What Are the Benefits of Intelligence Testing?

Intelligence testing, also known as Intelligence Quotient (IQ) testing, is a way of evaluating a person's intellectual ability. It can be used to evaluate an infant's neurological development, to insure a student is progressing through the educational system, to assign new soldiers to the proper military positions, or to predict whether a candidate will function properly in a new job or a new school.

  1. History

    • In the early 1900s (after a law was passed that required all children to be educated), the French government commissioned psychologist Alfred Binet to develop a test to identify which children might need extra help. Binet compiled lists of questions that could be answered by children of certain ages. The children's "mental age" was determined based upon their answers to the questions. The mental age was divided by the physical age, then multiplied by 100 to compute IQ. Similar tests are still used for the same purpose. In WWI, the U.S. Army began using IQ tests to classify incoming soldiers. These tests were modified to measure things like leadership ability. After WWII, work continued on intelligence testing. Modern concepts include different tests for specific areas (mathematics, verbal, mechanical, etc.). Current tests set the average at 100 and rank test takers compared to the average.


    • Intelligence testing has many benefits. For the test taker, the results can serve as a guide when making decisions regarding which careers to pursue and which to avoid. Professional organizations can use intelligence testing to ensure that the right person is being placed in the right job. For educators, these tests can help to identify which students need extra help, which was Binet's original aim. Almost all subsequent test makers have agreed with Binet that there is no single number that indicates intelligence, which is why there are now modern batteries of tests in particular subject areas. An added benefit of the partitioning of IQ tests into aptitude tests is that intelligence testing can now be used by career counselors to guide students in their future career choices.


    • The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) test has been developed for children between the ages of 6 and 16. The test can be taken without reading or writing. There is a vocabulary part of the test (define a word), but there are also parts with questions (presented orally) about common knowledge or social situations. The advantage of the WISC test is that intelligence can be determined independent of reading ability. In addition to the WISC test, there are nonverbal tests for infants that consist of reactions to situations. For example, when a child is handed an object, he will typically exhibit different behaviors (grasping, biting, shaking, etc.) at different ages. The benefit of these tests is that neurological development can be assessed before language develops. The Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT) provides an IQ test for deaf or non-English-speaking subjects. It consists of puzzles, mazes and small parts to assemble. The benefit of UNIT is that it provides a fair test for IQ in a select population.

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