The Problem with IQ Tests

IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests have been the litmus test for intelligence for the last century. There is no single “IQ test,” and each test only measures certain aspects of intelligence. Therein lies the problem with IQ tests: they are intended to act as a measure of intelligence, but how can you measure a person’s intelligence based on answers to a few questions in one test?problem with IQ tests

Why are IQ tests used

The goal of IQ tests is to predict someone’s academic potential, the likelihood of a learning disability, and general potential for success. IQ tests seek to evaluate an individual’s cognitive ability, or their ability to understand ideas. Specifically, they test a person’s reasoning and critical thinking skills. IQ tests can be helpful for identifying learning needs whether a student needs more help than others or whether they can handle more challenging work.

Limits of IQ tests

A  study by Adam Hampshire of the Brain and Mind Institute confirmed what many people already believed: IQ tests are poor indicators of intelligence. They developed a test designed to evaluate 12 “pillars of wisdom” in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s cognitive skills, from memory to planning. The 12-part test was taken by over 100,000 people and the results proved that there was no single “quotient” that could measure intelligence. They identified at least three factors that were essential to predicting intelligence: “short-term memory; reasoning; and finally, a verbal component.”

Additionally, IQ tests are unable to measure variable aspects of intelligence like emotional and social intelligence. Both of these are crucial factors in assessing an individual’s potential for success, but they are not tested in IQ tests. Ultimately, IQ tests only really measure how well an individual takes an IQ test and little more.

IQ tests have the potential to inaccurately measure an individual’s intelligence and cause problems including low confidence, unrealistic expectations, and just a generally flawed understanding of a person’s potential.

The moral of the story is this: every person is different, and while an IQ test can be useful for identifying certain strengths and weaknesses, you should be proactive when evaluating your student’s learning needs and look beyond their IQ score. Identifying your student’s ability level in areas not tested by an IQ test, such as creativity and is essential to maximizing their potential for success.

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