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Published: July 4, 2017
Eric Mason

Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey

Eric K. Mason

General Information

Test: Career Orientation Placement and Evaluation Survey (COPES)

Authors: Lisa Knapp-Lee, Robert R. Knapp, and Lila F. Knapp

This version of the COPES was published in 1995 and its manual in 1996 by EdITS (Educational and Industrial Testing Service).  The self-interpretation profile and guide was published in 1995 by EdITS, as well.  The examiner did not require any supplementary materials for the test administration, though they are available at

The test is also available for purchase at this site.  A minimum of 25 tests, as well as 25 self-interpretation profile and guides (on which the test is scored) are available for purchase at a cost of approximately 30 dollars (including shipping).  The test manual costs $3.75 (, accessed March 2007)

The COPES may be scored by machine or by hand.  In this case, the examiner scored the test by hand.  Machine scoring costs $1.80.  More information on machine scoring may be obtained from the aforementioned website (, accessed March 2007).

Description of Purpose and Nature of Test

The COPES is a measurement of personal values as they relate to occupational preferences.  In other words, its purpose is to help individuals become more aware of their personal values, so that they may explore which types of occupations are an appropriate fit for their set of values.  If a person is matched with a job that suits his or her personal values, then he or she is more likely to be happier and lead a more productive and fulfilling career.  Such personal values that relate to occupational preferences are also known as work values, work needs, or work satisfactions.  In general, personal values are a part of the personality domain (Knapp-Lee, 1996).

Although the norm group for the COPES consists of students from grades seven through 12, it is appropriate for use with college students and adults, in addition to middle and high school students.  The COPES was not designed for those with disabilities, though making some accommodations for such individuals would be easy in many instances.  Overall, the COPES is useful for all people interested in exploring their values in order to gain satisfying employment (Knapp-Lee, 1996)

The COPES organizes these work/personal values into eight types.  Each type is comprised of two values that are at either end of the spectrum for that particular value type.  In all, there are, therefore, 16 different values described.  For example, instigative vs. accepting is one value type described by the COPES.  The COPES describes investigative and accepting values as being at opposite ends of the same vale type.  People who are inquisitive and like to find new solutions to existing problems will likely score towards the investigative end of this value type.  Those who follow directions and like to use existing solutions to solve problems will score towards the accepting end of this value type, according to the COPES (Knapp-Lee, 1996).

The remaining value types are as follows: practical vs. carefree, independence vs. conformity, leadership vs. supportive, orderliness vs. flexibility, recognition vs. privacy, aesthetic vs. realistic, social vs. reserved. Examiners may choose to use the COPES with the CAPS and COPS in order to gain a more thorough picture of a client’s occupational preferences (EdITS, 1995).  Knapp, Knapp and Knapp-Lee refer to this three-combination test as the COPSystem (1985).   More information on the COPSystem is available at the website mentioned above.

The COPES test consists of 128 questions.  The test participants must indicate their answers by marking in a small rectangular box with a pencil.  Each question has two answers (a or b).  Each answer is the second part to the following statement: “I value activities or jobs in which (I)….”   For example, “I value activities or jobs in which (I)…” (a) “must not work too hard” or (b) “work on difficult and challenging tasks everyday (Knapp-Lee, 1996).”

The COPES is designed for self-administration.  The examinees read each question silently to themselves and answer appropriately in a self-paced fashion.  However, for examinees with disabilities, the examiner may read each question and/or mark the appropriate answer as indicated by the examinee.  Examiners may administer the test individually or to groups.  If the examiner is administering the COPES to someone who requires help with reading and/or marking the appropriate answers it may be more appropriate to administer the COPES, in such a case, individually.  Examiners read the directions aloud to the examinees before beginning the test (Knapp-Lee, 1996).

Practical Evaluation

The COPES is a relatively simple test to administer.  Most examinees would easily understand the directions, since there are no right or wrong answers.  In other words, examinees are simply asked to mark with which statement (out of two) they most agree.

The font size on the test is somewhat small; therefore, it may become difficult to read for those who wear glasses.  In addition, it appears that the test is printed in read or pink, which some examinees may find hard to read, as well (Knapp-Lee, 1996)  For example, the examiner (the author of this paper) wears corrective lenses and found the type a little too small.  Furthermore the examiner is also red-green color blind and has some difficulty reading red or green type on white paper.  This combination of red print and small type may present itself as a problem to many males taking the COPES, as a large percentage of the male population is red-green color blind.

Scoring the test is a very simple process, which only requires basic addition.  The self-interpretation profile and guide (on which the test scores are recorded) clearly states how the scoring procedure should be completed.  Those holding a BA/BS, who have taken some college-level counseling or mental health courses, may administer the COPES. However, doctoral level credentials are required to purchase the test.  Information on training in the administration of the test, as well as purchasing information is available on the website above (, accessed March 2007).

