Good IQ score is equal to good chance in life? Surely, no or does it?

Most colleges and universities require student applicants to take their Entrance Examination or an employer asking the applicant to have an IQ or a standardized test, but is this really a measure to one’s success? Many tests include (but not limited to) Mathematical skills, English proficiency, scientific ability and Abstract Reasoning. But will these categories be enough to know someone’s worth in the future?

Overview of

standardized testing
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

First, let’s have a look at what a standardized test and an IQ test are:

According to Wikipedia, a standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent or “standard” manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.  While an intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence.

So do these two have a huge impact on one’s success? Let’s have a look from some research that I have gathered:

A recent study conducted by a team from University of Chicago led by a Noble Prize-winning economist Professor James Heckman shows that colleges or employers should rather focus on the applicant’s personality and attention to details rather than the result of an IQ test or any standardized one.  This research, as a discussion paper, was released by IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

Heckman is optimistic that this study may support efforts to stop colleges and universities’ admission on relying on standardized test results. This, incidentally is only beneficial to those who can afford a review class prior to taking the exam.

The researchers from Chicago and Maastricht in the Netherlands, on the other hand, used grades, IQ and personality to conduct a study aiming to correlate with achievement. Turns out, grades play a very vital role in one’s success and with wages, criminality rate, and whether or not they voted as factors measuring life’s outcome. Although none can really pinpoint the perfect result, as the study shows, it really does send a clear message that grades have more influence on future success than any standardized exams and IQ test will.

student learning
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Moreover, there has been debate whether standardized testing has an effect in student learning. To quote some, Hicks (2005) and Henry (2007) noted that “standardized test does not help students; in fact it may negatively affect one’s future.

School grade is accumulated throughout the years by hard work, dedication, perseverance, performance and mostly personality (surely if one procrastinates, I don’t think he can have good grades). All of these and more cannot be comprehended by a mere two-hour test and an IQ result. Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is a very good example to prove a point here. Gardner proposed this model in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. According to him, a person has at least 8 types of intelligence, so how would a mere two-hour test justify each?

Based on the data gathered, standardized tests and  cannot determine someone’s future success. However, as stated by John Eric Humphries, grades can be more accurate in predicting one’s future success because, according to him, grade measures your ability to do school work. It measures your knowledge of the material but also things like how well you do in taking test, going to class and doing your homework.