Why I don’t like IQ tests

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I just tried an IQ test on the BBC website, which was tied in with a show they did a while back in 2007 called ‘Test the Nation‘.

The test is laid out in a quick-fire format, in a series of around five questions per round (I think it was five, I lost count).  There are 70 questions.  Some of them require you to squint at pictures very quickly to pick out details which you will be required to recall within 10 seconds, and some of them require you to decode symbols in order to be able to perform simple mathematical calculations, again, all in 10 seconds.

I got a score of 73, and I resented that.  So I did a brief google search to find out who else hated IQ tests and was pleased to find that some people felt the same way I did.

I could have gotten a much higher score if I’d practised in advance of taking the test, there again if I’d been more intelligent then perhaps I wouldn’t need to practise.  Perhaps IQ tests only show that you’re good at taking IQ tests; there again, as fuzzy a concept as intelligence might be, if you’re intelligent enough then maybe you’d be good at whatever you put your mind to, whether it was IQ tests, chess, physics, art, music etc.

That’s a depressing thought because it means I’m dumb.

I don’t want to be dumb.  That’s why I was cheered up as I remembered a quote which, like so many quotes, probably did not come from Albert Einstein: –

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

When I looked up this quote to see if Albert Einstein really did say that thing about fish climbing trees, I came across the Quote Investigator page about it (hyper-linked above) and read an excerpt from “An Educational Allegory” published in the Journal of Education in 1899.  The extract tells the story of various animals each asked to perform various tasks (swimming, flying, climbing, running) and how each type of animal performed in all of these tasks.  It makes the point that expecting individuals to meet a proscribed standard of proficiency in everything, regardless of individual ability or suitability, will lead to skewed and unsatisfactory results.

The reason why IQ tests were invented was in order to be able to measure a person’s intelligence and categorise them according to the number they generated by taking the test.

This categorisation enabled administrators to process these people in chunks (that is how humans process things, in chunks, one at a time); so dumb people went to the dumb class and learned dumb things, and intelligent people went to the intelligent class and learned intelligent things.  This of course affected prospects for college, university and jobs later on, not to mention pride and self-confidence.

There are strengths and weaknesses in everything and everyone.  IQ tests are limited to the format and nature of the puzzles that they present and so are not good measurements of this.

So that, along with my low IQ score, is why I don’t like IQ tests.


Calvin and Hobbes
© Universal Press Syndicate


About TheImaginator

35 year old sciolist living in Tokyo. I like swing dancing, Twitter word games, writing, using Stumbleupon.com, reading, and watching movies. I write stuff on my blog occasionally.
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4 Responses to Why I don’t like IQ tests

  1. misskzebra says:

    I absolutely agree with this post.

    My older brothers and sisters all managed to pass intelligence tests that allowed them to go to a selective grammar school, and I failed miserably.

    When I was top in the class at the comprehensive, I was made to feel it didn’t matter because I was in a “stupid” school. When I got into the selective grammar school for GCSEs, I was made to feel stupid because “only” 5 of my 13 GCSEs were A*.

    It wasn’t until I went to University that I began to realize there really are skills more valuable than just being able to memorize lots of information that you forget as soon as an exam is over.

  2. Pingback: Intelligence Overloaded: Top 10 I.Q Holders of the World

  3. Pingback: Intelligence Overloaded: Top 10 IQ Holders of the World

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