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Do you think standardized tests accurately measure intelligence?

teabiscuitteabiscuit 20 replies61 threads Junior Member
Wouldn't GPA be a better indicator?
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Replies to: Do you think standardized tests accurately measure intelligence?

  • Hermit9Hermit9 624 replies13 threads Member
    @teabiscuit I think before people started preparing/studying for SAT/ACT, they were both good indicators of intelligence. I think they still are, but to a lesser extent.

    GPA isn't a great method, either. Some factors unrelated to intelligence like lack of ECs, little need for sleep, weak schedule, and being able to kiss a teacher's...play a major role in giving unintelligent people high GPAs, while the opposites of these factors can lower an intelligent individual's GPA.

    The worst part about simply evaluating GPA for colleges is that it's done differently everywhere and no two schools have identical difficulty. This becomes a problem when only one or two students at a school apply to a college, for their GPA can't be compared to their respective class.
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  • allyphoeallyphoe 2444 replies59 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    Measuring your intelligence using a college admissions test is like measuring your weight using a ruler.
    edited December 2015
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  • HollaChallaHollaChalla 54 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @teabiscuit Nothing accurately measures intelligence, but standardized testing is a much better indicator than GPA. What is GPA honestly? It's basically how much you can memorize and practice and show that on a test. Standardized testing measures analytical thinking and true intelligence on the spot. GPA can be manipulated in many ways by inflation and the teacher, making unintentional differences high.
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  • 8bagels8bagels 401 replies0 threads Member
    While they of course aren't perfect, IMO they are as a whole pretty amazing in their ability to measure intelligence/aptitude.

    That has been proven to me over the many kids I've known over the years. Once I know something about them (their course loads, grades, parents, etc.) I can pretty much predict what they are going to get on the ACT/SAT, with surprising accuracy.

    With kids of family friends who I've known for years, I can easily tell, well in advance, whether the kid will score in the 18-22 range, the 25 range, the 30 range or the 33+ range.

    In fact, I could probably do the same thing just knowing the parents, and never having even met the kids.

    Scores can be moved within a range (maximized or minimized), for sure. And anomalies or outliers will always exist. But the biggest predictor of standardized test scores is genetics.

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  • anon9362anon9362 570 replies16 threads Member
    I do think they are better measurements of intelligence than grades because a lot of extra stuff goes into grades. That said, I don't think anyone's intelligence can accurately be defined by a number.
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  • okon2122okon2122 267 replies21 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2015
    @HollaChalla Well, for the most part I can agree, however a lot of testing on ACT and SAT relies on concrete facts which aren't taught in the parameters of conceptual and analytical processes. Moreover, we need to distinguish inherent/potential/genetic intelligence and how the child's brain has been utilized... the person with the most potential will generally be average or even failing in intellect because of circumstances/bad parenting/etc, whereas the student with average inherent potential sent to great private schools will be scoring highly on these tests.

    Moreover, like I've said before here, analytical thinking is not about predetermined criteria, it is about complexity. Sure, SAT testing does require a few dimensions of analytical process, and can absolutely be a sign a student is intelligent or even gifted, but a student can fill up a page of complicated work/analysis and get nowhere near the correct answer. This is because a multiple choice test does not cover the scope of possibilities one can think of, only what has been researched and found to be concretely 'true.' However, isn't intelligence about abstraction? Why are we narrowing ourselves to this contradiction?

    just because the student's answer isn't correct within established theory doesn't mean the child is stupid for thinking differently in this respect. just because they don't pick up on facts well doesn't mean they're any dumber than their classmates. this is usually just a result of being too out-of-touch with their environment, given their creative faculties are in high gear, and I think we make the mistake of equating 'no facts in brain >>> drooling at their desk without any thoughts in their mind'
    edited December 2015
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  • okon2122okon2122 267 replies21 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2015
    Moreover, these tests are always being updated and researched. The version we have now and next will never be perfect in the time youre taking it, especially since the psychology behind it hasn't grasped what intelligence really is. Even then the test is not testing intelligence, it's a projection of how well one will do in college.
    edited December 2015
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5331 replies90 threads Senior Member
    The way the tests are currently used is a corruption. Here is a good analogy. Lets take reaction time using a clicker. (or any other way to measure it). You would find that reaction time is highly correlated with things like vocabulary and...well intelligence. All that means is that your reaction time speed and, say your vocabulary are likely to place you roughly on the same part of the distribution compared to other people. So if you are in the 70th percentile for RT then you are probably close to the 70th percentile for vocabulary (this is just an example to make a point-the correlations are really not that high-but they are surprisingly high). So, if you took 100 people, you'd find that the two scores are highly correlated and if you know one you can predict the other.

    But now let's pretend you took 3 people and trained them specifically in reaction time. The 3 people worked all day long on a task similar to the one that you used to measure reaction time. Given this intense training, they get better and better at the task. Now their reaction time is no longer a valid way to predict their vocabulary. It was valid only when reaction time reflected how well someone does on the task that they have had the same exposure to as everyone else and where their performance is influenced by their previous life experience-not specifically with the task.. But working specifically on reaction time will not increase vocabulary or comprehension or short term memory as shown by digit span tasks. No, Reaction time now says nothing about intellect for these three people. Their RT and vocab won't be correlated any more. That is what happens with the SATs and ACTs. When performance reflected incidental learning, it was a decent measure-predictive of overall g. but not when people are being trained to master the test itself. Then the test is no longer valid-it is corrupted.
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  • shawnspencershawnspencer 3098 replies12 threads Senior Member
  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2015
    Once I know something about them (their course loads, grades, parents, etc.) I can pretty much predict what they are going to get on the ACT/SAT, with surprising accuracy.

