This is actually a very interesting question since we need to look at this from at least two standpoints: the ability for an aptitude test accurately predict if the test taker is suited to leaning the skill set and the ability for such tests to accurately predict employee performance.
With regards to the use of such tests to predict academic success (i.e. leaning the skill set), it appears that IBM lead the way in this department with their development of the IBM Programmer Aptitude Test (PAT)1, 2, 3 in the 1960's. However, in 1980 a study was published that followed 2,000 students, 1,350 of whom finished and concluded that,
The results indicate that future programming skill is not predictable
by the most commonly used written test (IBM's Programming Aptitude
Test). The suggestion is that this type of test should not be
administered to college level people as the results are unreliable.
In 1984 another study was published that examined the more traditional means of student section to programs (e.g. SAT scores, class rank, high school courses, etc.) which found that there was a positive correlation between these variables and academic success. However, it is important to note that in this situation a aptitude test specific to programming was not administered though. In fact, a 2010 survey paper concluded that, with regards to aptitude tests predicting academic success,
Aptitude tests are not reliable predictors of success, and have not
identified any cognitive capacity which is especially significant for
learning to program. Evidence relating to predictors such as
educational or demographic background, cognitive development or style,
or a range of other factors, is also ambiguous or weak. On balance
some factors (such as mathematical background/ability, or self-ratings
of confidence/comfort as the course progresses) emerge as moderately
correlated with success.
The apparent working draft Dehnadi and Bornat paper that was referred to by the articles (1, 2) in the question had it's hypothesis rejected by another paper and in fact the Dehnadi and Bornat later presented (direct link) revised findings where the concluded that their orginal working paper was incorrect, concluding,
We cannot claim to be separating the programming goats from the
non-programming sheep: experiment 3 demolishes the notion that
consistent subjects will for the most part learn well, and others for
the most part won't. And even in the most encouraging of our results,
we find a 50% success rate in those who don't score C0 or CM2.
None the less, some of our results indicate that there may be something
going on with consistency. There is a case for continuing our
So with regards to aptitude tests indicating academic success, there doesn't appear to be strong evidence that programming aptitude tests are useful.
This brings us to the question of the use of aptitude tests as a prediction of employee success. For the purposes of this answer, I'm going to assume that you are not referring to tests such as the Oracle Certification Program which tests candidates on a specific topic, but rather more generic ones such as the Walden Programmer Analyst Aptitude Test which attempts to
... simulate what the job applicant is required to do on the job, as
well as to determine who is likely to be successful in technical
In this situation I couldn't find much in the way of recent research that definitively showed a correlation between aptitude tests and employee performance. Much of the literature specific to programmer aptitude tests is either focused on predicting academic success which has already been discussed.
- Some early examples of which can be found with great difficultly.
- Incidentally at least one journal article claims that that IBM no longer endorses the use of PAT and I was unable to find any mention of it being used any later than about the 1980's. A new version of the PAT could not be found when searching the IBM website.
- It appears that IBM is using a new test in the United Kingdom for recruitment that goes by the name IPAT or IPATO which is short for the Information Processing Aptitude Test On-line. There doesn't appear to be any relation between the IPAT and the original PAT nor does it appear to test a candidates ability to acquire programming skills.