Advantages and disadvantages of IQ-Testing:
Most people are afraid of having their IQ tested. They fear the result may be lower than expected and, as a consequence, they would have to face their previous arrogance. The diagnosis of giftedness also comes with a risk of stigmatization. There is a risk of being defined mainly by giftedness and being met with prejudice.
This is why you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of IQ-testing.
Advantages are that you may be able to clarify what behavior patterns and potential difficulties are associated with and that you can assess yourself better. You also get access to resources, such as networks of gifted people with diverse offers, and the possibility to meet and exchange ideas with other gifted people. There’s also an increased possibility of receiving a scholarship. An official diagnosis of giftedness may also be necessary in an education context, because schools may not accept giftedness without proof and deny affirmative action.
The disadvantage is a risk of stigmatization.
Depending on the test results, there’s an influence on the sense of self-worth. If giftedness is confirmed, most people gain self-worth and a sense of assurance. If giftedness is disconfirmed, many people are disappointed and need to process this information first.
Both outcomes must be integrated into the self-image and some people may find it sensible to seek support.
If giftedness is discovered later in life, processing this information is likely to take longer, usually revolving around the issues of self-esteem and self-image, identity, potential grief for missed opportunities and possibilities for integrating giftedness.
Another factor is that a diagnosis of giftedness can affect the "systems" in which the gifted person lives, e.g. the family, school, or company. Here, things may shift in a positive or negative direction, e.g. parental support, sibling relationships, the status in the classroom, attitudes of teachers, superiors and colleagues, etc.
These effects of IQ-testing should be discussed and assessed beforehand, so that the potentially gifted person can decide whether the advantages or disadvantages prevail.
Interesting facts about IQ-Testing:
- The IQ is a percentile rank, not an absolute value. It shows the relative position to the group.
- Boys are much more likely to be sent to an IQ-test than girls. Immigrants, as well as people with ADHD, dyslexia or dyscalculia also often go unrecognized. In these cases, giftedness should be considered even if the signs are small, and an IQ-test should be offered sooner.
- The IQ is age-standardized and we can observe the so-called Flynn effect: Intelligence seems to increase. On average, a child born in 2018 has more abilities than a child born in previous years. This implies that only IQ tests with current standardization should be used for testing, otherwise the IQ will be overestimated. Standardization should never be older than 10-12 years.
- A low IQ can be faked, but not a high one (exception: You know the test, or practiced intensively with similar tasks.)
- Repeated testing should only be carried out if incorrect measurements or unfavorable measuring conditions can be assumed. Due to memory effects, the same test should not be used again for at least one year.
- IQ-assessment is a measurement of potential, i.e. when you repeat the test, the highest value counts.
- The IQ value isn’t stable until (a child is) about 12 years of age.
- Tip: The HAWIK provides a prognostic estimate for younger children by calculating the GAI value (General Ability Index). Even very young children can be tested if need be. In that case, you should seek out an experienced professional and consider that the IQ fluctuates before 12 years of age.
- Many highly gifted people are slower in perception speed compared to their rapid logical abilities. Some describe perceiving themselves as slow. This is often misinterpreted as a low IQ.
- Due to the rare occurrence of very high IQ values (≥ 145), there are standardization deficits. Statements such as: "XY has an IQ of 200" are scientifically questionable.
- The IQ does not seem to be normally distributed. There is evidence of clustering around 160 IQ points.
How and where to test?
A good way to get an impression is the 20-online test provided by Mensa. You will not receive a precise IQ-value, but feedback on whether there is a high likelihood of giftedness and whether it’s worth taking the extensive IQ-test. You may still be highly intelligent even if you are not recommended the extensive test. You may simply not have exceeded the arbitrarily set mark of 130. You can take this test anonymously under www.mensa.de.
In case you’ve decided to take the test, I recommend paying attention to the qualifications and experience of the tester and take the test with an experienced psychologist, psycho-therapist, pedagogue, or specialized occupational therapist. Many of the therapists on the therapist register are qualified testers.
Another, nationwide directory with addresses of qualified testers can be found on the Fachportal Hochbegabung of the Kargstiftung
Another, inexpensive option is the Mensa group tests, which take place throughout Germany. Information on this can also be found at www.mensa.de.
Free tests are carried out by schools, school boards, or public institutions, but only if there is an explicit need, e.g. difficulties in school or upcoming career choice. Here you need to consider data protection and privacy, because the testing (and results) will be documented in the school’s, or job center’s records.
Even though reliable IQ-tests are calibrated against each other, there are some differences: There are tests that are largely free of language or culture, or tests that can be used to create a detailed profile, e.g. for career guidance, and others. A good and experienced tester will usually have several tests available and choose the most suitable one.
You can find a very good overview of serious IQ-tests and their specifics at the Karg Foundation at www.fachportal-hochbegabung.de/intelligenz-tests/
If you want to use the IQ test to be admitted to a gifted association, it is advisable to ask the association which tests they accept. This information can usually be found on the association's website..
© Frauke Niehues