#93 Take an IQ Test

This bucket list item was completed on 6th August 2014 in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

I think we have all taken those online IQ test where you answer a few multiple-choice questions and then it spits out a result.

“Congratulations! Your IQ is ‘blah blah blah’! You are in the top ‘blah blah blah’ percent of the world!”

This wasn’t for me… I was always curious about my IQ, but if I was going to do a test, I wanted it to be a legitimate one. I started Googling to see what was available in New Plymouth and it turned out there were a few psychology practices that administered IQ tests. I called around and got a few prices before landing on one. I was pretty broke at the time, after travelling NZ for 3 months, so I went with the cheapest one.

When I showed up to the appointment, I was pleasantly surprised when I met the psychologist. He was an American guy that I had actually met at the end of 2013 on a spearfishing course. We remembered each other and had a quick chat, which eased my nervousness. Perhaps it was a bit of luck, mixed in with my thriftiness, that made me pick his practice.

I felt even luckier when he told me that the IQ test that he had was written for a North American population. At least I knew there wouldn’t be any questions about rugby or cricket.

I was there on my lunch break, so we jumped right into it. There were four categories that were covered in the test: verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.

There were a few tests for each category, and I excelled at some, but struggled with others. For perceptual reasoning, he gave me a set of blocks, and then showed me pictures that could be made from these blocks. The test was to see how quickly I could replicate the photo he showed me. I have always loved puzzles, so I knocked this one out of the park.

My redacted results

Working memory was the most challenging category, but also the most fun. One test involved him saying a string of numbers – 1, 6, 5, 9 – and then I would repeat it back to him. Each time I successfully responded; he made the string longer by one number, but changed all the numbers – now 7, 5, 8, 4, 3 – and so on. I managed to get up to 9 numbers before I failed.

Another test involved the same principle, but I had to read the numbers back to him in reverse order. This was magnitudes harder and I only made it to 7 numbers before I failed.

Processing speed was tested by him giving me a sheet of symbols and corresponding numbers to study. For example, carrot = 1, circle = 2, umbrella = 3. After I had studied these, he gave me another sheet that was all symbols and then started a timer. My goal was to write down as many of the numbers, which corresponded to the symbols, before the time ran out. This was quite tough, and I did not do as well as I had expected.

The word processing test involved him saying a word to me and then I had to give him the meaning of the word. This may sound easy but some of the words were quite obscure and not ones I would use in everyday life. I did my best, but it was obvious that this was my worse category.

After we finished the testing for this category, he said to me, “You don’t read much, do you?” I wasn’t offended, I simply said, “I’m an engineer, I do numbers”.

Realising that words were my weakness was quite humbling. I considered myself to be good with words (for an engineer), but the IQ test showed me that it was an area for improvement. I have worked on this ever since and now constantly look up new words when I come across them in books. Oh yeah, and I read more now…

Have you taken an IQ test? What did it tell you about yourself? Let me know in the comments below.

Make sure to read my next post, [#93 Lesson] Room For Improvement, which discusses the lesson learned by completing this item. Want to be notified when new blog posts are uploaded? Subscribe below.

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