My Beautiful Wickedness


The measured intellect
June 22, 2007, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I mentioned in the last post that I took a lot of intelligence tests as a kid. I now realize that this was unusual, but at the time, I thought that everyone went into a slightly darkened office every couple of months, sat down, and answered a couple hours’ worth of questions for a stranger. The first test I can remember was at three. I had been reading well for a year or so and my mom (seeing that I was bored and socially misfitted in the little half-day playschool in the basement of the bank) asked the public school if I could start first grade. No dice. I wasn’t even old enough to be in kindergarten. So, being persistent, she called up the local diocese and told them that I was four (a lie) and very smart and would it be possible for me to test for early admission. So off we went to a Cleveland office building, where I took my first IQ test and a “readiness” test. IQ off the charts, but emotionally and socially not ready…which they said was not unusual, considering that I was “four.” They gave me another IQ test because they assumed the first result was wrong. When mom gave them my correct age, the second result went higher, I guess…I don’t really remember but I think it must have gone up because I remember a lot of guys in skinny ties coming out to look at me while I sat in a long echoing hallway with windows at one end. They suggested, given my high IQ, that she take me to Case Western to be studied by specialists in child development. So I took a bunch more tests there, delightful tests — these were very happy occasions because there was something new to do, a challenge to tackle. Sometimes I got to wear a little headset. Sometimes I was just hitting buttons quickly. Sometimes it was something like the MAT. My vocabulary was getting a lot bigger and so the testing procedures grew more complex. I once met a couple of scientists from NASA (NASA Lewis was in Cleveland) who encouraged me to study hard and come help them in the rocket program. Students observed me (I guess) in a room with one-way mirrors. By the time I actually went to first grade in parochial school (skipping kindergarten because my mom considered it an academic waste of time and the Catholic school was the only joint that would take me really early), I’d probably taken twenty or more standardized tests. I was in nerd heaven.

Then the other tests started kicking in. The public school I eventually went in after I got old enough to go didn’t have a gifted program, but they must have gotten money if they demonstrated that they had smart underserved kids in their population. I took at least one test a year from grades 1-8, just the same old IQ test. There was the several-year study to see if kids in our town had been affected by the release of toxic chemicals from a local plant (no, we were all just as smart, but we are more prone to cancer and we glow slightly when the lights are low). There was the “can we get this girl a scholarship to the local private school” test. There was the “why is this kid losing all interest in school” test in 4th grade (because it’s boring and my parents are going through a terrible time in their marriage? They could have asked me…). There was all the usual national standardized tests in the 3d, 8th, 10, and 11th grade. And there was all the scholarship exams (including a memorable one from the University of Dallas that I took just because I could get out of class for a couple hours and do something different).

It’s really no wonder that by the time I hit my GREs, I just blew a hole in them. I’d had a lot of experience.

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5 Comments so far
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because it’s boring and my parents are going through a terrible time in their marriage… heh. sounds just like my childhood!

I scored “no ceiling” on the Stanford-Binet test.

Comment by Nick Dupree

S-B’s a favorite of mine…I liked that it realized its limitation in measuring the outer reach of intellectual possibility, although I don’t think the S-B median point is all that accurate. Eh, they are all just shooting marbles into the black box.

Comment by bridgett

S-B must have been after my time, because I don’t recall it…

As a rehearsal for my disastrous foray into law school in 1996 LSAT was the last one I took, and it showed that one could get great scores on the LSAT and still be mind blowingly stupid. I wrote the answers in the blue book instead of penciling in the circles the first time, so no answers on the form, no pass test… (absolutely true)

The second time I got high scores on all the parts…

Comment by imfunny2

The S-B is one of the granddaddys of them all and was hugely popular in the 1960s and 1970s, but for young kids, the test includes the use of manipulables. I recall your fine motor wasn’t so good when you were a tadpole, so I suspect that testers feared that they wouldn’t get a true reading.

When I was taking the GREs, the proctor told us all to turn around and greet the person behind us. To a person, the whole room pivoted to be faced with the back of the person behind us…duhhhhhhhh….

Comment by bridgett

My Catholic school was actually going to go through with skipping me from K to 3rd. the experiment lasted until I pissed my pants. Not like I was having latent toilet training issues, it was just that the 3rd grade teacher was intent on kicking me out Lou Gossett JR style (“I want your DOR!”). Since I’m not Richard Gere, it worked.

Comment by Mark




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