IQ tests are designed for young people

My damn high IQ and how I got it

Writing about your IQ is like announcing your weight publicly. In principle, nobody cares, and yet everybody has to look involuntarily.

My roommate refuses to estimate my IQ. I will certainly achieve over 100 points in a test, but he does not want to be more precise. After all, I would have reacted very sensitively when he once said that he could cook as well as I did (he can't, honestly!).

In fact, I am so offended. For one thing, "sensitive" in this context means either conceited or humorless; neither is very nice. On the other hand, half of the population achieved 100 or more points on an IQ test. And that's where the fun ends for me: I am firmly convinced that I have above-average intelligence, and accordingly disappointed that my roommate does not allow himself to be carried away with the same assessment.

Every IQ test has to be able to do this

There is not just one IQ test, but numerous variants, but all are designed so that the most common value is 100. Overall, the results of an IQ test must be normally distributed; so there should be the same number of symmetrically arranged values ​​to the left and right of the center; the more extreme the result, the fewer cases. If an intelligence test gives different results, it is poorly designed.

By definition, almost 70 percent of all test subjects achieve a result between 85 and 115 points and are therefore considered normal. Whoever scores more points falls into the “gifted” category. 2 percent of the population even achieve values ​​of 130 or more. These lucky ones belong to the small circle of the gifted.

Hesitant self-assessment

I wouldn't go that far with my self-assessment: While I am convinced that my IQ is above 115, I have no hope that I can crack the 130 mark. In the end, the cut of my high school grades was only wafer-thin above the four.

Even if I can partly explain this with laziness, I suspect that really highly intelligent people in physics and chemistry cannot be as profoundly bad as I was. And so I was a bit dull when my former boss estimated my IQ at 150. I expect a serious answer from him and not an exaggerated figure, which he ridicules even further with five exclamation marks.

The IQ is actually quite a serious thing. Finally, he is called in by psychologists when it comes to important questions such as the choice of educational path for children and adolescents or studies for young adults. Employers also rely in part on the standardized tests: These can often predict better whether someone will be up to a certain task than flowery letters of motivation or job interviews.

Above average stupid

The first forerunners of today's tests were developed in France at the beginning of the 20th century. You should identify “feeble-minded” children at an early stage. On the contrary, many parents today try to use the IQ test to prove that their child is highly intelligent - which reminds me of a joke: "Our child is highly gifted, teacher!" say the parents. "Unfortunately I have to disappoint you," he replies. "You are just above average stupid!"

A colleague tries to pull herself out of the affair with this joke when I ask her for an IQ estimate. It has now become clear to me that, on the one hand, it is a violation of social conventions to ask the question about IQ. On the other hand, I also know that it is not that easy to deal with the answers.

It's a bit like asking people to estimate my weight. Either they try to evade the task with joking estimates well above and below the correct number, or they explain at length how they come up with the number. Both are uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Cafeteria for gifted students

At some point I can no longer avoid the test and the result associated with it. It is clear to me that the choice of test definitely influences the result: the more a procedure weights linguistic competencies, the better for me; the more you have to calculate, the less chances I see for a place in the top ranks.

The test that the network makes available online for gifted cafeterias free of charge doesn't exactly suit me: not a single question tests language comprehension. I can only solve the first three or four questions off the cuff, then things get really tricky pretty quickly. I do my best and get a disappointing answer: My chances of getting the necessary 130 points in the entrance test of the gifted club are slim. I don't know how close I missed the target. But I suspect nothing good.

Sobering first result

Now I'm happy that at least many of my friends think I'm above average intelligent. Maybe the cafeteria test is calibrated for men, so I try to explain the result to myself, maybe I was too tired after a long day at work.

I repeat the cafeteria test two days later, well rested and doped with black chocolate. This time I feel like I'm doing a lot better. This is the second time I'm thinking about the questions. But in the end the same disappointing result comes out: the chances of 130 points are not good. Even if I didn't think I'd break the magic mark, I can't deny the disappointment.

What the IQ test really measures

In contrast to the first time, however, I am now fit and creative enough to blame the sub-optimal performance on factors that have nothing to do with my true intelligence. But I know the answer to the frequently asked question of whether an IQ test really measures intelligence. It is simply yes.

As early as 1923, the experimental psychologist Edwin Boring determined that intelligence is what an intelligence test measures. However, in contrast to weight, age or number of children, intelligence is not a clearly measurable value, but a constantly evolving construction of psychology; and the method by which the value is measured is provided by the scientists with the construction.

Flattery tests galore

I am looking for another online test, convinced that I will find one in the vastness of the Internet that will describe my IQ a little more precisely. If you enter the term IQ test on Google, the search engine delivers almost 17 million results.

Many of the tests, however, give out overly flattering results - a test like this went around on Facebook a few months ago, dozens of my friends were happy to be among the smartest 2 percent of the population - which is still better than this one friend from the USA proudly proclaiming an IQ of 85.

New test, new luck

In the end I found what I was looking for: a test at Spiegel online that was validated by over 200,000 users. The tasks are much more diverse than in the cafeteria test. Grinning with satisfaction, I click my way through proverbs and opposites. Later I fold cubes in front of my inner eye, my spatial thinking is at its best.

My ears are glowing, my office colleague is probably wondering what I'm clicking around on the Internet again, but that's very serious research. The other colleague in the office gave an interesting answer to my question as to how many points one could make up by practicing: the IQ is not a stable value anyway, but a fluctuating point within a certain range.

Click correctly, earn points

In fact, I succeed in what I had hoped so much: I use my full potential in the mirror test: I keep running my finger across the screen in disbelief, comparing my score with the value in the column with my age. I got exactly 130 points. Black and white, a screenshot must suffice as evidence. I am not convinced that I will ever be able to replicate the result. But at that moment I am very sure that it is true.