IQ and SAT Scores as a Solution to the Student Loan Crisis

From the WSJ: Job Hunting? Dig Up Those Old SAT Scores

In the smartist era -an era of perpetually rising stocks, of a hyper-meritocracy, of hyper-globalization, of hyper-capitalism, of super-productivity and super-efficiency- never before have the economic premiums of being smart been so great, or the disadvantages of being average been so grave and intractable. This is a sensitive issue because intelligence has become inextricably linked to socioeconomic outcomes. Look around you. The folks you read about on the blogs making millions and billions are, with few exceptions like athletes and entertainers, of above average intelligence. The smarties are running victory laps around everyone else. A revenge of the nerds in overdrive.

Here’s the harsh reality: Grades are worthless. GPAs are worthless. The military knows this and that’s why for years they have been using IQ tests to screen enlistees and assign positions. About 30-40% fail to achieve the cutoff score, despite otherwise satisfactory academic performance. Why? Because GPAs and grades are inflated and don’t give a useful, objective measure of how prospects acquire skills and synthesize information in a time-sensitive environment. Grade inflation has gotten worse as shown below:

A low score doesn’t necessarily kill a person’s chances, hiring managers say; instead, they say they believe SATs and other college entrance exams like the ACT help when comparing candidates with differing backgrounds or figuring out whether someone has the raw brainpower required for the job.

Exactly. Dull people don’t get high scores on these aptitude tests. In an economic environment heavily tilted in favor of employer over the employee, where efficiency and productivity is paramount, employers will be very choosy with a preference towards the best and brightest. Countless psychological studies support the link between a high IQ score and performance at work.

More evidence of grade inflation from prof. Mark Perry:

For more than 40 years, grades have risen across universities nationwide. The Raleigh News and Observer reported Jan. 25 that 82% of all grades given to undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were As and Bs in Fall 2007, and that the average GPA was 3.2. In 1967, the average GPA at UNC was 2.49

But what about grade inflation at Harvard? But getting into Harvard is the challenge. Upon doing so, you’ve already established your intellectual worthiness, but this further lends support to GPAs being worthless.

“It is a little confounding how a test somebody took when they were 17 predicts success in a competitive workplace when they’re 22,” said Kevin Monahan, a career-services dean at Carnegie Mellon University.

It’s not confounding if you study the literature. Studies have shown IQ scores tend to be stable throughout life and IQ scores are positively correlated with work performance and SAT scores.

But what about Google?

Internal studies found “very little correlation between SAT scores and job performance,” said Kyle Ewing, head of global staffing programs at Google. The company now relies on interview questions that probe how a potential hire has solved complex problems in the past.

Major selection bias going on here. Applicants for intellectually demanding positions like coding will naturally have very high scores. All else being equal, a major difference in performance is not expected when selecting from a pool of 95-99.9 percentile scorers.

The next step beyond credential-ism is smartism or IQ-ism. Instead of being hired based on a college degree, you’ll be asked to provide an IQ or an SAT score. The wonderlick test is already widely used for this purpose. Or possibly an admittance letter from a prestigious university like an IVY League school would suffice. With few exceptions, admittance into schools like MIT or Caltech is tantamount to a superior IQ score. This could be a solution to the student loan debt problem by substituting a diploma with an IQ or equivalent test score.

Of course, push-back is expected. The left has a love-hate relationship with standardized testing. They support it to increase funding for troubled schools, but oppose it if the results are in any way connected to the underlying intelligence of the test taker. Or if the results are used in the hiring or admittance process.