What Is An I.Q.?

I.Q. is an acronym for an Intelligence Quota which is a stand-in number which one can use to assess where they land on the I.Q. scale (a generally accepted measurement to assess an individual’s intelligence based upon the population average). A typical I.Q. scale reads from 55, at the lower end of the scale, and 145, at the higher end. There are outliers on either side of the scale for extraordinary, or unextraordinary, intelligence.

In this blog, I will be distinguishing between the similarities and differences of the SAT and I.Q. tests. I will offer that they are separate entities, but that they may be used as a prediction of outcomes on one or the other, e.g., if I scored far above average on the SAT I may predict that I will score high on the I.Q. test.

SAT Vs I.Q. At A Glance

What Does The SAT Really Measure?

The SAT is a specific test which distinguishes itself from the I.Q. test in a variety of ways. I will begin with the purpose of the SAT.

The SAT test is a comprehensive test. This test measures a particular age group who have reached a particular point in their academic careers and are expected to know and apply their knowledge to show that they are ready for higher education. That being said, the SAT measures that level of competency to suggest to the admissions board of a university (or like institute) that this individual is ready to begin the next series of academics. 

Now, it may be the case that an individual with a high I.Q. does better on the SAT, and perhaps this is where confusion arises in conflating the two. If the individual with the high I.Q. does better, it is only a testament to their ability to cognize, grasp, and apply materials learned. A high I.Q., however, does not guarantee a high SAT score as there are other factors to consider.

What Does I.Q. Really Measure?

An I.Q test provides a ball-park estimate of an individual’s intelligence. I say ‘ball-park’ while keeping two considerations in mind:

  1. It may be the case that if an I.Q test is taken very young and they scored highly, say a 133, this may just be an estimate to the general area their I.Q will fall. If they were to retest at an older age, after they had harnessed their capacity for reasoning to a heightened degree, we may see, then, a number which is more accurate while still existing in that predictive range they scored in their childhood. 
  2. This test will illustrate a predicted level of intelligence that may or may not be harnessed. By this I mean, if someone scores very highly, but neglects their intellect in some variety of ways, it may be the case that some person who previously scored lower comparatively, but who trained and developed his intellect, may possess greater intelligence than the former.

Is The SAT An I.Q. Test?

No. The SAT is not an I.Q. test properly speaking. As I mentioned previously, it may be the case that a high score (or low score) on either test may indicate a higher or lower level of intelligence in the individual, however there are so many exterior factors which exist between the two tests which render this prediction merely hypothetical. 

Some factors which help us to separate the SAT test from the I.Q test are:

  1. If I scored highly on the SAT, and low on my I.Q. test we may sit and scratch our heads if we believed the two to be the same. How would something like that be possible? First, I could have gotten lucky. I could have guessed the questions in the right pattern and scored highly on the SAT as a result. Second, I could have prepared to the highest degree possible (which we here at SoFlo can help you do). Adequate preparation for the material would have prepared me for the particular questions which arise on the SAT test–as it is no mystery what is asked.
  2. The content is very different, as the SAT measures for comprehension of particular topics and the I.Q. measures for your foundational level of intelligence–how you are able to engage with problem-solving tasks, shapes, and so forth.

But this brings us to our next section, what do the SAT and I.Q. tests have in common?

What Do The SAT and I.Q. Tests Have In Common?

Though they are not interchangeable in their nature (the SAT test and the I.Q. test are not the same), these tests do share some similarities that I will now go over:

  1. They Both Measure Cognitive Abilities: It’s true! Both the SAT and I.Q. tests measure an individual’s capacity for reasoning. The SAT measures an individual’s cognitive capacity for applying what they had learned in high school (or an equivalent education). The I.Q. test measures an individual’s  capacity for reasoning and problem solving capabilities on a more general spectrum.
  2. They Both Focus On Test Reasoning Skills: Both the SAT and the I.Q. tests focus on an individual’s ability to reason with problems presented. 
  3. They Both Measure Problem-Solving Skills: The SAT challenges the individual taking the test to problem solve on a specific genre of material, whereas the I.Q. test is more general problem solving. 
  4. Both Are Based On Normative Samples: A normative sample is the sample used as reference for the rest of the population of that thing. For the SAT and I.Q. tests respectively, there is a normative sample which all tests (like what you and I would take) are derived from. This helps to ensure the fidelity of the test taken.

Does The SAT Correlate With I.Q.?

The short answer is no. Articles and sources that propose a definitive SAT to I.Q. conversion are definitely not backing up their research with proven scientific evidence or are influenced by many confounding variables. Here are some prima facie reasons to believe that the SAT and the I.Q. tests do not correlate directly with one another, and should, thus, be viewed as separate entities.

  1. Luck, Sleepiness, And Other Uncontrollable Variables While Taking The SAT: It is certainly true that sometimes the pattern one selects when Christmas-treeing really does work out for them. So much so that they may get a far better SAT score than what their I.Q. would typically bring about. In a separate case, if someone with a high I.Q. was having a rough go of things for they hadn’t a good night’s sleep the night prior (or something) and they scored poorly, then it seems like that score would, too, be unreflective of their actual I.Q.
  2. Different Scores, Different Times And The Steadfast Nature Of An I.Q: How incredible would it be if at one go at the SAT you had scored a 1490 and determined your I.Q., then, to be in the 99th percentile, but you weren’t yet satisfied as it wasn’t that 1600 you were hoping for. So you take the SAT again and, uh-oh, you now have a 1010 (this wouldn’t happen if you had a SoFLo tutor by the way) and magically your I.Q. would be in the 73rd percentile. It would seem as though an I.Q., something which measures a concrete level of intelligence in you, would not change so drastically in such a short time. Do you get the point?
  3. SAT Measures Specific Skills: As we have discussed previously in this blog, the SAT is used to measure an individual’s competency of a specific sort of information, namely that of the information they have received throughout a highschool (or comparable) education. The students taking the SAT should be able to apply what they have learned to score highly on the test. 
  4. The SAT And The I.Q. Tests Measure Different Types Of Intelligence: The SAT is not an intelligence test as much as it is a competency test for reading, grammar, and math. The I.Q., test is a test to determine the ball-park average of some particular individual’s capacity for intellectual reasoning. 
  5. The SAT And The I.Q. Tests Have Different Purposes: The scores from an SAT are primarily used in an attempt to further ones academic career and pursue higher education. The scores from the I.Q. test may be used for particular programs as a child (the gifted program, etc.) and as an adult, but function primarily for one’s own knowledge of what they scored.
  6. The SAT And I.Q. Tests Have Different Formats: The SAT test is a proctored exam given to students at an approved testing institution whereas the I.Q., test is usually conducted by a licensed psychologist in an office setting.

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About The Author

Dahlia received her B.S. in psychology and philosophy at Florida State University. In her free time she enjoys filmmaking and photography, backpacking, and cycling.

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