• According to oxford dictionary, ‘Aptitude’ is the natural ability to do something, a natural tendency. ‘Natural’ here refers more towards the sum total of experiences that a person has had rather than simply meaning ‘by-birth’. A person with an aptitude for boxing, if given necessary training, can develop the ability to a great extent. On the other hand, if a person has no aptitude for boxing, no amount of training can bring about any appreciable change in his performance.
  • Aptitude is the combination of abilities and other characteristics, whether native or acquired, known to be indicative of an individual’s ability to develop proficiency in certain particular area. It refers to the capacity or ability to acquire skill or knowledge in a particular area, on basis of which future performances can be predicted.
  • As per the Encyclopedia of Educational Research (1960), an aptitude may be defined as ‘a person’s capacity or hypothetical potential, for acquisition of a certain more or less well defined patterns or behavior involved in the performance of a task with respect to which the individual has had little or no previous training’. To put it simply, Aptitude is a group of characteristics deemed to be symptomatic of an individual’s ability to acquire proficiency in a given area. It thus has a futuristic reference.
  • Skill, on the other hand, is acquired through training. Aptitude is not skill. Skill is acquired and constantly upgraded through training and learning. Aptitude is what is there, but could be nurtured.
  • As explained in the opening section, aptitude is neither completely innate nor completely acquired. It is to some extent an inborn endowment but it also is a product of interaction between innate & environmental conditions. The endowment of aptitude varies from person to person.
  • Everyone has some aptitude for a particular task; however people simply differ in the degree to which they possess the aptitude for the particular task. For example, many would like to become officers of the Armed Forces, but only a few get through. One, among many, factors is that their aptitude for service in the armed forces is adjudged lesser as compared to others based on predetermined set of qualities which the SSB (Service Selection Board) looks for in candidates.
  • Aptitude is not merely a preference which someone shows. It is the possession of certain qualities that will help someone perform better in a task than others.
  • To become an officer in defence or police services, you need to have both physical and mental aptitude; for being a good sportsman one needs aptitude of psycho-motor coordination. Problem arises when one is in a profession not suited by his/her aptitude. A person becoming a cricketer because his father was a great may not be able to deliver best results unless he himself has the aptitude required for the sport. Remember carefully – aptitude looks at the future potential. It, however, is the present condition – a pattern of traits which are there presently and are deemed to be indicative of potentialities



Attitude Aptitude
  • It is your positive/negative feeling towards a person, object, event, idea, and environment.
  • Derived from Latin Word “Aptus” meaning fitness or adeptness
  • It is innate, inborn potential. But not cast in stone . Therefore It can be from nature and it can be nurtured.
It is associated with character It is associated with competence.
  • It determines how people arrive at correct judgment, how they’ll perform a given task?
  • For example :  If an officer has negative attitude towards minorities, he may delay passing their scholarship files , processing their files etc.
  • It determines whether Person will develop the skills to perform a particular task or not?

Examples of attitudes

  • Cautious
  • Confidence
  • Tolerant
  • Responsible
  • Pessimism

Examples of aptitude

  • Reasoning aptitude
  • Quantitative aptitude
  • Finger dexterity
  • Verbal aptitude
  • Visual memory
  • It is only mental.
  • For example: Surviving a terminal disease depends on your attitude towards life rather than ‘aptitude’ in physical training.

It is both physical and mental. E.g.

  • To become an officer in army or police services, you need to have both physical and mental aptitude.
  • Aptitude of hand and eye coordination is needed to become a good cricketer.
  • In India, most people pickup profession without seeing whether they’ve the ‘aptitude’ for it or not?
  • They choose a profession by change and not by choice.
  • So, they make a living from their career, but don’t derive job-satisfaction from it e.g. Most Engineers and IT graduates.

A Civil servant must have 3 aptitudes

  1. Emotional aptitude.
  2. Intellectual aptitude
  3. Moral aptitude.

( Detailed discussion below )





Aptitude is generally categorized as physical or mental.

  • Physical aptitude means the physical characteristics for performing some task successfully. For example, armed forces require a specific set physical features, like height, strength etc.
  • Mental aptitude means certain specific set of mental qualities needed to perform some tasks successfully. This is further characterized as general mental ability and value orientation. The former implies an ability to think rationally, while the latter also includes certain value based behavior, like the one guided by empathy, compassion, integrity, accountability, responsibility etc.

