In the beginning of the 20th century, IQ test were nonexistent. But during this time, the French government was trying out a new system of education for children, where kids will be sorted into different classes based on their intellectual capacity.
It was believed that a class of students with similar intelligence levels will be able to progress much more efficiently than one where the intelligence levels are quite diverse. The problem is how to determine the intelligence of each student, and this problem was solved when French psychologist Alfred Binet came up with the very first IQ test.
The objective of this test was not actually to assign a score to a person based on his intelligence. It only meant to pinpoint which students were to be placed in the advanced classes and which ones would need more training and attention. According to Binet, assigning a score based on mental skill would not be beneficial for young children, as a low score might result in loss of self-esteem as well as teasing among peers, while an extremely high score may trigger superiority complex.
So what they did was to just use the Binet Scale, a system for determining a child’s mental capability based on how he had answered the question on the IQ test. It was emphasized, though, that the tests were just for classifying purposes – just because a child’s score was in the lower ranges doesn’t automatically mean that they are stupid.
It didn’t take too long for the United States to discover the first IQ test and soon afterwards, many new versions came out. However, most of these new versions were still based largely on the principles of the original tests when it came to the choice of questions and scoring method.
Over the years, modifications were made to the standard IQ test, making it more comprehensive and turning it into a more useful tool for measuring a person’s intelligence. About ten years after the release of the first IQ test, Lewis Terman of Stanford University published a revised and improved version, which subsequently became known as the Stanford-Binet test.
Although this is actually the test that is considered to be the standard intelligence test to this very day, this version was still quite limited as it only measured the intelligence of children, just like the original test did. The first ever IQ test that was truly meant for adult use was created in 1936 by David Wechsler, and was known as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale or WAIS.
Wechsler’s test was broader in coverage than the first versions of the Stanford-Binet test, which focused mainly on verbal skills. Wechsler’s tests, on the other hand, also measured an individual’s performance in the other aspects of intelligence, like mathematics, linguistics, and visual-spatial skills.
Today, IQ tests are used mostly by companies and schools to screen applicants or to sort them into the appropriate groups. Individuals can also take IQ tests online or through private testing agencies in order to find out how they fare against the rest of the population.
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