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Almost every one has taken, or at least heard of, an IQ test. These are tests designed to determine a person’s intelligence. How accurate are these tests? Can answering a series of questions really determine a person’s intelligence? What exactly is intelligence and can one definition apply to large numbers of people? These questions have been the proposed over the subject of intelligence in the last few decades. Numerous studies have attempted to uncover the true definition of intelligence, but too many people have opposing views on this issue. My aim in the next paragraphs is to uncover a working definition of intelligence. Using my own personal opinions, as well as the opinions of various experts, I will work at defining intelligence and look at ways of improving ones intelligence. I will also look into the subject of intelligence testing in order to uncover the accuracy and effectiveness of these tests.
Intelligence is easily noticed in our society. In causal conversations, a person who struggles to find the simplest words is often regarded as stupid and teased based on their lack of intelligence. Moron or idiot are terms widely used to describe people, who we think, lack intelligence. Are these judgments fair? No, they are not. As we uncover details about how the human brain processes information, we are finding that various types of intelligence exist. One must not make judgments on a person’s intelligence until they have covered all possible forms of intelligence.
This brings us to a definition of intelligence. What is intelligence? Is being smart the same thing as being intelligent? Intelligence is defined as “mentally acute, showing sound judgment and rationality.” (Intelligent, 1) Smart is defined as being “Characterized by sharp, quick thought; bright, amusingly clever; witty” (Smart, 1) These words, although related to the same idea, have different meanings. In classrooms all across the world, students are taught new vocabulary and methods to solving the mathematical enigmas set before them. These skills are very useful in a classroom setting, but unfortunately offer very little in normal life. I recently took a poll of fellow college students and asked them “What makes a person successful?” Over the two weeks I accepted answers, I received over 200 responses. The majority of the students replied with a combination of the following abilities: handling stressful situations, performing multiple tasks, working well with other people, making intelligent group decisions, and handling pressure responsibly. (Success) All of the items on this list are not included in intelligence tests; therefore it seems a high IQ will not guarantee success.
In his book “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Goleman highlights the story of a young man with big dreams of attending Harvard, one of the most prestigious of the Ivy League schools. The young man, who was very smart, was well on his way to the prestigious school, until he acted in a very “stupid” manner. After receiving an 80 percent on one physics test, the straight-A student was so distraught that he stabbed the teacher in the shoulder. (Rose, 20) This student was “book-smart” and not “street-smart. Intellectually, the young man was far superior to his fellow students, but emotionally he was far below average and in desperate need of help. Almost all colleges require applicants to furnish transcripts, SAT, ACT, and sometimes IQ test scores. A psychological examination, however, is never a requirement unless the student has a past history of psychological troubles.
We have all met people who can think of the quickest comebacks to verbal opposition. Some people can remain calm while everything around them fails, while others will panic if one thing is out of order. These are all forms of our intelligence. These forms, however, are not as widely accepted as a rating of intelligence. This paper is on IQ tests, therefore I decided it was my responsibility to take an IQ test in order to accurately judge the testing procedures. The format of the tests seemed very similar. Mathematical computations, finding the missing words from the sentence, finding the missing piece of the puzzle or solving little riddles with a minimal amount of time. These procedures or a combination of the procedures were common in all the tests. The tests supposedly measure our thinking ability and the ability to comprehend the information presented. The tests revolve heavily around academic subjects and offer no methods that would help a person outside of the academic world. Do these tests benefit the taker or merely consume their precious time?
Intelligence (IQ) tests are “designed to provide an estimate of a person’s mental abilities.” (Intelligence, 595) These tests, however boring they might be, will stretch the mind and make us think in new ways. The Weschler IQ test measures ones’ vocabulary, general knowledge, verbal reasoning and memory, and their construction, visual-spatial, and perceptual abilities. (Intelligence, 595) The second most widely used intelligence test, the Stanford-Binet, only measures scholastic ability. This test is made up of questions about mathematics and replacing the wrong word in the paragraph. The question is which of these tests is more beneficial. Each test is beneficial in a different way. If you were stuck in a drowning boat, a person who could state useless facts would be of very little benefit. In the same situation, a person with strong visual-spatial abilities would be much more useful. However, this person would not do as well on Jeopardy or a similar show. The combination of the two would be very beneficial to those blessed with both types of intelligence. If a person knows he is lacking in spatial relations, he will be able to improve his ability through practice. The same goes for a person lacking in math abilities. These are a few ways in which the tests are used.
Intelligence tests can be very useful in a number of ways. An IQ test can help a person determine the areas of intelligence in which they are lacking. After taking a test, a person might realize they lack visual spatial skills, yet are very strong in mathematical abilities and word comprehension. The individual could work on improving his visual spatial skills in order to become a better employee. IQ tests are also widely used in the education system to look for problem areas in students. The tests, if administered at an early age, can pinpoint problem areas in the child’s learning abilities allowing the problems to be corrected. Daniel Goleman covers this issue in his book as well. He tells of a study in which young children were tested on four beneficial areas of development: leadership, the ability to nurture relationships and keep friends, the ability to resolve conflicts, and social perceptiveness. This study, which followed young children with various IQ’s, found that the children with lower IQ’s had ability in more of the other developmental areas. The students with higher IQ’s had less ability in the other areas. (Goleman, 37-38) The students with the high IQ’s lacked the social development the other students had gained. There is a link between a child’s IQ and their interpersonal development; therefore the education system must attempt to improve both areas instead of just one.
Intelligence tests are widely used in our society. Since other factors can influence a person’s intelligence, IQ tests should not be the only determination of a person’s intelligence. I think the IQ tests can be used in the education system to determine problem areas for the students. Since various forms of intelligence exist, I do not think IQ tests should be used in an employment situation or to determine scholastic success. This would be unfair to the intelligent people who are gifted in other forms of expression, which are not covered by the intelligence tests. In conclusion, I think the IQ test should be used as a tool to improve a person’s abilities, not to disqualify him from advancement or give him an unfair advantage over other people.

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Works Cited

“Intelligence.” The American Medical Association
Home Medical Encyclopedia. (1989). New York:
Random House.
“Intelligent.” Dictonary.com listing:
http://www.dictionary.com/
Goleman, Daniel. (1995). Emotional Intelligence:
Why can it matter more than IQ. New York:
Bantam Books.
Rose, Mike and Malcolm Kiniry. (1998). Critical
Strategies for Academic Thinking and Writing.
Boston: Bedford Books.
“Smart.” Dictionary.com listing
http://www.dictionary.com/