Performance in Mathematics: correct indicator of IQ or not?


Since time immemorial, good mathematical skills and high IQ have been synonymous. A student securing sky-touching marks in maths is considered to be an intelligent species, no matter even if he becomes dumb in front of life’s ‘real challenges’. Mathematics has given nervous breakdown and sleepless nights to majority of the people in their lives. If a student gets 100/100 in maths then within one second he/she is given the tag of ‘extraordinary’ and ‘brilliant’ by our society. This fact underestimates those students who although are highly creative in other fields but lack good calculation and multiplication skills.

The world around us has changed drastically throughout last few decades. Gone are the days when bookish knowledge suffices in it to prove you a real ‘intelligent’. But still when it comes to the world of mathematics, this stereotype refuses to go away completely. It’s not like that practical knowledge in maths is not valued but theoretical people are still getting edge over the others in many areas.

The debate often arises that is it really correct to consider performance in maths as an indicator of IQ? Well my dear readers, according to me, it is definitely not so always. Many scholars may agree with this but keeping in mind the true intelligence of non-mathematicians like ‘J.K. Rowling’, ‘Rabindranath Tagore’, ‘Rudyard Kipling’, etc. this fact becomes quite difficult to digest. I agree that it is not wrong that maths is an indicator of a person’s IQ but it is also the fact that maths is not the sole criteria to be judged upon. Factors like verbal intelligence, visual intelligence, spatial reasoning, pattern recognition and logical thinking are also analyzed deeply.

math problem

Non-mathematicians often argue that maths is not that ‘great’ and supports this statement with the fact that there is no Nobel Prize in mathematics although other science fields like Physics, Chemistry and medicine are duly recognized. Actually, the reality is that Alfred Nobel did not create a Nobel Prize in maths simply because he was not personally interested in this subject. But one should not forget that prestigious awards like Abel Prize and Wolf Prize are awarded to great mathematicians to honour their work. No doubt that maths is a complex subject which demands a lot of intelligence but subjects like chemistry, physics, economics, biology, history, commerce, journalism, law etc are also not cakewalk either.

It requires high presence of mind to write something like a crime fiction novel or to win a JAM session or Extempore. Those people who debate 24×7 on Loksabha TV and various other channels though might not be educated enough but are definitely intelligent because a dumb person can’t go on defending himself and accusing others without valid points, facts and ‘presence of mind’.

Whenever I look at people around me, often I have failed in drawing a link between high math scorers and ‘true intelligence’. Hence, according to my point of view, problem solving ability in daily life should be the prior criterion in judging the IQ of an person because that proves that that person is of actually a sound mind and possess high visual intelligence , logical skills and good reasoning ability. Guys don’t you feel that that student is more intelligent who always find the most creative and innovative shortcut as compared to the hard-working rules-follower lad? Even companies today are in no mood to hire people who can’t apply their intelligence in their real lives. Have you ever wondered why questions involving some situation are often asked in interviews to check a person’s sharpness? Why don’t they simply throw away some higher level algebraic equations? General awareness is given a lot more importance than number skills, because the former prove that your mind is in a state to know and grasp what all is happening around you and thus it reflects your intelligence in some way or the other.

maths equation

You all must have thought of participating in ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ at least once in your life. Mind you, you can win that huge prize money in crores without knowing any higher level mathematics. Now I wonder, if maths happen to be the real criterion for analyzing IQ then are those people mad that they are ready to give it without asking anything about maths? Maths was never and can never ever be the ‘only factor’ for deciding your IQ.

Those lawyers who argue in courts, police who crack cases, biologists who discover something new, artists who produce eye-catching work  and even people who lie flawlessly( this one is not appreciated though!) all have good IQ, no matter if they had ever studied mathematics after 10 standard or not.  I remember a crime patrol episode that I had watched long ago, in that episode 3 engineering students executed an almost perfect bank robbery. Only because it is the law of nature that no crime can be 100% perfect that they got caught, otherwise their intelligence was par excellence. And that’s why, I believe that IQ means a lot more than just proving theorems and solving equations on paper.

So guys, if you and maths never get along well, then don’t   worry because it doesn’t mean that you are a non-intelligent species. If you are smart enough to make believable excuses in front of teachers and if you can plan a good prank for your friends, then trust me, your IQ is worth appreciating!


About Author

Sagarika Taneja is a Chemistry honours student at University of Delhi. She is passionate about science and writing. A true nature lover by heart, she loves to write on environmental topics and health related stuff the most.

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