What’s the Point of I.Q. Tests?

Recently, I started to become interested in finding out my I.Q.

I took multiple tests, and afterwards wondered how I could keep improving and changing the way I think to get a higher number.

I was so obsessed with making myself ‘intelligent’, that I forgot to think harder about the reason why I wanted to do better.

Why do I want to be in that top 5% of the population? Why are these numbers a measure of how well I’ll do in the real world? Is boasting the only reason I wanted a high I.Q?

When I took a moment to think and assess my motives a little deeper, I slowly began to realize how silly I was being.

From a young age, most of us are taught that the percentage of your grade is an indicator for how you’ll end up in the future. A part of this idea can be mixed up in our minds, after we hear about people who were skilled from a very young age, and became successful because of it. We can end up thinking; Find not something you’re passionate about, but something you can already do.

I’ve always carried a version of this message with me, and wanted to do the best I could. I actually really enjoyed school and every single subject, and knew since my first year that I wanted to work toward a more academically-inclined field.

It took me a while, but I realized that this message might not be the best one to follow. I had started becoming jealous of people who were better than me, because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong to put me below them.

Everyone wants to be the best, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, this is a great motivation to make us want to do better. But I took it a step too far, and threw my mental health into the mix.

After a while, I started looking at my grades that I should be proud of, and kept telling myself that I was bad at it. I told myself that I had to keep pushing myself to reach the top – wherever the top was. I felt a strong need to ultimately do better than anyone who dare oppose me.

This worked for a while, until my happiness started deteriorating. I looked at my friends as competitors. I saw everyone as a villain in my story; someone I needed to defeat to win the game. That’s what life was to me, a game with scores, winners, and losers.

Comparing myself to others became a habit, and I couldn’t look at another person my age without a sting of jealousy, and along with that, the realization that I was blaming others for the pain I inflicted on myself. I think that’s what hurt me the most, actually.

I discovered that this jealousy and fear of failure wasn’t getting me anywhere. If I really wanted to accomplish something, I should focus on myself instead of others.

How does all of this relate to I.Q?

My issue with I.Q. tests is that they compare you to the other billions of people in the world, and telling you how much better or worse you are than them with a type of intelligence. Some people might not know that these tests don’t accurately reflect your overall intellect, and no one likes the feeling of failure when compared to your peers.

Using this as a way to tell children and teens that they don’t have the skills to do something yet will obviously make them less confident in themselves and their ideas.

Yes, I.Q. tests show your basic intelligence in certain areas, such as math, recognizing patterns, etc. However, does this really make your ideas and opinions more or less valuable?

Intelligence tests cover the true meaning behind education and capability, which is not how much you already know, but how much you’re willing to learn.

Learning is what blossoms creativity, and what gives birth to new ideas and interests. We can’t dishearten people by telling them that their abilities have a limit. The truth is that everyone has the potential to change the world. Why should we divide people into groups and tell them that some are better and some are worse?

It’s true that some people find it easier to learn than others, but that doesn’t mean that the others can’t learn. People should be allowed to choose for themselves whether they’re capable of learning something or not.

My hypothesis is that the best system for grading our society is no system at all. What if we’re losing so many amazing and innovative ideas from people because they’re told that they aren’t good enough to give their opinions? Does everything we do have to be scored, or can we instead just be told how to improve?

I.Q. can also affect how people think of themselves in the opposite way. What if people think that a high I.Q. makes them better than others? Thinking you’re superior can lead to arrogance, and possibly pushing away potential friends and experiences. This could result the same as people ending up on the low side of the I.Q. spectrum; not wanting to learn anymore.

Having a high I.Q. could make people think that they have nothing more to learn, which is of course false, and limits the possibilities of what you can accomplish.

Everyone has more to learn, and you should never decide to stop educating yourself based on a number.

“People who boast about their I.Q. are losers.”

– Stephen Hawking

Image: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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