Test Scores Don’t Determine Ability to Get By in Life

On a Dutch blog by the mother of a child with autism, I read about the impact of IQ on school choice. The child in question is intellectually disabled. I am not. However, I can totally relate to measured IQ impacting the choices made for me regarding my education.

I have a verbal IQ that was at one point measured at 154. I have had many IQ tests other than this one. I didn’t score as high on all. On one, I didn’t even score within the gifted range. Nonetheless, my IQ score of 154 is mentioned in every diagnostic report about me.

This is a verbal IQ. IQ is composed of two components: verbal and performance. My perfomrmance, or non-verbal IQ cannot be measured because I’m blind. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact me. Professionals involved with autism have consistently suspected that my performance IQ is significantly lower than my verbal IQ and this could be one reason my abilities are constantly overestimated. It cannot be measured, however, so let’s just continue expecting excellent, or at least good performance out of me. Or not.

The mother writing the blog I mentioned above desperately wanted her child to have an IQ above 70 so that he could go to a school for children with behavioral disturbance rather than a school for children with an intellectual disability. In my own case, my parents desperately wanted me to score high so that they could convince the special school for the blind to recommend me to regular education. Finally, they needed not just to prove that I am intellectually capable, but that I excel academically, because they had decided I should go to grammar school. I had to have a standardized test score above a certain number and thankfully I scored within the expected range. The special school principal called my parents in total shock, because she didn’t have a clue that I was this capable.

In real life, unfortunately, it takes more than academic excellence to excel, or even to get by. It takes more even than a high verbal IQ. More than a high IQ in general, in fact.

Why do people rely so heavily on test scores to determine what they can expect out of someone? Because my abilities are consistently overesitmated, the autism consultant recommended further testing to determine why I function at a much lower level than my (verbal) IQ would suggest. My psychologist dismissed this idea. I understand, because it takes a lot to be able to assess someone who is blind. Besides, I’m not so sure I’d be able to take yet another exam, as that’s what it feels like.

Why don’t we just understand that people are different? People have different abilities and difficulties and they shouldn’t all have to be Einsteins or prove why they’re not. Yes, I know Einstein is sometimes suspcted of having had practically every neurodiverse codnition under the sun. I don’t care. My point is that, if someone doesn’t get by, they need help and it doesn’t matter whether a test score says they should be able to get by.


4 thoughts on “Test Scores Don’t Determine Ability to Get By in Life

  1. I’m actually against IQ tests. I don’t do them, because I think they’re unreliable and people shouldn’t depend so much on them. When you’re tired, or haven’t taught how to calculate certain things, you’ll score low. We shouldn’t label everyone by their IQ, but see how they function ‘in real life’ and see what they say for themselves if they encounter problems (and what others see as well, although in my case people also always overestimate me and don’t give me certain help or explanations in class even though I need it). So I totally agree with you.


  2. Tests are not great measures of a person’s intelligence nor a great predictor on how well a person does in life. I think it’s a measurement of how well you remember/regurgitate information, how well you do on the tests
    under time constraints.

    I do agree about how people have different abilities and difficulties. I would like to add that “smart” comes in different forms. What is considered “smart”? Understanding complex information, good decision making, “street smarts”?

    What do we teach if a lots of scores, marks and results are from mostly test scores? Should we learn material or learn how to do well on tests?


  3. There’s pro’s and con’s to IQ tests/adaptive function tests. The psychologist refused to put on an IQ score on the eldest’s at Gr 8 b/c his social communication was so poor, yet the rest was fine. Her comment “there’s the autism”. It was done initially at Gr 4 and mild ID, so they redid it at Gr 8. He’s in the Univ stream in highschool.

    My youngest, we had a non-verbal test done at Gr 6. The goal to prove he was much smarter than the severe ASD showed. It nearly backfired on us b/c it showed he was borderline, maybe ID, but I’m one of “those” Mom’s and he remained in self-contained. They wanted to put him in a reg class again. They didn’t go and see him, they just thought “asperger’s”… but then too the Psychologist wrote it up properly and he stayed where he was in next school (moved to Jr High). I also forced them to put him in the HFA/ID class in highschool. To them he’s “severe” so he should be in the LFA/ID class. Yes, he needs more adaptive functioning supports but academically he’s ahead of his class. He’s also thriving and proving them wrong once more.

    Used properly, written up properly, they can be used as a tool to get services as well.


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