In order to establish rapport, the COPES manual recommends that the examiner explain the purpose of the test to the examinee.  For example, the examiner should explain that the test is designed to help individuals gain a better understanding of their values and how these values relate to particular occupations.  The examiner could also explain that when a person’s values and his or her occupation are congruent with one another, the person will probably lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life. It is my belief that the examiner should also note that there are no right or wrong answers on the test, so the examinee should not be anxious regarding the results of the test (Knapp-Lee, 1996).  Test anxiety has been shown to skew the interpretation of test results (Maxmen & Ward, 1995).  The COPES manual suggest giving the examinees a handout to read before they begin the COPES (available at the website above).  This handout explains the test and how the results will help the individual determine which types of occupation my suit him or her (Knapp-Lee, 1996).

Face validity is also helpful in establishing rapport between the examiner and the examinee.  Powers defines face validity as the test looking like it measures what it claims to measure.  Although face validity is a crude measure of validity, it is helpful in that it allows an examinee to select an appropriate test for a particular examinee (Power, 2006).  After reviewing the COPES, I found it to have high face validity and suitable for the examinee.

Technical Evaluation

Choosing a test with high construct validity is important, as well.  Construct validity “refers to the degree to which a test measures any hypothetical construct (Power, 2006).”  Construct validity in regards to the COPES would mean that it actually measures one’s works values (the hypothetical construct).  According to Knapp, Knapp, and Knapp-Lee, the COPES demonstrates construct validity in that it significantly correlates with others test that are designed to measure work values (1985).  For example, the COPES scores on Investigative values correlate with the Guilford’s Liking for Thinking (r = .40) and Allport-Vernon’s Theoretical ( r = .33); COPES scores on Independence values correlate with Guilford’s Need for Freedom ( r = .44), Leadership values with Guilford’s Self-Reliance (r = .40), Recognition values with Guilford’s Need for Attention (r = .44), Aesthetic values with Guilford’s Aesthetic Appreciation ( r = .60) and the Allport-Vernon Aesthetic Scale (r = .52); COPES scores on Social values with the Allport-Vernon Social (r = .41).  The COPES correlates with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator across the respective values, as well (Knapp-Lee, 1996).  Although the correlations above may be moderate, other differences between these test my account for such midrange correlations (Silverlake, 1999).

The COPES shows predictive validity in another validity study.  For example, Knapp, Knapp, and Knapp-Lee have found that high school students tend to enter into academic programs that would ultimately allow them to express their work values as predicted by the COPES (1985).  In fact, one study demonstrated that out of 1,091 high school students 60% of them, who had taken the COPES before attending college, were enrolled in academic programs that were consistent with their work values as revealed by the COPES (Knapp, Knapp & Knapp-Lee, 1985).

The norm group for the COPES consists of 3,211 students from grades seven through 12.  Knapp, Knapp and Knapp-Lee have suggested that the COPES is helpful for students in determining their course of study beyond high school in that it allows them to become aware of how their work values mesh with certain occupations; thus, allowing students to pick a course of study that would allow them to enter into occupations that they will find satisfying and rewarding (1985).

In terms of reliability, alpha reliability was used in two samples to determine the internal consistency of the COPES.  Alpha reliability coefficients ranged from .70 to .83.  Powers states that reliability coefficients of .80 to 1.00 are considered very high, while those ranging from .60 to .70 are substantial (2006).  Therefore, the COPES has demonstrated that it is a reliable test.

Reviewer Comments

I believe that the COPES is accurate in evaluating one’s work values.  However, it is my contention that the COPES may tend to actually measure the cultural and gender values prescribed to the individual by the society or culture in which the person lives or is indoctrinated.  In other words, an examinee’s answers may simply be a reflection of societal attitudes, in regards to work preferences.  For example, women may tend to give answers that are gender-appropriate.  In many cultures, women are suppose to be more passive and accepting.  If women from such cultures answered question according to their culturally defined roles (instead of how they truly feel), they would score low on the Investigative values and, in turn, high on the Accepting values (O’Brien & Fassinger, 1993).  On the other hand, if people are truly indoctrinated into their respective culture, then their culture’s values often become their own values.  Therefore, I do not believe that this presents a significant problem for the COPES.

People with disabilities would find the COPES as helpful as those without disabilities.  Many disabled individuals could use the COPES with no accommodations.  For example, people with spinal cord injuries and amputees would be able to use the COPES with no accommodations.  As long as the disabled person can read and has at least one good hand to mark his or her answer, no accommodations would be necessary.

For those with other disabilities, such as blindness or a reading disability, each question and its answers could be read aloud and marked by the examiner.  If an individual did not have use of his hands, but could read, the examiner could mark the answers as indicated by the client verbally answering “a” or “b” aloud.  If accommodations were necessary for a person, the test should be administered individually.  Reading the copes aloud and/or marking the answers for a disabled client would probably have a minimal effect on the results of the COPES, as long as the examiner was appropriately trained to administer the test and, in addition, had experience working with individuals with that particular disability.

