Intelligence testing, usually in the form of an intelligence quotient (IQ) test, has been used as a proxy for measuring intelligence for decades. The IQ test and other related intelligence tests remain one of the most accurate ways that we have of measuring certain forms of intelligence, even though they are essentially only a measure of IQ rather than intelligence itself. There are several criticisms of the IQ test and intelligence testing in general: their lack of accuracy, potential for racial and cultural bias, the fact that they do not measure certain types of intelligence, and their specificity. As a result of these issues, this paper argues that intelligence tests should not be used to select people for admission to schools or for employment, since these tests are an unfair and sometimes biased assessment of a person’s capacity for success.
Intelligence tests are given as a way of measuring intelligence in people who take them. The most common of these tests is the IQ test, which is actually a combination of several different IQ tests that have their scores combined to create a broader picture of intelligence (Andrews, 2003). The benefit of an standardized intelligence test is that intelligence is a tricky concept to measure, which means that we must rely on proxies such as the IQ test to make an assessment of intelligence (Andrews, 2003). These have historically been useful in contexts where we want to compare like against like. In a scientific study, for example, it might not matter as much as to whether intelligence tests are measuring every part of a person´s ability if the study aims just to compare the results of an IQ test before and after an event or between two groups. In the wider world, there are a number of problems with IQ tests that mean that they are not very accurate.
Racial bias in testing is probably the most important issue with intelligence testing that has been used as an argument as to why it should not be used to select people for admission to schools or for employment. The IQ test was originally designed to be an impartial measure of intelligence that would help to eradicate the differences in test scores between certain racial groups due to systemic racism (Wicherts & Dolan, 2010). Despite this, there is evidence that the skills on intelligence tests are still affected by education and schooling and some people can teach themselves to get better at IQ tests. Someone who regularly takes IQ tests will be more familiar with what they have to do on the test and perhaps more comfortable with it than someone who does not, which leads to bias. The fact that African Americans, for example, typically score similarly to Caucasian Americans after the IQ test has been administrated a few times suggests that the difference between these two groups on the first IQ test is not inherent (Wicherts & Dolan, 2010).
Another major criticism of intelligence testing is that it does not measure all types of intelligence. In this case, there are many different tests that can be used to measure intelligence as seen in the IQ test, emotional intelligence, aptitude, practical intelligence, and so on. These are, however, rarely administered together in a situation where a school or employer wants to assess intelligence (Deary, 2006). This means that those who might excel at a school or in a certain role because of their broad range of intelligences may be excluded based on an IQ test because this test does not measure a multitude of skills. It is unfair that someone who might be excellent at a job should be excluded from it just because of their score on this type of test.
A final issue that many people have with IQ tests is their specificity. Essentially, they just measure how good someone is at taking IQ tests even though there is some correlation with how well a person will do in school. The connection between IQ score and school grades is correlated but it is not the exact same line, which suggests that some people with high IQ could have issues that prevent them from doing well in school. The specificity of the IQ test and other intelligence tests also means that someone who might be very good at, for example, English Literature would be prevented from going to their favorite school because their spatial reasoning test portion was not high enough, even if their verbal ability was high (Deary, 2006). It is only a shallow measure of these abilities and they are all given equal weighting.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why intelligence testing should not be used as part of admission processes for schools and for recruitment purposes. They are potentially biased against people from different races. They are also not a measure of different types of intelligence, some of which might be more important to the role or school offer than IQ test score. The final issue discussed here is that they are very specifically only a measure of the skills in the IQ test. These intelligence testing scores do correlate with how well someone does in school, but they are not a perfect measure of intelligence because they are very specific. This means that there needs to be a better and more appropriate way of judging whether someone will do well in a course or a job because intelligence testing has these issues.