Most psychologists do not agree on a standard definition for the word ‘intelligence’ but believe that the term encompasses several capabilities like adaptability to a new situation, abstract thinking, cognitive capabilities, originality, logical thinking, common-sense, alertness, productiveness and creativity. 1 The I. Q. or the intelligence quotient tests are psychometric tests that are used to measure intelligence and are based on the conventional wisdom amongst researchers that intelligence is largely genetic.
The first I. Q. test was developed by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904 when he was commissioned by the French government to find a method to differentiate between children who were intellectually normal and those who were not. 1 Since then, several changes have been made to the I. Q. tests as they have been adapted by different countries and cultures.
However, questions still exist about the efficiency and consistency of these intelligence tests. Many critics believe that it is not ethical to differentiate between individuals, especially children, based on an I. Q. test as the results could be influenced by several factors like anxiety, emotional tension, language and even physiological factors like hunger and thirst. The I. Q. tests provided by the two websites, that were a part of this assignment, tried to measure several aspects of intelligence like reasoning, math skills, general knowledge and the ability to see analogies and relations amongst concepts.
The tests, however, did not take into consideration social or emotional skills of the individual. Both the tests were designed to analyze the participant’s intellectual potential under stress and thus, had a time limit of 12 minutes. Any extra minutes cost the person some points. Also, both the tests did not take the age of the participant into consideration. The website alliqtests. com allowed the test-takers to use paper and pencil while www. testcafe. com did not. The results were derived from the answers that the participant gave to a multi-choice questionnaire.
This was my first experience with an I. Q. test and the fact that someone was about to categorize me based on my mental abilities made me nervous. Although a positive result in the test would boost my confidence, a low I. Q. result might have a contrary effect on the way I handle challenges in future. So, before starting the test I tried to find out more about the people who designed these websites and these tests. Alliqtests. com gave some basic information about its founders on the website but I found no such information on testcafe.
com. That was a concern to me as I was not sure if these tests were scientifically designed by experts or not. However, I followed all the instructions and took the tests to the best of my abilities. I took both the tests to see if the questions and the scores were comparable. As I started the tests, my emotions varied depending upon the questions. For example, most of the math questions were challenging and made me uncomfortable, especially those on testcafe. com as I was not allowed to use a pencil and paper.
I wasn’t sure if I had answered those questions correctly but I did not get any time to review. The reasoning and logic questions were very intriguing. I was actually excited about these questions and was quite confident of my responses. However, there were some questions on both the websites that involved multiple clauses and scenarios and were often baffling. For example, a question like “X is greater than Y, and Z is greater than X. A is greater than Y. Y is greater than B. A is greater than which of the following options?
” required several readings to assimilate. And, since I was allowed an average of only 20 to 25 seconds per question, spending extra time reading such questions often lead to panic. The test offered by testcafe. com were less confusing as they had only true or false choices for the answer while there were four to five choices at alliqtests. com. In general, I found the questions on www. alliqtests. com to be more complicated and more difficult to comprehend.
The scores of both the I. Q. tests were designed to follow the natural bell curve which is considered a standard. The websites therefore, estimated that about 50% of all test takers would have scores between 80-120, which is an average intelligence. Individuals who scored between 121-150 possessed above average intelligence while and any person scoring above 150 was believed to be a genius.
Though the two tests were quite different from each other, my results were comparable. I was relieved to see the results but lack of reliability of these tests made me skeptical. I wasn’t sure if a person’s intelligence or his chances of a successful career and life can be assessed based on his ability to answer these questions. Although, I. Q. tests have been used traditionally to differentiate between normal children and those with learning disabilities, most psychologists admit that these tests are not error free and that there isn’t enough evidence to prove their validity.
In fact, several studies have shown that school psychologists were able to differentiate between students with learning disabilities and low achievers with only 50 percent accuracy by using these tests. 1 The tests can give different results under different conditions for the same subjects and do not take a person’s creative or practical abilities into consideration. Binet himself agreed that “intellectual qualities are not superposable, and therefore cannot be measured as linear surfaces are measured. ” Thus, a lot more research has to be done to make I. Q. tests more consistent. References. 1. Myers, D. G. (2005). Exploring Psychology. Holland, MI:Worth.
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