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Intelligence testing Essay

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Updated: Sep 18th, 2019


Intelligence entangles one of the subjects widely addressed in psychology. However, many scholars do not have a harmonized definition of what it constitutes. Some of the scholars hold the opinion of intelligence as a general ability, while others stick to the idea that intelligence entangles varying aptitudes, talents and skills.

Theories of intelligence

Spearman “…a psychologist from Britain, used the factor analysis concept to describe an intelligence theory he referred to as the general intelligence by examining various mental aptitudes” (Cherry, 2011, Para. 2) Charles observes that individuals who performed excellently in one cognitive test had the highest probabilities of doing better in other tests.

Those who did badly in one test also reflected so in other tests. Consequently, he concluded that “intelligence is general cognitive ability that could be measured and numerically expressed” (Cherry, 2011, Para. 3).

The theory of primary mental abilities, put forward by Louis Thurston, looks at intelligence from a seven-mental-capability perspective point of view opposed from a general single ability point of view. The seven abilities that he described include reasoning, spatial visualization, perceptual speed, numerical ability, associative memory, verbal comprehension and word fluency.

In the Triarchic theory, Sternberg (1985, p. 45) laments that intelligence is “mental activity directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection and shaping of, real-world environments relevant to one’s life”. Multiple intelligence theory, postulated by Howard Gardner, ignores the test score analysis subscribing eight intelligences laid on the foundation of abilities and skills appreciated within differing societal cultures.

Triarchic theory of intelligence

Triarchic theory takes into corporation three facets: practical or conceptual sub theory, analytical or experiential and componential or analytical sub theories.

According to this theory, one can measure and test analytical intelligence theory using his/her capability levels of solving academic problems such as analogies or puzzles, which correspond well to the individual’s prior componential intelligence.

Sternberg (1985, p. 47) strongly inclines to the idea that “Analytical Intelligence (Academic problem-solving skills) is based on the joint operations of meta-components, performance and knowledge acquisition components of intelligence”.

The meta-components have the responsibility of evaluating, controlling and monitoring the cognitive processing abilities of an individual constituting the highest hierarchical order components that organize all other components of performance. The creative facet entangles insights capacity to respond to various noble stimuli and synthesis of these stimuli. Practical facet draws the capacity to grasp followed by amicable understanding of information then reflected in daily routines.

Sternberg (1985, p.103) says that the intelligence encompasses “Purposive adaptation to, shaping of, and selection of real-world environments relevant to one’s life”. Practical intelligence is a repercussion formed by the capability to actively adapt with respect to the environment so as to ensure objectives and goals are met, adjust accordingly as the novel situations vary and in case the priory mentioned two combinations fail, the individual relocates to a new environment.

Multiple intelligence theory

Howard Gardner claims, “…expressions of human intelligence are not a full and accurate depiction of people’s abilities” (Cherry, 2011, Para. 5). In his theory of multiple intelligence, therefore, he deviated from Charles Spearman’s theory approach, which indicted that “intelligence is general cognitive ability that could be measured and numerically expressed” (Cherry, 2011, Para. 6).

Gardener described eight characteristics that he totally believed could constitute intelligence. The intelligences in this theory include naturalistic, musical, logical mathematical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, verbal linguistic, bodily kinesthetic and visual spatial intelligence. This theory offers the criteria for selecting the abilities that warrants for inclusion in the formation of any intelligence model for testing.

Effectiveness of intelligence testing

Based on methods such as those put forward by Stanford Binet, Wechsler (WAIS) and WAIS-IV, intelligence testing proves effective in several ways. For instance, it gives opportunities for determination of the students who critically require special services. The intelligence testing methods prove effective in the determination of risk factors when it comes to delinquent behavior relationships particularly when deficiencies in students need to be determined.

Consequently, “By administering the IQ test, educators stand a good chance to determine which students have deficiencies, as well as what these deficiencies are” (Anastasi, 1996, p.53). Realization of such deficiencies in good time is vital if at all, the teachers wish to get the appropriate corrective measures worth implementing to ensure students back to norm in good time.

IQ tests too stand out as effective measures of intelligence since their results correlate with the measures of general knowledge such as SAT and ACT. “The American Psychological Association has found that those students who score well on an intelligence test have higher grades and learn/retain more of what they are learning in school than classmates with low IQ scores” (Anastasi, 1996, p.87).

Even in the light of effectiveness of the intelligence testing methods, critics’ record some dissatisfaction by arguing out that they poses some downfalls. One enormous down fall is that the intelligence testing fails to incorporate environmental factors which may account for the observed differences in the intelligence levels among students.

The tests also do not cover a wider spectrum of variables that may constitute intelligence such the ones identified in the multiple intelligence theory. Consequently, a larger number of students remain left out based on the consideration of their giftedness. This omission is critical since one can use IQ tests to determine an individual’s ability, which in turn reflects itself in job performance.


People perceive intelligence as the general ability or their varying aptitudes, talents and skills. As discussed in the paper, four theories need substantial consideration in arriving at a parameter to measure intelligence levels. However, the existing intelligence testing methods among students remain crucial if at all academic deficiencies in schools need be identified and solved fast enough before students possessing them get out of track.


Anastasi, A. (1996). Psychological testing (7th ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Cherry, K. (2011). Theories of intelligence. Retrieved from

Sternberg, R. (1985). Beyond IQ: A Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

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