A self-help test is a paper- or computer-based self-assessment quiz relating to a certain problem or disease. An individual answers the questions in the test to determine whether or not it is likely that he or she has the disorder or condition. Self-help tests are not supposed to be used as a diagnostic tool, but rather to guide individuals into recognizing signs or symptoms of a condition so that he or she can seek out a professional assessment. There are many different kinds of self-help test on a wide range of mental, emotional and physical conditions.
For example, a self-assessment quiz designed to suggest whether a person could have Parkinson's disease may ask the test taker if he or she has experienced certain symptoms such as involuntary movement or tremors. Whereas one self-test for Parkinson's disease may ask the individual to rate the severity of any symptoms on a scale of 1-5, another may be structured only for "yes" and "no" answers. Self-tests end by instructing the quiz taker how to "score" the results.
The results section of health self-assessments typically includes different numerical ranges if the scoring system is based on a certain number of points per answer. For instance, if a self-help test titled "How Emotional Are You?" asks the quiz taker to count one point for every "yes" answer and two points for each "no," the resulting number will fall into a range of possible outcome scores. Depending on the exact scoring method used, the results may state that those in the lowest range likely are less emotional overall than people who scored in the mid to high ranges. There will then be some detail as to what the score may mean by making generalizations about individuals within that result range.
Since self-help tests are aimed at a wide audience, they are meant only as general indicators of a possible condition. Many people are surprised when they find that they do seem to have the symptoms of a particular condition or disease. This is the main purpose of a self-help test — to enlighten people who may have a health issue so they can seek professional guidance and a proper diagnosis. As with any form of quiz or informal self-assessment, these tests aren't foolproof and a person who has a disease or condition may not be indicated as such, or the results may suggest a false positive for an illness. This is why taking different self-help tests on the same subject is often recommended.