Tag Archives: intelligence

Intelligence just ain’t what it used to be. For much of human history, knowledge signified smarts. Those that remembered facts, recounted history, and memorized big vocabulary words presented as the formidable intellects in their towns, villages, or duchies. Simply knowing things is what made us smart. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century: a mere mastery of facts stopped being sufficient evidence of real intelligence. Knowledge remains necessary, certainly, but far from sufficient. Why isn’t remembering facts enough to be considered very smart? Albert Einstein, that immortal avatar of genius, described the distinction when asked to recall a simple fact, in this case the speed of sound: “[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. …The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.” True…

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All standardized tests tend to be lumped into the same amorphous category, even though different exams obviously, either by design or error, test different attributes and abilities. The SAT and ACT represent the pinnacles of test design, each meticulously crafted over decades to assess much more than the average test taker can imagine. Neither of these exams qualify as IQ tests, but both require the application of various forms of intelligence. Psychologist Raymond Cattell classified two different types of intelligence: crystallized and fluid. Crystallized intelligence represents the ability to access and use learned knowledge, skills, and experience. On the SAT & ACT, crystallized intelligence represents, among other things, knowledge of grammar rules, math formulas, and vocabulary. Fluid intelligence represents the ability to solve think logically, solve problems, identify patterns, and handle novel scenarios. This category also encompasses mental traits like executive function, working memory, and processing speed. On the SAT…

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