which are influenced by changes over time – abilities are assessed through the actual performance of tasks which measure how easily you can perform those tasks. HAB work samples require the test-taker to follow instructions on the computer screen (reproduced in audio) and then to “do” or “recognize” something in response. The HAB takes 3.5 hours to complete and can be taken anywhere there is a reliable Internet connection.

What abilities does the HAB measure?
The HAB measures 14 abilities, three personal style dimensions, and one skill.

The abilities

  • Diagnostic thinking
    is an aptitude for recognizing a common relationship among seemingly discrete or unrelated notions or ideas. Strong diagnostic thinkers typically perform well when a premium is placed on rapidly identifying solutions or understanding complex problems often found in medical, legal, and consulting fields.
  • Analytical thinking
    is an aptitude to recognize structure among related ideas. People with strong analytical ability gravitate towards the logical sequencing of facts, events, or processes often found in engineering, computer programming, accounting, finance, and editing.
  • Idea productivity
    is the rate at which a person offers ideas; a measure of the quantity of ideas, not their quality. In addition to roles within fields such as advertising, marketing, and writing, the ability enhances persuading, selling, and communication.
  • Spatial relations theory
    is the ability to understand the theoretical underpinnings or the interconnectedness of mechanical or interpersonal systems.
  • Spatial relations visualization
    or structural visualization is the ability to perceive objects in three dimensions. People strong in this ability need a connection to the hands-on or concrete world often found in mechanical, dental, scientific, engineering, architectural and artistic fields.
  • Observation
    is the ability to recall objects and changes in a person’s field of vision.
  • Design memory
  • is the ability to visualize, recall, and expand on a two-dimensional graphic or design; useful in fields such as biology, architecture, fashion, and art history.
  • Verbal memory
    is the ability to remember material presented in written form and to associate words or terms that relate to each other.
  • Tonal memory
    is the ability to remember and differentiate between musical tones; the memory for melodies and harmonies; a measure of the ability to learn by listening.
  • Rhythm memory
    is the ability to perceive and remember rhythmic patterns and actions; it relates to the process of learning through movement (kinesthetic).
  • Pitch Discrimination
    is the ability to perceive and identify minute differences in sounds on a tonal scale; it relates to the ability to detect nuanced differences in taste, touch, and the other senses.
  • Number memory
    is the ability to remember non-associated numbers. The student sees multi-digit numbers and is asked to reproduce them. This is a valuable ability in inventory control, stock trading, and retail sales.
  • Visual speed and visual accuracy
    are the speed and accuracy with which one sees and processes numbers, letters, and symbols.

The three personal style dimensions the HAB measures influence a person’s response to other people and the optimal work environment.

The three personal style dimensions

  • The generalist/specialist scale, where generalists are group workers and have an easy time working through and with other people; specialists prefer to contribute independently and to develop “their own thing”
  • The extrovert/introvert scale where extroverts are energized by others, think out loud, and need people to work with and talk to, and introverts are self-energized, reflective thinkers and work well quietly on their own.
  • Time frame orientation measures how far out into the future a person prefers to set and work toward targets. This orientation can influence the length of time a person expects to achieve goals, such as the difference between project work and strategic planning.

The one skill

Vocabulary measures the linguistic level at which a person expresses thoughts and concepts to others – a vital predictor of success and performance levels at work.


Students grow and change over time. Do their abilities change as they grow?
No, abilities, as we define them, are stable and develop naturally by the age of 14 or 15. At that point, they remain essentially unchanged, throughout the rest of life. Skills can be added but natural abilities are constant.

What factors are not measured by the HAB?
The HAB does not result in grades, and they do not reflect class standing or general intelligence. Instead, abilities assessments are designed to get at the students’ core strengths and help them translate those strengths in their higher education and careers.

When should a high school student complete the HAB?
Scientists have determined that a child’s natural abilities mature and are ready to be tested at any time after the age of about fourteen. The sooner after that age your child is tested, the sooner they can take advantage of the insights the test provides into good study and learning habits, as well as into the selection of the right college and career.

The HAB sounds complex and the results hard to understand. How do you help my child to know what the results mean?
Your child gets a detailed set of reports that include a bar chart and a discussion of the test results. What sets the HAB apart from other ability assessors is the personalized consult with a Certified Highlands Consultant. Over 300 professionals have received 40+ hours of training directly from The Highlands Company to interpret the report and provide personalized feedback. You can find a consultant who specializes in working with students at

Do the results of an abilities assessment help the student define the ideal college learning environment?
Yes. A college’s learning environment is determined by its size, the size of its classes, the faculty to student ratio, housing arrangements, eating arrangements, etc. Most critical is the college’s commitment to a particular program of study, the breadth or specificity of offerings, and the options available through campus student services that will best support your student’s learning. The HAB reveals how your child learns best, which helps direct your child to the right school and learning environment.

How does an abilities assessment help choose between a liberal arts college and an engineering school?
A student who knows his or her own strengths is miles ahead of a student who doesn’t. Several abilities measured on the HAB form patterns indicate whether a student will be happier in liberal arts or engineering. An engineer should ideally be strong in analytical thinking, spatial visualization, observation, and design memory. On the other hand, the ideal pre-law student will probably also score in the high range in diagnostic thinking, analytical thinking, and time frame, and cut low in spatial relations visualization. High scores in vocabulary also suggest success in law, medicine, editing, and entrepreneurship.

My child is a good overall student, but she feels that she has no unique talents. Would an ability assessment help her get a better sense of direction?
Yes. An abilities assessment combined with student-specific feedback is important to students without identifiable unique talents. An abilities assessment and interpretation by a trained consultant will go far in telling them how they solve problems, how they learn best, what work environment is right for them, whether they have measurable musical talent, and how they relate to and are perceived by others. 

Will an abilities assessment help my child to study better?
Yes. One of the strengths of the HAB is that it tests the five prime learning channels – verbal memory, tonal memory, design memory, number memory, and rhythm memory. In the HAB report, we include a chart showing the student’s relative strength in all five learning channels, which will show him how he best learns and what tools to rely on going forward.

How can I confirm that the results of the HAB are valid and reliable?
Psychometric tests are expected to satisfy the tests of reliability and validity. Reliability is the degree to which a test will remain consistent in its results over a period of time. Validity is a measure of the certainty or confidence with which we can ascribe a contextual significance to any score on a test. You can find reliability and validity research reports on our website at

My child suffers from low self-esteem. Is there a risk that he will fail the Highlands assessment of abilities?
No, it is impossible to fail the HAB. We do not grade anything. We simply measure how well the child can perform each work sample. Our aim is to identify a child’s strengths. For example, if she does well in diagnostic thinking, she shows the strengths typical of lawyers. If she does well in spatial visualization, she will do well to consider a career in engineering or medicine. The point is that our abilities testing is never judgmental. It simply confirms your child’s abilities and gives her the confidence to describe them in her college application.