Next Article in Journal / Special Issue
Multiple Intelligences in Teaching and Education: Lessons Learned from Neuroscience
Previous Article in Journal / Special Issue
A Misuse of IQ Scores: Using the Dual Discrepancy/Consistency Model for Identifying Specific Learning Disabilities
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Using Standardized Test Scores to Include General Cognitive Ability in Education Research and Policy

Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, Geisinger Health System, Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA
Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, 31015 Toulouse, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 May 2018 / Revised: 16 July 2018 / Accepted: 27 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligence in Education)
Full-Text   |   PDF [694 KB, uploaded 2 August 2018]   |  


In education research and education policy, much attention is paid to schools, curricula, and teachers, but little attention is paid to the characteristics of students. Differences in general cognitive ability (g) are often overlooked as a source of important variance among schools and in outcomes among students within schools. Standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT are reasonably good proxies for g and are available for most incoming college students. Though the idea of g being important in education is quite old, we present contemporary evidence that colleges and universities in the United States vary considerably in the average cognitive ability of their students, which correlates strongly with other methods (including international methods) of ranking colleges. We also show that these g differences are reflected in the extent to which graduates of colleges are represented in various high-status and high-income occupations. Finally, we show how including individual-level measures of cognitive ability can substantially increase the statistical power of experiments designed to measure educational treatment effects. We conclude that education policy researchers should give more consideration to the concept of individual differences in cognitive ability as well as other factors. View Full-Text
Keywords: education policy; general intelligence; SAT; college rankings; elite schools education policy; general intelligence; SAT; college rankings; elite schools

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material


Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Wai, J.; Brown, M.I.; Chabris, C.F. Using Standardized Test Scores to Include General Cognitive Ability in Education Research and Policy. J. Intell. 2018, 6, 37.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
J. Intell. EISSN 2079-3200 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top