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Student SDS®

Student Self-Directed Search®

John L. Holland, PhD, and Melissa A. Messer, MHS

Helps students explore interests for educational and career planning
Paper and pencil, Online
Grade range:
Grade 6 to Grade 12
25-35 minutes
Qualification level:
No special qualifications are required, although the range of products eligible for purchase is limited. Close

The StudentSDS is a career assessment and exploration tool designed and tailored specifically to middle school, junior high, and high school students.

A revision of the SDS Career Explorer (CE), the Student SDS is based on data collected for the SDS Form R, 5th Edition (2013). The new StudentSDS allows students to learn about programs of study and careers that best match their personalities. 

Watch this video to learn how
the SDS can help you
explore educational
and career options.

Features and benefits

  • Includes activities for classroom use. 
  • Captures students' personalities, skills, and interests. 
  • Guides students as they explore occupations and programs of study that might best suit them and lead to job satisfaction.
  • Includes a Professional Manual with Teacher's Guide to assist practitioners with administration, scoring, and interpretation.
  • Developed using the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model and aligns with eight Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) Quality Indicators: self-awareness, career awareness, postsecondary aspirations, postsecondary options, environmental expectations, academic planning, employability skills, and financial literacy.
  • Online administration and scoring and new interactive digital reports (see sample reports under "Resources" tab) are available via the mobile-friendly Self-Directed Search website, which generates a fully customized report that allows users to sort, filter, and print results.

Test structure

  • Includes an assessment booklet that asks students about their occupational daydreams, aspirations, activities, competencies, interest in a variety of occupations, and self-estimates and calculates a customized two-letter Summary Code based on the student's responses.
  • Features a Career Finder for students to explore occupations based on their Summary Code and an Educational Opportunities Finder for students to explore programs of study based on their Summary Code.
  • Includes a You and Your Future Workbook, which uses bold graphics and imagery designed to engage students in the career-discovery process.

Technical information

  • The StudentSDS uses a subset of data from the SDS Form R, 5th Edition (2013). It was standardized on 318 students ages 11 to 17 years.
  • Coefficients for the Activities, Competencies, and Occupations scales range from .71 to .92, and summary scale coefficients range from .88 to .93.
  • Test-retest reliability ranged from .82 to .96 on the overall sample, indicating that summary scale scores have substantial ability over time.


A presentation from NCDA 2019, Develop Your Students' Passion for Career Exploration: The StudentSDS, is  available on the "Resources" tab above.