Why Admissions Offices Shouldn't Take Test Scores as Serious

by Vault Education Editors | April 27, 2011

  • My Vault

Intelligence tests are thought to be good predictors of future outcomes, and are used as such. The potential for success in a person’s academic, professional and social life, it’s assumed, can often be associated with scores on an IQ test. But new research shows that what these tests measure isn't just intelligence. What's been overlooked is just how much motivation drives performance. Incentives matter.

...concludes that IQ tests are measuring much more than just raw intelligence--they also measure how badly subjects want to succeed both on the test and later in life. Yet Duckworth and her colleagues caution that motivation isn't everything: The lower role for motivation in academic achievement, they write, suggests that "earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation."

The study has important social policy implications, Duckworth says. "I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise," she says, adding that how hard people try "could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself." Duckworth suggests that admissions to programs for "gifted and talented" children should not be based on IQ scores alone, but also on "who wants to do the work."

That makes you think: Putting aside all the rankings hysteria admissions exams are a big part of, do schools place too much importance on students’ standardized test scores?

[Science, via Marginal Revolution]


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