Posted in Inspiration, Tips for Students

I.Q. Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Some kids give up on trying to learn math because they think they’re not smart enough.  Others are afraid of asking for help because they don’t want to appear dumb.  Both cases result from the mistaken emphasis placed on IQ.

If I.Q. is a thing that we can even measure, then it is a measure of how well a person can solve the types of problems that appear on I.Q. tests.  This really doesn’t tell us much about a person or their potential for achievement, any more than any other narrow metric would, such as how much weight you can lift, or how well you can draw.

Above-average intelligence is a gift to be sure, but everyone is gifted in different ways.  If you are wishing to have someone else’s gifts, it is because you aren’t fully appreciating your own.  Someone who has a high I.Q. might wish to be gifted with more physical beauty, someone who is physically beautiful might wish to be gifted with more athleticism, someone who is gifted with athleticism might wish to be gifted with a better sense of humor.  All such wishing is pointless, because it prevents us from appreciating, enjoying, and sharing the gifts we have.  It is also misguided, because when we are doing it we aren’t realizing that people who have those gifts we are wishing for aren’t necessarily having a better experience of life than we are.  Someone who is naturally athletic, beautiful, intelligent, or is born with tons of money in all probability lives with their own set of regrets and limitations that you would be glad not to have.

Intelligence is certainly not the determining factor in how well you do in school.  As one recent article states,

“A highly intelligent person might solve their homework in half an hour. An actively intelligent person starts their homework early, takes longer, but gets it done in a weekend. Both students pass.

The luckier person might seem the more intelligent one, but there are dangers to coasting through most of your life. The actively intelligent person is developing a more valuable skill: how to recognise and consistently do the smart things, even when they might not want to.”

Also, if you read the answers to the question “What is it like to have an extremely high I.Q.?” on Quora, you will see a common theme emerge: many people who answer say that school was very easy for them, but they hated it, and that it took them much longer than other people to learn many valuable life lessons.

Also, being praised for being smart has plenty of drawbacks, as my own experience has attested; it actually lowered my self esteem and my drive to achieve.  Being thought of as dedicated, kind, honest, and fair will get you much farther than being thought of as smart will.

Overall, giving any thought to your I.Q. is pointless.  Whatever your score on an I.Q. test would be, there is nothing that you could do with it, and nothing that it would allow you to do (or prevent you from doing).  You will be much better off focusing on discovering what you are passionate about and pursuing those interests, whatever they may be.


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and academic coach who specializes in helping all types of students achieve life and academic success, especially homeschooled students and those preparing for STEM careers. More information and resources can be found on his website at

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