IQ test

A friend is working on her Ph.D. in psychology and needed a victimvolunteer to take an I.Q. test. It would be filmed, so her professor could review her testing technique. Most potential volunteers backed down when they found out she’s not allowed to reveal the results of the test (she’s not certified). Without revealing actual questions, which I think would reduce the effectiveness of the test, here’s how it played out…


The first round was “What’s wrong with the picture?” Most of the items were straightforward: objects defying laws of physics. On a few of them, I couldn’t see anything. They could have been control cases. There were no dogs playing poker.

The next exercise focused on short term memorization. She read a sequence of numbers and I had to read them back, in the same order. On the longer sequences, I found it was easier to do this by “chunking” digits. For example, if she read “one” “six” “nine”, I could remember it as “169”. Later, there was a variant of this exercise involving letters and numbers. The goal was to read the list back in sorted form, numbers first, then letters. For example, if she read “q” “ten” then I’d have to read it as “ten q.” This was much harder.

There was a bank of questions I’d refer to as “general trivia,” spanning science, culture, history and geography.
The questions got progressively harder. I didn’t know who one of the famous people was (I commented she might as well ask me about Pliny the Elder), nor could I name the author of the only opera I’ve ever seen. I was chagrined that I hesitated on naming a capital of a European country though, inexplicably, I knew the name and date of the treaty leading to its designation. (I’ve since looked all of them up.) I made up for it by going Cliff Claven on the science questions.
She had to keep a straight face while responded to “At what temperature does water freeze?” by answering with the temperature in Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Kelvin, then adding how this would really vary whether the water had impurities.

The math problems started relatively simple, then worked up to the slightly trickier “If shirts are two for $17 and you buy a dozen, how much money do you spend?” I spend a lot of time in grocery stores mentalling calculating prices per unit, so these were easy, though I could see how people would get side tracked. Another exercise involved transcribing random shapes and comparing them to a sequence of shapes in the list. This was harder because the check boxes were on the right side of the page, and I had to keep moving my (left) hand back and forth, obscuring the next line of shapes.

There was a set of triangle patterns I had to replicate using square blocks. (Two sides red, two sides white, two sides with a diagonal.) The hardest of these was rotated in such a way that you had to work from the “red” center outside. This was a similar exercise to one I remember doing back in 2nd grade when I had my first IQ test.

The vocabulary definition section was easier than I have experienced on previous tests, though I did notice a theme among the words. There was another quiz where I was to name the things that two words had in common. For example, “Lust” and “Gluttony” are among the seven deadly sins, generally ‘bad’ traits. There was some latitude for creativity in answering, though I think she was looking for particular keywords.

The final section was a free-form answering questions about society and why things are. For example, “What are the benefits of a free press?” I couldn’t help interjecting several editorial comments related to current events, no doubt a symptom of watching too many political debates. If there’s a Cynicism Quotient, I’ve not only raised the bar, but also have taken it out on a whirlwind road trip.

It was a grueling two hours… for me, too, but I had fun doing it. I asked her a bunch of questions on the testing methodologies, mostly out of curiousity. When her course is over, she’s promised to lend me the books so I can read more. Cool!

5 thoughts on “IQ test”

  1. Uh, is it a good idea to go publishing the contents of IQ tests on the web? It might threaten its validity.

    We did an exercise measuring neuropsychological deficits, where we had to be really careful who we told what was in it. Nah, its probably different.

    Nice Site btw.

  2. heh…
    You did say “Without revealing actual questions, which I think would reduce the effectiveness of the test”

    Ignore my previous comment – I shouldn’t browse blogs while tired.

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