This difference can be understood with some examples. For example, a banker should have the ability to deal in numbers, while an effective leader is one who is empathetic and honest. A thief, on the other hand, probably needs to be a good liar



Some experts believe that civil servants must have three kinds of aptitude: Intellectual, Emotional, and Moral. These aptitudes make the civil servant capable of acquiring professional values.

  • Intellectual Aptitude would ensure that respective civil servant would think rationally, act purposely and deal effectively with his environment. Thus, it can be regarded as means oriented
  • Emotional Aptitude would ensure his effective conduct with colleagues, subordinate and public at large. Thus, it may be regarded as the behavior oriented aptitude.
  • Moral Aptitude includes the desirable values, like justice, empathy, compassion etc. This is also called as Foundational Values for Civil Services and would ensure that civil servants perform their duties not only efficiently but also effectively, upholding public interest. Thus, it may be regarded as end-oriented aptitude.



  • Ability is things you can do. e.g. “I can do addition, subtraction, division and multiplication”.
  • Ability + Practice = Skill.
  • All of us can drive. But we’re not skilled drivers like Michael Schumacher.
  • Same way you’ve basic “ability” to do 4 fundamental operations of mathematics- if you practice long enough you’ll be skilled at Maths and Data interpretation portion of the CSAT exam.
  • Later, if you teach multiple batches, you’ll become a “skilled trainer/faculty” for CSAT coaching classes.
  • Thus, skill is the proficiency you gained with repeated activity and practise .
  • Things you can do in future, if you were trained.
  • Clearing UPSC with high rank certifies that you’ve “aptitude” to be an IAS/IPS/IRS.
  • Later you’re trained at LBSNAA and at District so you gain new skills and abilities to perform the duties as an assistant collector/SP.
  • Time + Effort = Learning => Learning helps gaining aptitude for doing new things.
Intelligence Aptitude is not same as intelligence. Two people with same intelligence quotation (IQ),  may have different aptitudes e.g. one to become scientist and another pianist.
Interest Things you’ll do without your skill/aptitude. E.g. every teenager is interested to become Sachin, Shahrukh or the singer.


A) Aptitude and Interest

  • People have interests in many things, but this does not imply they have the aptitude for that. One may like cricket very much – but playing it on field is much different that a watching it on television.
  • One may have the aptitude for good commentary or writing skills and then one may choose a profession where his/her interests and aptitude match- such as becoming a commentator or a sports journalist

B) Aptitude & Ability

  • Aptitude is often considered to represent specific subsets of mental ability which provides useful information on an individual’s potential, particularly with regards to education and employment.
  • Ability is much closer to intelligence. It is concerned with present. It is the combination of skills, habits and powers that an individual now has which enable him to do something.
  • Aptitude indicates what an individual will be able to learn/do and ability presents evidence of what the individual is able to do now (or in future without additional training).
  • From a practical standpoint, it is impossible to measure aptitude without the degree of training which an individual has already had. It is assumed that individuals have been exposed to certain experiences which enhance their aptitude when it is measured.

C) Aptitude and Intelligence

  • Aptitude is innate potential to do certain task in future, provided appropriate training is provided to the person.
  • Intelligence’s key component is the ability to think rationally, act purposefully and deal effectively in one’s present environment. Intelligence has a wider scope as in it refers to general mental ability.
  • Aptitude on the other hand has narrow scope- it is specific to work. It breaks down intelligence into several characteristics, referring to a specific ability of a person to do a task in future.
  • Thus, aptitude is not same as intelligence. Two people with same intelligence quotation (IQ) may have different aptitudes e.g. one to become scientist and another novelist

D) Aptitude and Values

  • Values are different from aptitude in that, value denotes the degree of importance of some thing or action, with the aim of determining what actions are best to do or what way is best to live.
  • Though values may be “positive” or “negative”, like empathy towards weaker section is positive while regarding one’s own caste to be highest is negative. But generally, they are taken for positive and desirable values.
  • Thus, they deal with right conduct and living a good life, in the sense that a highly, or at least relatively highly, valuable action may be regarded as ethically “good”, and an action of low in value, or somewhat relatively low in value, may be regarded as “bad”.
  • Hence, values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect a person’s sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. “Equal rights for all”, “Excellence deserves admiration”, and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behavior.
  • Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. In the next section we will discuss “Foundational Values for Civil Services.”


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