What's An I.Q., And Is It Actually Useful In Determining Intelligence?

What's An I.Q., And Is It Actually Useful In Determining Intelligence?

Can an online, 20-question test really be that accurate?
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So, I took an I.Q. test this week, possibly for the first time. I say possibly because I may have taken one before during rounds of educational testing, but never remembered how it worked, what it asked, or most importantly, how I did. And because I couldn't remember this little nugget of information, I spent a portion of my Wednesday afternoon taking a quick test online, because, why not?

Of course, I was inherently skeptical of the results, as well as the design of the questions. And so, in typical fashion, I started researching.

A brief history of the I.Q. test:

A psychologist named Alfred Binet was asked by the French government in the early 1900s to find a way to predict how successful children would be in school. Since they had recently passed a law that required all children to attend school, they were curious to see if there was a way to measure how much assistance a specific child would need. And so, Binet and his colleague Theodore Simon started developing a questionnaire that would, ideally, test students on their abilities to remember information, be attentive, and problem-solve. The two developed the Binet-Simon scale in hopes of defining intelligence using a single number. However, they ran into the problem that some children had a higher "mental age" than others within the same age group.

Binet became frustrated with his own work, and at a certain point figured that intelligence was simply too broad and complex to be measured in such a way. But test development did not stop there. The test was soon brought to the United States, where Lewis Terman made revisions and standardized the test for U.S. use. The scale was then renamed the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scale, which is now more commonly referred to as the I.Q., or Intelligence Quotient Scale.

Since then, the scale has gone through numerous adaptations and revisions, including Alpha and Beta tests for WWI recruits, as well as the more in depth WAIS test, which was developed in 1955. This being said, the I.Q. test is still very popular as a way of estimating mental aptitude.

How it works:

In it's most simplistic form, an I.Q. score is an equation that spits out a number that falls somewhere along the bell curve.

The numbers appear as standard deviations from the average, which is anywhere between 85 to 100. Numbers above 100 indicate higher and higher mental aptitude, while the opposite is reflected in numbers below 85.

But how do we get that singular number?

The I.Q. test was designed to find your "mental age" and compare it against your current or chronological age. After those two variables are determined, they are plugging into a rather simple equation:

M.A. (Mental Age) / C.A. (Chronological Age) x 100 = IQ

To demonstrate, say a 10-year-old student takes the exam and the test adds up to be about 12. Their I.Q. score, after the numbers are plugged in accordingly, is around 120.

What makes I.Q. testing problematic?

Admittedly, I had issues with this test before I'd even finished the exam. After taking two exams, and having gotten results from one, I'd created a rather involved mental list of questions, comments and concerns. And granted, I took both of those online, and they may not have been accurate, but in my personal experience so far, there are a few issues to sort out.

For one, there are only 20 questions. Now, points for efficiency, but I've had finals that are only covering 10 weeks of my life at about five times as many questions. How can 20 questions give an adequate reading of an entire life's worth of intelligence? And the questions themselves were already problematic. Almost all 20, in both versions, were about noticing patterns, or being able to complete math problems. But intelligence is not just about being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide. This department specifically is where I think the WAIS exam takes the cake, as it tests for four major areas of intelligence, not just one or two.

Moving past my own experience with online I.Q. exams, the concept alone that the exam is a correct indicator of how you will fair in school and in life is almost ridiculous. It's seen time and time again that one of the quickest ways to identify a child with learning disabilities is that their I.Q. score is often extremely high, while their ability to do well in the classroom can be quite the opposite -- that, and sometimes the fact that people are just poor test takers. There are so many variables to consider that it makes it difficult to believe that a test like this is able to produce an accurate score.

The test itself also comes with a shaky background. The I.Q. test used to be a requirement for all people trying to immigrate to the United States through Ellis Island. However, sometimes these individuals did not speak the language. But even if there wasn't a language barrier, the questions at the time were laced with cultural references and nuances that made it almost impossible for the test to be biased towards American-born citizens.

And finally, probably the biggest issue of all is the assumptions that these numbers bring along with them. There are longstanding beliefs that knowledge and intelligence are linked to certain subjects, and that some strengths are better than others. A single number cannot accurately reflect how likely someone is to be successful, or what their strengths and weaknesses are.

All that being said, I'll admit, I enjoyed taking the tests, even if I'm not quite sure I believe it's a true measure of intelligence. People are still developing methods to more accurately measure human intelligence and aptitude. But it is important to understand that with all of these tests and measurements, not everyone learns the same or thinks the same. The brain is complicated and still a mystery to us in many ways.

Cover Image Credit: lojaonlineconsultoria.com

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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4 Ways to Survive During Finals Week

Finals week is hard, but you got this!

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Buckle your seatbelts, everyone, it's about to be a long ride for the next few weeks of endless studying, crying in the library, eating Easy Mac for every meal, and constantly wishing for summer. It's finals week. But you got this!

Final exams, in many classes, might be the most important exam of the year. How do professors expect us to review everything we learned in a semester in just a couple of weeks, and take a two-hour exam on all of the material? It seems nearly impossible, except that many students are able to manage it. Here are a few short tips to survive finals week:

Make a schedule

One of the most efficient things to do to prepare for finals is to make a study schedule. Plan out what classes you need to study more for than others, what days and times you want to study each section of material, etc. Most times, for me in specific, when I make a plan I stick to it, so this is one thing that I do that really helps me stay organized and on top of everything.

Prioritize

Do you have one class that you can get an A in if you study hard for the final, but another class that you need over 100% on the final to get an A in the class, but only a 40% to keep a B? If so, since it is stressful to study for everything in a few weeks, maybe spend more time on the class you think you can get an A in, and maybe do not prioritize the other class. I'm not saying don't study at all, but maybe spending more time on one class than the other would be better.

Spread out your studing

One of the worst things to do for a final exam, or any exam for that matter, is to cram for hours the night before. Retention is higher when you spread out your studying, plus you can only spend 1 or 2 hours a day on that class instead of 8 in one night, which seems easier if you break your time into chunks.

Take care of yourself

Can't remember the last time you ate food? Go eat! Are you really stressed out and need to take a mental break? Go for a walk, exercise, or just watch an episode of your favorite show. Need some extra motivation? Call you friends/family and they'll give you the motivation to keep going.

Finals week might be the most stressful week of the year, but you got this!

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