Intelligence and SAT’s

I’m just in the middle of Debbie Stiers ‘The Perfect Score Project‘ (recommended by Gretchen Rubin) where Debbie sat the SAT 7 times in a year to get a perfect score and to motivate her son to get good enough grades to qualify for financial support and survive the competition with all those clever foreigners vying for his future job in the current depressed economy (times are quite bad, though I’m not sure if the foreigners are the problem. I think money creation ) is the problem).

As part of Debbie’s project she underwent a barrage of IQ tests and found them very similar to the SATs, they were both developed by the same person in the US and there are tables to convert one to an estimate of the other.

Debbie then wondered if she should announce her SAT scores. She felt IQ is fixed and unchangeable, therefore personal (and she has not announced her IQ score), while SAT results are influenced by study and therefore mutable and therefore OK to announce (also as the name of the book suggests: Debbie did improve her score).

The interesting thing is that SAT used to mean Scholastic Aptitude Test and was supposed to measure something unchanging and fixed (like IQ). Once enough companies grew up promising to improve your score, and were shown to work (1975), it became the Scholastic Assessment Test (1990-93).

This ties in to Dan Hurley’s book Smarter: The New Science of Building Brain Power looking at whether you can improve intelligence. The answer (officially according to the science) used to be no, but there is a new field, only 6 years old, saying actually yes it can (a bit controversial). This contrasts with the SAT’s as similar to an IQ test which were though to be unchangeable, but are now known to be studyable, and with various friends who have assured me that a)intelligence can be increased and this has been known for years (psychology degree); b) this is rubbish and intelligence can’t be changed (psychiatrist).


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