Accuracy of Intelligence Tests Questioned

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Home > Articles > Accuracy of Intelligence Tests Questioned

 Accuracy of Intelligence Tests Questioned

Tan Chee Teik | General
January 4, 2019
​We are curious about our own intelligence. So many subject themselves to intelligence tests. But select the test carefully as some are inaccurate.

FOR over 100 years, many have relied on intelligence tests in education, hiring, and other fields. Mensa, the society for the intellectual elite has used the intelligence quotient (IQ) test to weed out below average applicants for membership.

In a study by the Daily Telegraph and New Scientist in 2010, researchers found that three tests of the human mental agility are required to adequately gauge one’s intelligence. They are separate tests for short-term memory, reasoning, and verbal recall.

They observed that some people with poor reasoning may have brilliant memories. Then there are those with great language skills but are not so good at reasoning.

In the study of 110,000 people, they took a 30-minute online test that featured 12 cognitive tests of volunteers’ memory, reasoning, attention, and planning as well as recording details about their lifestyle and background.

The scientists selected 16 volunteers and scanned their brains while they completed the same tests. They found that the three key types of intelligence relied on different circuits in the brain.

They observed that participants who regularly played “brain training” games did not do exceptionally better. But those who regularly played computer games scored much higher in reasoning and short-term memory tests, while smokers and anxiety sufferers had lower scores in short-term memory tests.

So, should we abandon the emphasis on all intelligence tests? Not so fast, as IQ tests do have certain benefits. We should continue to use specific IQ tests until someone comes out with a new test that captures the three important areas.

Intelligence is the overall capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment.

An achievement test assesses knowledge of a specific subject, while an aptitude test predicts the potential to benefit from instruction in a particular academic or vocational setting.

An intelligence test is a sort or aptitude test that measures overall mental ability. A person is assumed to be retarded if they have an IQ below 70 and experience difficulties performing in daily life beginning in childhood. At the top of the scale, to be classified as mentally gifted, a person must have an IQ above 130 and show unusual ability in at least one area, such as music, art, or mathematics.

Popular IQ Tests
Since the first intelligence test by Simon and Binet (named after Dr Theodore Simon and Mr Alfred Binet) many other IQ tests have been developed. These two IQ test types are commonly used worldwide: the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS); and Raven's Progressive Matrices.

These tests can be taken if a fee is paid. Be careful of some free IQ tests available on the Internet. Some of these tend to be unreliable. You should not rely too much on their results. Usually the authors are only interested in capturing your E-mail address or other personal data. 

The above IQ tests mentioned above consist of different types of questions, each testing a different component of intelligence. Usually the following components are tested:
Verbal intelligence: the ability to understand, use, and learn language. Quick understanding of text and a large vocabulary are indicators of a high verbal intelligence,
Numerical intelligence: the ability to calculate. Calculations are traditionally the most commonly used method of measuring intelligence,
Spatial intelligence: the ability to solve complex spatial problems, and
Logical intelligence: the ability to reason.

Mr Tan Chee Teik is a freelance journalist. He is a regular contributor to M360 and Today’s Manager.

Copyright © 2018 Singapore Institute of Management

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