    Your consideration of anecdata as "proof" aside, @8bagels , you stumbled on something real. It turns out that parents' income correlates very strongly with SAT/ACT scores.
    edited December 2015
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  • jgoggsjgoggs 208 replies22 threads Junior Member
    But parents' income probably also correlates strongly with parents' intelligence, and intelligence is probably largely genetic, so the correlation between parents' income and children's test scores isn't necessarily as damning as some testing opponents sometimes make it sound...
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  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    jgoggs wrote:
    But parents' income probably also correlates strongly with parents' intelligence

    Once again, there is no consensus on how to measure intelligence or even what it is. This rabbit hole, it is a circle.
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  • jgoggsjgoggs 208 replies22 threads Junior Member
    Well, only if you believe that the inability to define a term entirely without ambiguity renders the term unintelligible and useless.

    Most people do not believe that.

    For example, there is no "consensus" about the term "person" (Is an embryo a person? Is a brain-dead human a person?) but the occasional ambiguity doesn't prevent us from using and understanding the term in everyday situations. We can all agree that Hillary Clinton is a person, I imagine. We don't have to throw up our hands in despair in a clear-cut case simply because "experts" might not agree in the rare, ambiguous ones, do we?

    So, thought experiment--suppose we pull 50 wealthy, native-English-speaking 17-year-olds with 2350+ SAT scores out of high-end New England boarding schools and put them on one side of a soccer field. Now suppose we take 50 wealthy, native-English-speaking 17-year-olds with sub-1600 SAT scores out of similar schools and put them on the other side of the soccer field. Are we really not able to agree that most of the kids on the 2350+ side of the field are just plain more intelligent than most of the kids on the sub-1600 side of the field?
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  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    Sure, but that's not a useful hypothetical. The thread is asking a specific question--a question literally about testing for intelligence. To do so, you need to have a definition of intelligence. And if anything's hand-wavy, it's sloppy assumptions like "But parents' income probably also correlates strongly with parents' intelligence, and intelligence is probably largely genetic," neither of which is demonstrably true and both of which require a definition of intelligence.
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  • 8bagels8bagels 401 replies0 threads Member
    @marvin100
    Absolutely, I agree, parent income would have a correlation to SAT scores.
    But that's because income also correlates to intelligence.
    I'm 25 years out of college/grad school. My classmates (Ivy league) and I have kids now in college, or late in high school.
    I'm blown away by how high they ALL score on the SAT/ACT. Statistically, it's highly improbable, in our group all of our kids scored in the top 1%.
    Yes, all of my classmates also have incomes ranging from high to extremely high (they are CEOs, managing partners on Wall Street, etc.). But they are also very intelligent (by any measure), and also are married to spouses who are equally intelligent.
    So what's the predictor of the high SAT/ACT scores?
    It's the genetics. Not the income. The income is just a byproduct of intelligence. They don't check your financial statement and award extra points on the tests. The kids have to answer the questions just like everyone else.
    Because of their genetics, these kids would score the same whether their dads are in high paying jobs, or whether they decided to work for the Peace Corps.
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  • 8bagels8bagels 401 replies0 threads Member
    Intelligence is not an undefinable term.
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  • uskoolfishuskoolfish 2906 replies50 threads Senior Member
    Both d's had the experience of going up between 80 to 110 points in sections of the SAT without any additional prep. The more times you take these tests, the more you will see these kinds of discrepancies. And I'm talking about scores going up and down, not a linear pattern of improvement. Also major differences in scores between act and sat. 35 ACT English vs 660 SAT verbal within a week. 35 ACT math vs 650 math (other d-- both tests taken within two weeks if each other. )

    So no, don think any one sitting is an accurate account of anything.
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  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    @8bagels - the plural of anecdote is not "data."

    And this:
    Intelligence is not an undefinable term.

    Is not a refutation.

    Seriously. There is a TON of research on "intelligence" and its genetic components, and the knee-jerk answers some of you seem so eager to propound are not supported by the research. Get a JSTOR or Lexis-Nexis account and do some searching. It's a huge and varied field, and I assure you any "easy" answer is false.
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  • marvin100marvin100 8568 replies1249 threads Senior Member
    (All that said, I do believe there is a genetic component in whatever it is we mean when we say "intelligence"--although we definitely mean many different, unrelated things to different people--in addition to the significant impact of parenting, home life, and of course education. The last item is of course the most easily controlled, so that's the one I and most others focus on, and much of the research suggests that the single most impactful variable in education outcomes is teachers.

    A great teacher can boost a kid 2 grade levels in a subject and a poor teacher can drop a kid a grade level or two, so that's a tremendous factor.

    I'd also argue that students who work hard often end up being pretty "intelligent" by whatever metric you use, because some of the few things we know about academic "intelligence" is that it's related to acquisition and application of knowledge, that it's not a permanent, set quality, and that it can be nurtured--or, of course, squandered.)
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