Intellectual ability is a varied and diverse concept, even from the earliest of times man had often wondered how to know or what makes an individual better or more gifted than another or another intellectually disabled. This inquisitively gave rise to intelligence testing, from the beginning of time. This interest in knowing differences in intelligence had been predicated on observing people’s behaviour in daily life (this has translated to adaptive functioning, this will be thoroughly discussed later) with many myths at the beginning such as big head, eyes etc. often used or tied to higher intelligence even phrenology which developed in the Europe and found root in the US was at a time used to indicate Intelligence Quotient (IQ).
Later on, there were suggestions later that there are specific parts of the brain such as Broca area which are responsible for general mental power. More recent understanding had enlightened us about this. Until the advent of standardized psychological intelligence tests, humans were given the idea that intelligence was ability to learn, to develop a new way of doing something. The real journey into standardized testing started from Wundt’s Leipzig first psychology laboratory, then the experiences of Galton and his creation of mental test in 1890, the works of Cattel a student of Galton and good to note that the term ‘mental tests’ was first coined by Cattel and people started embracing mental testing and he established The Famous “Psychological Corporation” which is in existence till date. Binet entered psychology through the back door after having emotional issues but after a long tortuous road got an appointment with Theodore Simon to develop an assessment for mentally retarded in France giving birth to the first intelligence test Binet -Simon Intelligence test, Stern developed the IQ idea around this time, Terman an American became interested in Binets tests after he encountered problems in measuring IQ in his PhD work , when he started work in Stanford university revised the Simo- binet and gave us the standard score of IQ and birth of Stanford -Binet test.
From that point to the world war 1 and the need for special intelligence from military officers to enhance performance made Robert Yerkes and his group to develop Alpha and Beta exams with somewhat different components to test abilities for the American military.
Fast forward to today we now have a variety of IQ tests from Wechsler range of batteries (WPPSI-IV, WISC-5, WAIS -IV, WNV), Kaufman assessment batteries (KABC, KBIT-2) etc.
Why intelligence tests.
There are many things that affect an individual today which can limit the ability to become successful, but more importantly those things that has more to do about our mental processes. This is often noticed first when a child is taken to an academic environment and teachers start complaining about inability to grasp new information, remember simple information, speak delay in speech, articulating thought or do simple actions without being taught again and again. In every sense, we want to know what is wrong. In David Wechsler’s words “the global capacity of a person to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment” (1939).
Therefore, these tests measure learning abilities, ability to retain information, abilities to quickly react and do appropriate behaviours
The intelligence tests help us to create the environment to help a child become scholarly excellent, know what might be wrong and remediation/intervention for such limitations. Of course, these tests do not predict success in life
At the end of the day, you can measure anything on any scale. Even you can use any test to get results you’re interested in but is it appropriate to be used? Is it interpreted the way it should? Is the information in context of other influencing variables? This is because results are only as useful as the way the test is been conducted. How you use that information or how you react emotionally to it are very important.
Someone might say these tests are not 100 percent accurate, yes, no testing instrument in the world in every field today is, yes, they all misses the mark once in a while. So also, our psychological measures are. It is in their nature to miss the mark sometimes. However, if the score was wrong because of incompetence, we should be angry at incompetent test administrators. We should be angry at institutions that use IQ tests to justify oppression. However, if the grossly incorrect test score was obtained by a competent, caring, and conscientious clinician, we have to accept that there are limits to what can be known. Competent, caring, and conscientious clinicians understand these limits and factor their uncertainty into their interpretations and into any decisions based on these interpretations. If an institution uses test scores to make high-stakes decisions, the institution should have mechanisms in place to identify its mistakes
As professionals who use standardized tests, we need to communicate what it is that we actually do. Standardized tests provide a sort of anchor point for human judgment. Unaided human reason is typically very bad at calculating relevant probabilities. Without standardized tests, hard decisions about diagnosis and qualification for services will still be made, but they will be made in a more haphazard manner.
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