IQ TESTING: A PERSONAL STORY

I DID IT.  I CONFESS…..

73790533 - human brain and iq word, 3d rendering

 

 I took an online IQ test.

Before I tell you how I did, I need to talk to you about why I did it.  As a neuropsychologist, I administer myriads of IQ tests to all ages, so I’m always thinking about intelligence as a construct and how poorly understood IQ is.

And as summer closes, IQ season opens in my office;  it is definitely IQ testing season here is Los Angeles, where more and more schools are asking for IQ tests as a pre-admission requirement.

I also was curious about these quickie online IQ tests, are they valid? What do they measure? Because, as you may or may not know, intelligence is a tricky thing.  No one has really begun to come up with a great definition of what intelligence actually is, let alone begin to describe someone’s intelligence with a single number.  (Parents, please take note!)

NUTSHELL SUMMARY OF IQ HISTORY (AN INCOMPLETE STORY)

The elusive single number to quantify someone’s intelligence was developed by Spearman, it was called a “G” or general G for estimating someone’s overall intelligence.  Alfred Binet, in France originally developed his own intelligence test to see if children were ‘educable’.  David Wechsler captured the field with his Wechsler tests (WISC, WPPSI, WAIS) and Woodcock and Johnson capitalized on the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence which is a highly complex and nuanced version of different aspects of your cognitive brain.  More recently, Reynolds, Kaufman and Naglieri came up with their own equally valid and interesting IQ tests.  I am sure I am missing some wonderful tests in this paragraph (Hey, Stanford Binet, when is your new edition coming out?) Howard Gardner came up with “Multiple Intelligence” (bless him) and stayed away from trying to quantify intelligence as a single number.

(Sorry, that is a very brief nutshell summary of a fascinating topic)

MY DEFINITION OF GIFTED:

As for me, I consider a child who is INTENSELY CURIOUS TO LEARN to be highly intelligent.  Some kids are clearly precocious and may score high on these tests, but if they aren’t curious or if they are too placid, they may score the big points, but I don’t consider them truly “GIFTED”.

“Intelligence is both genetic and experience dependent. That means it take the golden key of exposure to an enriched environment to “turn on” your child’s gifts. TO BE GIFTED IS TO INTENSELY WANT TO LEARN AND TO KEEP IMPROVING ON YOURSELF, YOUR TALENTS AND BE AWARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT IN AN INTENSE AND CURIOUS WAY.  NO ONE IS GIFTED IN ALL AREAS”

SO BACK TO MY OWN IQ TEST:

I bit the bullet and took the 10 minute online IQ test.  It was timed.  And surprisingly the timing made me nervous so I rushed.  That’s not the only surprise.  The test was completely non-verbal, and mostly composed of solving either visual-spatial puzzles or math riddles in matrix form.  “Hey! That’s not fair!!”, I shouted to the screen.  These are not my strengths!! To say that the verbal linguistic left hemisphere side of my brain felt discriminated against, was an understatement. So in the end I did ok,  but I ended up feeling judged.  unfairly.  ha!

NOW BACK TO THE OFFICE.

Where I realized that I do this to kids. Every. Single. day.  They are timed and measured.  Thank goodness, I measure every part of their little brains and give them every opportunity to shine.  They are also praised a lot and leave feeling pretty good.  At least I hope so!  ( I sweeten the deal with a nice cup of hot chocolate…..

AND NOW HERE IS MY SOAPBOX TIRADE:

Kids come in all sizes, shapes and learning styles.  Whether they are strongly verbal, street smart, creative, physical, artistic, intuitive, personable or visual spatial will determine a lot about how they do in school, their self worth and the way teachers view them.  YES it pays to have your child tested if you have concerns or need validation about your child’s learning style, because hopefully your tester won’t allow you to ride on a single “G” score but will highlight your child’s natural intelligence gifts.

For example, gifted students with visual spatial strengths and weaker language skills are often over-looked in school.  Such thinkers as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Leonardo Da Vinci were all noted for gifted spatial reasoning skills.  Verbalization often plays a secondary role in the spatially oriented student’s thinking style and is not necessarily integral in the process of his ability to reason.  Occupations that rely on spatial rate reasoning include engineering, architecture, physics, chemistry or medical surgery.  Unfortunately, so many students who are identified as being gifted spatially are disproportionately weaker students relative to their ability level compared with gifted verbal students.

I’m not sure i would call these kids “2E”: twice exceptional.  I would say they are exceptional for sure!  Quiet packages with lots going on in their brainy minds, visual spatial kids need to develop both their strengths as well as their verbal skills.

So next time you start to think of yourself and your kid as an IQ number, think again!

STAY CURIOUS, KEEP LEARNING AND KEEP SHARING THIS BEAUTIFUL WIDE WORLD WITH YOUR CHILD!

ps. If an ad for an online IQ test pops up, don’t do it! Put your phone down and go hug your child instead!

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