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The topic about the connection between students’ GPA and their intelligence levels has sparked a heated debate among scholars. On one side of the divide, some scholars argue that GPA is a good measure of intelligence (Hunt, 2010). The supporters of the view argue that GPA reflects a person’s ability to read and understand an academic work. Given that intelligence means the possession of the ability to read, understand, and apply the knowledge to solve issues, one must be intelligent enough to pass an exam. In this regard, only the intelligent people have the ability to pass exams. This claim implies that GPA is a perfect measure of intelligence. However, other scholars dispute the view by citing that exam malpractices may compromise the accuracy of the GPA. Skeptics of the view also cite that students study to pass in exams, implying that they must not be intelligent to excel in the said test. Therefore, although GPA may be regarded as an excellent measure of intelligence, this paper argues otherwise and that employers should not use it to make hiring decisions. To achieve the objective, the paper analyzes three arguments supporting the idea that GPA is not a good tool for assessing intelligence. Additionally, the paper summarizes two arguments, which justify the use of GPA to measure intelligence.
Arguments to Dispute the Use of GPA to Measure Intelligence
In as much as GPA is perceived as a gauge for cleverness, it does not accurately measure one’s capability. The view is informed by the fact that students are informed in advance about an upcoming exam, a plan that gives them enough time to study. In most cases, students are under intense pressure from parents to achieve high GPAs. This situation compels them to study hard to achieve the stated objective. At times, students cram a few days to the exam period to achieve high grades. A student who only memorizes class contents to pass a test cannot be regarded as intelligent (Muammar, 2011). Additionally, the current education system does not fully prevent cheating in exams. Numerous cases of exam cheating have been reported in the past. This observation raises the question of the reliability of GPAs. The problem is associated with the lack of stringent legislations to prevent exam cheating. Additionally, the emergence of private schools has contributed greatly to exam cheating since schools tend to achieve high average GPAs to attract more customers. The complexity of fighting exam cheating is compounded by the fact that some corrupt officials collude with school heads to enable students to cheat in exams. In colleges too, students bribe their lecturers to be awarded high marks. Such malpractices cause them to pass their exams, irrespective of their levels of intelligence. Therefore, employers who rely on GPAs to recruit their employees may end up hiring the wrong persons.
Apart from the argument about exam malpractices, opponents of the use of GPA to measure intelligence also rely on the assumption that majority of successful businesspeople in the world did not achieve high GPAs. Intelligence simply means the ability by a person to do what is right to achieve success in any endeavor. The main purpose of studying is to achieve success in the future. Today, such success is measured by assessing a person’s financial stability (Fallahzadeh, 2011). Therefore, if a person achieves success in life, he or she is presumed to be intelligent. Persons in business must be highly intelligent to achieve success since they have to make numerous decisions in the course of doing trade. Given the stiff competition in the contemporary business environment, a businessperson must make the right decision to triumph. Therefore, intelligence is central to successful businesses since it helps people to make viable investment decisions. Interestingly, some of the most successful businesspeople are not academically successful. This situation prompts them to venture into business. If GPA would actually be a measure of intelligence, businesspeople would then have to achieve high grades to be successful in business. Based on the view, it may be concluded that GPA is not a good measure of intelligence.
Lastly, the argument about the ineffectiveness of GPA in measuring one’s intelligence is substantiated by the fact that the current academic system is outdated and that it does not offer an opportunity for students to acquire the necessary intelligence. The current education systems in most countries in the world impart theoretical knowledge on students, as opposed to practical skills. A good system should train students both theoretical and practical skills. Under the current systems, GPAs only reflect theoretical competence and not the practical skills. In this regard, GPA may not be a good measure of intelligence.
Arguments to Support the Use of GPA to Measure Intelligence
One of the arguments that the supporters of the view about the effectiveness of GPA as a measure of intelligence cite is that education provides the basis for intelligence acquisition. Although the current education system seems outdated, some subjects are crucial to the acquisition of intelligence. Subjects such as math are crucial for all learners, despite their career since everybody needs the skills to triumph even in business. This claim tends to dispute the argument that most successful businesspersons around the globe achieved low academic grades. Although such people did not score high grades in school, they acquired some considerable level of intelligence from their respective schools (Kleisner, Chvátalová, & Flegr, 2014). Here, GPA may be said to be a good measure of intelligence since everyone has to go through a school to triumph in anything that he or she does. Proponents of the view about GPA as a measure of intelligence also claim that students who acquire high grades often end up joining the best universities. In colleges, they specialize in their preferred subjects, which earn them high paying jobs. Without the skills earned in such colleges, one cannot perform a complex task. This finding indicates that GPA is an important tool for measuring intelligence.
The other argument that is used by the supporters of GPA as a measure of cleverness is that students who score highly are the ones who work hard and/or who have the ability to learn, comprehend, and to apply the knowledge to solve different issues. Since exams are designed to assess a learner’s ability to comprehend and to use the concepts learned in class, GPA may be deemed an excellent measure of intelligence (Hall, 2009). The capability of a student to apply the knowledge to solve problems in an exam implies that he or she can equally deploy the knowledge to address practical problems in the real world. Going by this view, one may argue that a student who scores highly in exams is more intelligent relative to those who score lowly. Therefore, GPA is an effective tool for assessing a person’s intelligence.
The current education system in most countries around the globe measures students’ ability based on their performance in exams. The higher the grades learners achieve in an exam, the more intelligent they are perceived to be. Some scholars have supported this measure of intelligence based on academic grades while others have criticized it. In turn, this debate has ignited a heated debate among scholars. Some of them support the use of GPA to assess intelligence while others dispute it. Proponents of the view that GPA is a good measure of intelligence cite the fact that a student must be highly intelligent to score high GPA. The argument is founded on the claim that intelligence means the ability to understand or apply theoretical and practical skills to solve problems. On the other hand, opponents claim that numerous malpractices compromise exam grades and that students often cheat to excel in tests. Corruption among the officials in the education sector facilitates exam cheating, a situation that leads to exaggerated results. Therefore, GPA is not a reliable measure of intelligence. The other view that the opponents of the issue cite is that most businesspeople are intelligent, despite performing poorly in school. Lastly, the skeptics of the use of GPA to assess the intelligence of a person argue that GPA measures the theoretical skills, as opposed to the practical ones. However, based on the expositions tabled in this paper, it suffices to conclude that GPA is not a reliable measure of intelligence.
Fallahzadeh, H. (2011). The Relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement in medical science students in Iran. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30(1), 1461-1466.
Hall, P. (2009). Potential predictors of student teaching performance: Considering emotional intelligence. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ946014
Hunt, E. (2010). Human intelligence. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Kleisner, K., Chvátalová, V., & Flegr, J. (2014). Perceived intelligence is associated with measured intelligence in men but not women. PloS One, 9(3), 81237-81238.
Muammar, O. M. (2011). Intelligence and self-control predict academic performance of Gifted on Non-gifted students. Asia-Pacific Journal of Gifted and talented Education, 3(1), 18-32.