Test For Genius

© July 1995 Paul Cooijmans

Don't laugh: I have designed a test for genius and am now trying to norm it. Through Mensa and ads in Netherlandic newspapers 106 volunteers have been recruited so far, which is not enough. Might any of you be interested in doing my test? It can be obtained at [my then address]. When you submit answers, I will let you know your score as soon as I consider the test normed properly. Might I not succeed in standardizing it, I'll simply report your scores in relation to the group of volunteers.

The Test For Genius not only gives a total score, but also a profile in several aspects of genius, as I see them: pattern recognition,reasoning ability, numerical insight, spatial insight and knowledge gathering. The test is quite similar to a difficult I.Q. test, but some items require skills that (in my view) are typical for geniuses. Unfortunately, mentioning those skills here would help you to solve the problems, so I can't do that…

Being a new member, here is a brief introduction: age: 30. Vocations: composer, writer, guitarist and guitar teacher.

I think societies that enable highly intelligent people to communicate with each other are of great importance. I would like to stress that in my country it is very difficult to qualify for such societies, since there are no tests available here that gives scores up to the 99.9 level. Mensa here doesn't give scores above "percentile 99", and the tests you can do at test institutes here don't go much higher either. Even the Netherlandic WAIS has only a verbal ceiling of I.Q. 144. So "home tests" like Mega and Titan are the only way to reach very high scores, and unfortunately they have the disadvantage of being in the wrong language for many of us.

This, and my interest in genius, inspired me to design my test, that exists in both Netherlandic and English.

The main problem I encounter is that many volunteers obviously put too little time and effort into it to reach their true level. Such scores have no meaning and can not be used to norm the test. Someone who does his best and has 1 right is of greater help than someone who only gives it a quick glance and has 20 right. So? Anyone?

Comment of 2006

It is needed to clarify several points in hindsight: this article concerns what would later be called the Short T.F.G., and its current version is found at this web page. I did norm the test, but nowadays report scores in relation to the group of candidates as well.

The profile has largely been dropped because it turned out to be not reliable enough. Only verbal and spatial section scores are still reported.

The items I thought would require skills typical for genius turned out to simply be very difficult intelligence-requiring items of sublime quality. I have learnt that test items can never measure genius or creativity, but only intelligence. To detect, measure, require, genius/creativity you need to take personality aspects other than intelligence into account, as I now know. I mention this with emphasis as I see others making the same mistake in creating what they think are "creative puzzles" or whatever they call it. But the only creativity goes into designing those problems; to solve them requires mere intelligence. It takes years of study and hundreds of test submissions and statistical analysis thereof to learn that.

Further I am pleased to say it has now become very much easier to find high-range tests in The Netherlands, some even in Netherlandic. The Test For Genius though remains only in English.

Early advertisment for the Test For Genius
Early advertisment for the Test For Genius

Regarding people not doing their best and not reaching their true level, I later realized I was wrong in believing that. Those people did do their best from the start on, but the test was much harder than I had expected, so that most of the scores were at or just above zero. This too is a mistake that beginning test designers naturally make; you underestimate the hardness of your test. But a test is always very much harder for who takes it than for who creates it. Initially you can't believe that such low raw scores correspond to such high I.Q.'s. Again, several years of studying incoming data are needed to make you realize your intuitive notion of test difficulty is dozens of I.Q. points off.