Monday, August 31, 2009

IQ and Standardized Testing - GREs...

So I totally feel like an idiot right now - I just took an IQ test (after spending I don't even know how many hours randomly browsing Wikipedia for the hell of it... I don't know why I'm still awake. My mind just jumps from one topic to another, & the site really just... Well, it doesn't help!) and somehow I got a score of 156. While previous tests ("legit," as in "official"...) confirm the same thing (well, a few points higher... solid 160 at one point...), I do not for a second believe this to be my true intelligence. 130 is the minimum cutoff for "superior intelligence" or the "genius" level as we used to call it. I am not a genius - I won't pretend to be one for a second. I've always been in the "well above average" range, in the honors programs, and I can't deny that-- but genius? Absolutely not. No fucking way. It's simply not possible. (-_-" Though an Occupational IQ Scale says that I fall into the range of Research Scientist... That is what I've been trained to be, and where I'm "supposed" to go, so I guess it's not that far off... ugh...) My PSAT and SAT scores were high, but not that high. I completely bombed the first (and only) GRE practice test I ever took. I am a disaster when it comes to standardized testing - I don't fit into their little box, and I never have.

As hard as they've tried, standardized tests will ALWAYS be biased. Take the GRE verbal section for example. Truck is to tunnel as boat is to:
a) river
b) bridge
c) bathtub
d) ocean

Now is it just me, or does that not make any damn sense whatsoever? The "trick" to analogies is making a sentence for them - "A truck travels through the tunnel... So a boat travels through..." Technically speaking, you can make up a fucking relationship between boat and any of those words... It's completely relative! Of course, there's supposed to be a right answer there (& since I don't remember what 4 options there really were to begin with... I think maybe canal was there instead of bridge, & I think boat may have actually been apple, but I'm probably making that up just so it all makes sense... Either way, it's beside the point...) but the only people who are aware of that "right answer" are the people who made up the stupid question in the first place. And if you don't know what any of those words mean - you're royally screwed- and believe me, those words are impossible-- even for me, the self-proclaimed Linguist and Grammar Fanatic who spent a lot of her childhood memorizing the dictionary because she ran out of books to read (yes, seriously... I'm a speed reader, & I literally couldn't sleep unless I read something, and Merriam Webster was the only thing I hadn't finished...)

I took one look at the practice book & started bawling. Yes, it's that scary. And for what? A number that determines how the rest of my life will go. A number that either says I'm not smart enough for a better life - that I'm only allowed my little bachelor's degree and a lower salary than someone who could afford a private tutor; Or that says I am smart enough to go to graduate school - that I know enough million-dollar words that I will NEVER use, that I remember math formulas I learned in 7th grade and never used again, that I am knowledgeable about the 2 month existence of the South Venezuelan 4th Parliamentary Hiatus (I'm making this up, but the essay question was really somewhere along these lines...)--!! It's simply ridiculous to expect everyone to be the same. We're not all the same, and we shouldn't have to be! We go to different colleges for a reason - generally they play to our strengths. We choose different programs for a reason. I'm a psych major. I have to be good with statistics, sociology, and basic bio & chem, but I don't have to know much of calculus anymore. So why is it on the GRE (& no calculator!!!)??? Even your personal statement, the 1 item that is supposed to tell grad schools who you are and explain your life's purpose (well ok, in the form of your career goals...), is basically scripted.

Your entire life, from birth til death, must follow a basic pattern. Your intelligence, or at least the "basic," useless knowledge you attain, must follow a pattern. You are expected to be just as efficient, exactly the same, as everyone else your age - even though you are different, your experiences are different, your life is different.

"Is this the life that you lead?
Or the life that's led for you?
Will you take the road that's been laid out before you?" ("Paper Wings," Rise Against)

Or will you make your own? Go read some Robert Frost... Be different, and love it. You only have 1 chance at this life, so make it count.

(I'll get around to replies to HC post later this week- there's an article I want to find.)

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