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Frequently Asked Questions

Online testing and reports

How long does it take to complete the online version of the Self-Directed Search?
The SDS is made up of five different sections and takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Is my personal information secure?
Absolutely. We will not sell or rent your personal information (e.g., email address) to anyone.
Are my results confidential?
Yes, all results are completely confidential. You can enter whatever name, nickname, initials, or personal identifier you choose on the demographic data screen prior to the assessment. The personal identifier you provide will appear on your report.
How secure is my credit card information?
All credit card information is encrypted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for the highest browser security available. After your credit card purchase has been approved, you will be connected to the report generation section of the SDS site. This section does not require a secure connection because your credit card information will have already been processed. If your screen displays a message letting you know that you are entering a non-secure site, simply click on “Yes” to proceed.
What do I do if I experience any technical problem with the site?
In the unlikely event that you have any technical problems with this site, please email our Technical Support Department for assistance.
How can I arrange to have a group or class take the SDS?
Visit our pricing page for information about making prepaid group arrangements.
What are career clusters?
There are 16 career lusters that map onto the six RIASEC types. They provide information about areas of focus within that type. Training in one of the career clusters allows you to prepare for multiple career pathways.
What is the SDS Report?
The SDS Report is a customized Web-based report that displays your SDS results. One of three different types of reports is generated based on the user’s information—a StandardSDS Report, a StudentSDS Report, or a VeteranSDS Report. All enable you to more quickly and easily navigate the various sections of the report and are customized to your life experience and job history. Choosing to view your results this way does not mean you can’t access your SDS Summary Report—in fact, a link to your Summary Report is available in the upper right portion of the report. Access to the summary report never expires.
Is the SDS Report compatible with accessibility software?
Yes. The assessment and reports are designed to work with accessibility software. For technical assistance, please call Customer Support at 1.866.727.2884.

Other SDS formats

Is there a paper-and-pencil version?
Yes. The same results can be obtained by having the user complete the paper-and-pencil StandardSDS Assessment Booklet and use the accompanying Occupations Finder and SDS Educational Opportunities Finder to locate occupations and programs of study that correspond to his or her Summary Code. Visit the SDS products page to learn more or order.
Is the SDS available on PARiConnect?
Yes. The SDS Form R, 5th Edition is available on PARiConnect, our online assessment platform. Visit PARiConnect and log in to your PARiConnect account to purchase.
Is the SDS available in other languages?
The SDS Form R, 5th Edition is available in Spanish. SDS 4th Edition forms are available in Spanish and English Canadian— plus, the SDS has been translated into more than 30 additional languages.

General SDS information

What is the qualification level for the SDS? Is any special training required to use it?
The qualification level for the SDS is A. There are no restrictions on who can purchase, take, and use the test, and no special training is required to interpret the results. This is true regardless of whether the test is completed online (using the link above) or in paper-and-pencil format.
What ages can the SDS be used with?
The SDS is suitable for individuals 11 years and older.
What is the reading level of the items?
Individuals with a middle school or high school education level should have little or no difficulty completing the SDS. It is written at a seventh-grade reading level.
What is RIASEC?
RIASEC is an acronym that stands for Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional—the six types of personalities and occupations that the SDS classifies examinees into. When an individual takes the SDS, he or she receives a two- or three-letter Summary Code (depending on age) that represents the types he or she typifies best.
Is it possible to get a code that doesn’t correspond with any job options?

People with rare or uncommon codes may display combinations of traits and personality characteristics that are not typically associated with one another. Such combinations of interests and traits may require compromises in interests, activities, and goals as a part of educational and career planning. These individuals may also choose to focus on one high-point code in their paid employment while using other life activities to express their other code(s). For example, a person with a CS code might pursue a career in accounting, but express his or her social side by singing in a community chorus.

Several strategies can help with the interpretation of rare codes. First, the user should look at occupations using only one or two letters of the code. Second, consider the fourth letter if its scores is eight or fewer points from that of the third letter. Finally, the user should examine options using the code of their daydream occupation or the Aspirations Summary Code. The SDS Report generates these automatically.

How reliable and valid are the Summary Codes? What type of standardization sample was used?

The SDS standardization sample consisted of 1,739 individuals ranging in age from 11 to 70 years. The sample was well-matched to U.S. population parameters for gender, race/ethnicity, education, and geographic region. For more information about the reliability and validity of the SDS, visit the SDS product page.

Several strategies can help with the interpretation of rare codes. First, the user should look at occupations using only one or two letters of the code. Second, consider the fourth letter if its scores is eight or fewer points from that of the third letter. Finally, the user should examine options using the code of their daydream occupation or the Aspirations Summary Code. The SDS Report generates these automatically.

When was the SDS developed?

The SDS was originally published in 1970 by John Holland, PhD, but has undergone five revisions since, the most recent in 2017. Note that for the most recent revision, no new data were collected, so it can be used interchangeably with the Form R, 5th Edition published in 2013.

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