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Why the IQ Test Is Not As Important As You Think

Throughout our high school careers we are defined by a series of numbers. SAT scores, GPAs, and test grades are constant pressures. But these were not the first numbers attributed to all of us. The first instance of your worth being enumerated occurs at a much younger age when you take the Intelligence Quotient or the “IQ” test. The test, which ranges from under 20 to above 180, is supposed to measure your cognitive ability and how it compares with the rest of the population. The average IQ is 100, while 70 and below is categorized as developmentally disabled and 130 and above is considered to be exceptionally smart. The IQ test, invented by Alfred Binet in 1904, contains verbal and performance scales. Within the verbal scale are tests measuring comprehension, vocabulary, sequencing, and more. The performance scale is more visually focused, with tests such as picture completion and arrangement.

As a society, we place an inordinate amount of emphasis on IQ. Most children take the test at young ages, and their score defines them throughout high school, each year with one teacher passing the IQ score to the next. This stigma causes bias within teachers, who automatically assume that a student with a higher IQ will produce better work than a student with a lower one. What these teachers, and most people, do not realize is that IQ tests do not always correctly measure one’s learning potential. When taking the IQ test you could be distracted, or conversely, you could be guessing correctly. The administerer could be making errors that impact your performance, as one study shows that 90% of those who administer the exams feel as though they make errors such as inconsistent scoring. Conditions such as anxiety could greatly affect your ability to perform in categories such as short term memory. A lack of motivation could cause even the smartest people to underperform. IQs are also subject to change, although it is typical for people to take the IQ test once at a relatively young age. In a study conducted at Northwestern University by Bernadine G. Schmidt, 322 children with low IQs enrolled in special classes ended up catching up to their peers of average IQs. Some children’s scores increased by 70 points.

In relation to the FA community, these results show us that IQs shouldn’t define a student and do not necessarily correlate with academic success. Motivation and hard work can elevate students to the highest levels of distinction rather than just being smart. So the next time that an arrogant peer brags that their IQ was measured to be 140 in the first grade, remember that IQs in no way define your potential.

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