Out of all the classes I’ve taken in my senior year of high school, the one I find the most useful is AP Psychology. In the first semester, we covered things from the history of psychology to the functions of the brain to sleep to memory. The chapter we are on now is Intelligence and Psychological Testing, which is very important when it comes to testing for learning disabilities and helping people find out what they are good at.
The idea of measuring intelligence started with Sir Francis Galton late in the 19th century, who studied the idea of intelligence being hereditary. Later came Albert Binet and Theodore Simon in 1905, who made a test to identify the mental ability of children. (This was originally to see if an education on a child would be a waste). The idea was improved with Lewis Terman. Later, David Wechsler made an adult version. The Wechsler version tests verbal skills (vocabulary, information, comprehension, arithmetic, etc.) and performance skills (picture completion, digit symbol, and block design.)
To test for learning disabilities on two different occasions, I was stuck in a room completing the Wechsler test for hours and hours. It was grueling to be honest. With some tests I was in the 90+ percentile; others I had such a bad score they wondered how I made it that far. I was particularly high in verbal reasoning, but my reading scores were abysmal. My IQ ended up being in the high 120s to low 130s. I can’t remember the exact number. The test tests for potential intelligence levels, not how smart I am. The average score is 100 and if you are below 70 or so, you are considered mentally retarded.
Great, right? I have the potential of really being smart! Well, in Psychology, we took another IQ test. It wasn’t the Wechsler. It was some 25-minute test with random junk that was simply impossible for me. I got an IQ of 18, which basically means I’m a vegetable.
Huge drop, obviously. The conclusion I came to is that intelligence tests are not always reliable. How could I possibly drop over 100 points? My Psych textbook (Psychology:Themes and Variations, Wayne Weiten) says IQ tests produce consistent results (p. 345), but this is obviously not the case when it comes to me. Was it just a fluke? A girl in 1st period got an IQ of 40 and she is in no way mentally retarded. My point is, although IQ testing has come along way, there is obviously work to be done still.
As for personality testing, my tests all seem to be accurate, but that’s just my testing. I Googled free Psych tests because I was bored and I didn’t feel like reading my Psychology textbook. (It was a compromise with myself.) It was all accurate: I’m an extrovert; I hate being alone; I love responsibility; I make decisions with my feelings; I’m very emotional and easily upset; I love working in groups. However, I don’t know if it’s just my results that are accurate.
As in all Science classes, there is still more to be discovered when it comes to Psychological testing. In 40 years when they are testing for learning disabilities or using personality tests to help high school students find good career paths, it will be much more effective, I presume. For now, that’s just not the case.