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Accuracy of IQ Testing

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter was tested for her inborn intelligence and it turns out that it is above average by 51 points. Teacher claimed that she could be gifted due to her observation in class through a series of games and activities for brain training. Hence when an IQ test was administered on her, she has IQ of 100 points, which is average.

Teacher claimed she was disappointed as it could be a misjudge. She used TONI 2 test. She also said that she did well for the first few sections but didn't sustain as she didn't want to carry on to complete the test items. She did complete it at last. Why is this so? Will an IQ test for 4 years and 3 months old child be accurate at this point? I am puzzled. when I spoke to my daughter, she claimed she didn't like to do such work because its not fun at all. She hates doing it and told me she doesn't want to do it again. Please advise. Thank you.

A: The TONI 2 (Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, 2nd edition) is a language-free measure of abstract problem-solving ability. This test is free of linguistic, motoric, and cultural factors and can be used for a range of age group; 5 through 85 years of age. Hence, in this case, your daughter is younger than the usual minimum age. For someone with above average inborn intelligence scores, I can understand your concern when her scores were average for the IQ test.

It must be noted that IQ tests are, and were originally designed to generate numbers that are useful in assessing academic aptitude within a given culture. They give us clues as to the probable success of children in our current educational system, although with less than perfect accuracy. Therefore, one should never rely too much on these numbers. In your daughter's case, it is obvious why she may not have done as well as you would like her to. She had indicated it herself - that it was not fun at all. Perhaps, at this point you should not test her further. I believe you know of her capabilities and thus are able to provide her with the necessary materials to further develop her potentials. If you want a retest, perhaps you should wait until when she is ready.

IQ tests should be used for specific purposes, such as to find out if the child has a learning disability or mentally challenged, if the child is gifted, if a child exhibits a discrepancy between ability and achievement and if the child qualifies for special education. If tests are used for labeling purposes alone, this may not be very healthy and will only turn parents into competitive adults as expectations are usually rather high. My advise is allow her to develop naturally and with some help to enhance her potential and allow her to decide whether she wants to take a test, unless if it is for a specific purpose.


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