IQ tests measure human abilities

Up close with Dr. E

As an elementary school student, I and my classmates were subjected to an endless barrage of tests: spelling tests, math tests, memory tests to see if we knew our capitals of State or the names of Civil War battles. The tests overwhelmed me. As soon as I had studied and taken one, BAM! Here is another, and another, and another … However, there was one type of test, mysterious and frightening, because it wielded such great power, was alone in the vast arsenal of examinations. “Richard, next Monday you will take an IQ test,” my smiling fifth-grade teacher informed me. IQ test, what is it? My mind, now a flywheel of frenzy, conjures up possible definitions for IQ: inferior? No. Intestinal quality? No. Instant quicksand? Yes that’s it! On Monday, this test will turn my brain into soft quicksand, plunging me into the abyss as I fall to the bottom of the class.

Disheartened, I threw the “Monday IQ test” into the same bucket I had used to store other childhood items such as dental visits, injections, the first day of school. , the last day of summer or measles. Monday came, I took the IQ test and Monday left. I never saw the test results. But I knew I had done wrong. I knew this because, unlike my two brothers and a sister who were smart, I didn’t like school and I did poorly. So, feeling the need to rebel, I invented my own IQ test. The concept was simple: I designed a series of questions, in order from easy to difficult, that would divide the world into two groups. Group 1: Inferiors, who know nothing about fishing; and Group 2: Brilliant people (like me) who know a lot about fishing. I called it the FQ test, for Fishing Qualified. Here are three of the test questions:

1. While fishing at the edge of a small stream, what could you use as bait if your worms ran out?

a. Insects B. Crayfish tails c. Your chewing gum d. All the foregoing.

2. Bars have well-developed sidelines. Why?

a. So they can pass the football better. b. to camouflage c. To detect underwater vibrations.

3. While fishing and sitting on a large fallen tree, what should you do when you feel a rolling motion directly under your behind and see, emerging from the bark of the tree, the head of a copper colored serpent?

a. shout b. run c. pray to D. all of the above.

Fun aside, let’s learn about the tests used to measure children’s mental development (IQ tests). In 1905, the French government needed answers to a problem faced by schools. How to distinguish children who need more intensive educational programs from those who do not? Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon, two psychologists, devised the first practical way to measure the mental abilities of children. The IQ test was born. The fishing test I created above used the same procedure as Binet. That is, a series of questions, tasks and performances, ranging from easy to difficult, were given and scores were generated which were used to classify students into classes based on their mental abilities. The term IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and was coined so that numbers could be assigned based on the child’s test score. A child with normal intelligence was defined by an IQ score of 90-109.

Since 1905, the use of IQ tests in America and around the world has revolutionized the way schools educate students. However, the rise of psychological testing for many other purposes—employment, psychiatric, military, and legal—has been even greater. Society as a whole has accepted testing as an accurate and legitimate means of measuring human ability or disability. A little problem. Why have I always done so poorly on IQ tests, but done so well on other tasks such as social awareness, emotional sensitivity, music or even, yes that’s right, fishing ability? Stay tuned next week for more IQ types.

(Answers to the Fishing Quiz: D, C, D — the snake was a copper head.).

The content of this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment.

Dr. Richard Elghammer contributes his weekly column to the Journal Review.


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