The COPES could be used with people with a history of substance abuse, as long as they were no longer using.  For those who are still using drugs, I do not believe determining their work values would be very helpful, as their priority should be to get clean.  Understanding one’s work values is a luxury, and useful when one is thinking clearly.  Those battling addiction need not be concerned with such a luxury, in my opinion.

The COPES may be less useful for those from other cultures.  The values measured in the COPES are definitely “American values” in that they are the values Americans consider important and relevant to occupational satisfaction.  Personally, I would not feel comfortable administering the COPES to someone who had not grown up in the U.S., as I would consider the results somewhat useless.

After administering the COPES to the examinee, I also took the test.  Although I was already aware of my work values, I felt that the COPES was effective in revealing them to me.  However, if one is already aware of one’s values, it would be easy to answer each one of the COPES according to one’s preconceived concept of one’s self.  In other words, each question on the COPES is relatively obvious as to what they are evaluating about the examinee’s personality and work values.  Therefore, it would be simple for an examinee of average intelligence to manipulate the results of the test.  Perhaps, I was more insightful into the COPES than the average examinee would be, since I had already read the manual for the COPES and, therefore, had more “inside information” about the COPES than an examinee would typically have.

Summary Evaluation

The COPES is a useful tool in helping people to understand their work values better, so that they may pursue rewarding careers.  It is probably most helpful for high school and college students who have not yet decided upon a course of study in college.  Such students may not be aware of their work values, as they have little experience in the “working world.”  Becoming aware of their work values would allow them to pick a major in college that would be in line with their work values and personality (Knapp-Lee, 1996).

In addition to students, the COPES would also be useful for adults who are already in the “working world,” unemployed, or interested in a career change.  Physically disabled individuals would find the COPES as useful as able-bodied people.  However, the COPES may not be appropriate for those with severe mental disabilities, since pursuing a satisfying and rewarding career may be more of a luxury for those who have the mental capacities to adapt to various working conditions.  People with severe mental disabilities simply may not have the intellectual capacities to pursue various occupations that they would find satisfying.  Frankly, such individuals may have to settle for which ever job their mental capacities will allow them to perform.

Although individuals who have recovered from substance addictions would find the COPES as useful as someone who had never had addiction problems, I do not believe it is appropriate for those currently battling serious addictions.  The first priority of those who are currently addicted to drugs would be to stop using drugs.  Thereafter, the COPES would help such individuals to gain insight into their work values, as well.

The COPES is very easy to administer and quickly completed.  The directions for administration and scoring are thoroughly explained by the COPES’ manual.  Furthermore, examinees have the option to score and interpret their own results.  The test is inexpensive, has a very helpful website, and has proven predictive validity and reliability.  For rehabilitation purposes, the test would be helpful in assisting individuals, who have recently become disabled and are returning to the workforce, to gain meaningful employment; however, as stated above, it may not be appropriate for those with mental disabilities (i.e., traumatic brain injuries).  Lastly, an examiner may easily accommodate those with physical disabilities when using the COPES.

On the downside, the COPES was not normed for adults or those with disabilities and substance abuse problems.  In addition, the test is subject to manipulation, as it is quite obvious as to what it is evaluating.  Much of the validity for the COPES was reported as correlations with other similar tests, which only proves that it measures what the other tests are measuring (Knapp-Lee, 1996).  If those other tests are invalid, then the COPES may also be invalid.  Nevertheless, I believe the predictive validity study mentioned above is sufficient in proving the validity of the COPES (Knapp, Knapp & Knapp-Lee, 1985).

In conclusion, I recommend using the COPES in order to help people gain fulfilling employment.  A rewarding occupation is very important for good mental health in our contemporary society.  As people spend the majority of each day engaged in their occupation, it is a key ingredient for one’s happiness (Knapp-Lee, 1996).





(See attached document)

  1. Copy of Catalogue from test publisher.





















EdITS Online. (2007, March). Available:

Educational Research and Services (1995).  Self-interpretation profile and guide. San Diego: EdITS Publishing.


Knapp-Lee, L. (1996). COPES Examiners Manual. San Diego: EdITS Publishing.


Knapp, R. R., & Knapp, L., & Knapp-Lee, L. (1985). Occupational interest measurement and subsequent career decisions: A predictive follow-up study of the copssystem interest inventory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 32, 348-354.


Maxem, J. S., & Ward, N. G. (1995). Essential psychopathology and its treatment. (2nd.). New York: W.W. Norton and Company.


O’Brien, K. M., & Fassinger, R. E. (1993). A causal model of the career orientation and career choice of adolescent women. Journal of Counseling Psychology 40, 456-469.



Powers, P.W. (2006). A guide to vocational assessment (4th ed.). Austin: Pro-Ed, Inc.


Silverlake, A. C. (1999). Comprehending test manuals: A guide and workbook. Los Angeles: Pyrczak Publishing.





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