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Why Standardized Testing Should Not Be Used As A Way To Define Intelligence

Coloring in the dots... Who knew that something we did in preschool would lead to determining our intelligence?

Coloring in the dots… Who knew that something we did in preschool would lead to determining our intelligence?

Standardized testing scores are a big deal, there’s no disputing that. Like moments in life, they can be good, they can be bad, they can be mediocre. A brilliant score can equate to jealous gasps, and exclamations of ” whyyyy can’t I be that smart?!” A horrible score can equate to raised eyebrows and hushed whispers of “well, someone must have been dropped on their head a lot as a child…”

Universities use these scores to separate the “intelligent” from the “not so intelligent”. They want the creme de la creme in their universities, and who can really blame them?  I disagree with the common belief that  high or low academic performance is actually an indicator of a person’s overall intelligence, and I think that’s where universities are flawed in using test scores as an indicator of whether to admit/ not admit a person.

This is probably the part where you’re thinking “obviously she isn’t getting good test scores, and she’s just trying to make excuses for it.” It’s true, I didn’t go that well. I mean, my  trial scores won’t get me into Mensa, and they weren’t as good as I was initially hoping for, but I won’t be working asking “do you want fries with that?” until I’m eighty. I take the Queensland version of the SATs, the “QCS” in approximately five weeks. The QCS resembles the academic version of The Hunger Games, and we’re all coming from District Twelve: you can’t actually properly prepare for the test. You can’t study for it. You can revise how to answer questions, but you don’t get any indicator of the questions they’re going to ask you until you’re actually doing the test. It’s not like in the SATs where you know it’s going to be Math, Reading/ Vocabulary and Writing. We get four different tests: two multiple choice tests, one short response, and one writing task. The questions could resemble anything from “calculate the weight of an elephant” to “how is ice cream nutritionally relevant within this piece of artwork?” and give you a picture of the color purple. I’m biased, of course, but if you ever feel like you need a headache? Go do the Queensland “Core” (whoever mentioned that was obviously being sarcastic) Skills Test.

Intelligence is made up of more than just academic ability. Sure, that’s a large part of it, but it’s also so much more. There are nine basic types of intelligence, and we’re all are made up of varying components of intelligence, which is what sets us apart from one another. My breakdown for the different types of intelligence are: Social (communicating to and understanding others), Emotional (able to acknowledge and understand emotions), Logical (comprehending patterns, shapes and graphs), Numerical (money, percentages, etc), Creative (art, music, drama, etc), Linguistic (the manipulation of language, in writing or speaking + speaking foreign languages), Scientific (understanding the way things work at a scientific, rather than sociological level), Athletic (coordination) and Academic (the application of academia; e.g. writing academically). Let’s hypothetically assume that our total individual ‘amount’ of intelligence equals 100%.

If I apply my theory to myself, my intelligence would be made up of 25% social, 25% emotional, 1% logical, 15% numerical, 1% creative, 20% linguistic, 1% scientific, 1% athletic, and 11% academic. That means, assuming that the QCS uses logical, numerical, linguistic, scientific and academic intelligence in the test, I’m only favoring 48%  (maximum) of my total intelligence within the QCS, and a person’s standardized testing score is only indicative of the intelligence they are actually using within that test. Like, for instance, my score is only (theoretically) indicative of 48% of my total intelligence.

What goes into these standardized tests,  is subjective, and it changes, year by year (obviously). The subjectivity of the content then affects how much of a person’s intelligence will be tested within the test. There is no possible way that the creator of standardized tests can ensure that the maximum amount of intelligence of each student will be tested, and represented. But, if they can’t ensure that  the maximum amount of  our intelligence will be represented within the test, how can we use these scores- many of which will only be a representation of a very small part of intelligence- to form judgement on how intelligent a person is? Sure, some people may have the luck of the draw- their intelligence is mostly constructed of the elements that is used to create standardized tests. For the rest of us, though- the majority of people, in fact- is it really fair to judge us on the small portion of our intelligence that is being tested?

No, it’s not.

 

 

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