Commenter “Callitwhatyoulike” wrote:

The primary problem with using SAT as an estimator of IQ is that there are a multitude of reasons why someone may have scored poorly on SAT, yet have an outlying IQ. SAT (arguably) requires years of *learning* (knowledge), *in conjunction* with outlying intelligence, to score highly on. Obviously, the advantage of IQ testing is that knowledge (minus basic literacy) isn’t a factor. I scored under 1200 on SAT (post-’95), yet my IQ is well above the 99th percentile (indicative of a “should have been” SAT score of at least 1400). Why is this a problem? Employers, apparently attempting to substitute banned IQ testing with an “equal” measure of capability, frequently ask for SAT scores. Without giving them my life story, I can’t very well detail why my SAT score was at least 200 points beneath “should have been,” per historical SAT/IQ correlation. My SAT score implies that I’m barely above average, though the IQ scores I provide them with (very specifically) go entirely ignored (or worse, generally speaking, are seen as simple “boasting,” etc., and are used against me).
(If employers knew how to hire people [rest assured that they do not], they’d find ways to determine candidates’ IQs, immediately cease “interviewing” people [rolling eyes], immediately cease looking at photographs of people [rolling eyes], and recognize that, as was proven long ago, virtually nothing but raw intelligence [IQ] is valid as a predictor of potential job performance.)

An important point to remember is that both SAT scores and official IQ scores are approximations for a mysterious trait called “general intelligence” (g), or if you do’t believe in g, “overall intelligence”

The correlation between the SAT and g is about 0.8, which is extremely high considering it’s not marketed as an IQ test, but it’s not as high as the very best official IQ tests (the Wechsler intelligence scales) which have a g loading of about 0.9.

Neither of these tests measures g directly the way a tape measure measures height. Rather, ranking everyone’s g with their score on the Wechsler is like ranking everyone’s height by their shoe size. The correlation between height and shoe size is about 0.9, much like the correlation between g and Wechsler IQ is about 0.9.

Meanwhile ranking everyone’s g by ranking their SAT scores is like ranking everyone’s height by ranking their basketball performance. The correlation between height and basketball performance among young American men is about 0.8, just like the correlation between g and SAT scores among young adults is about 0.8. If you attended a high school where basketball was really important or if you practiced basketball a lot in your free time, basketball performance might overestimate your height. Conversely, if you attended a school that had no basketball team, basketball performance might underestimate your height.

Analogously, if you attended a school where doing well on the SATs was really important, or if you spent much of your free time practicing math problems and memorizing vocabulary lists, the SAT might overestimate your g. Conversely, if you attended a school where no one was expected to go to college, the SAT might underestimate your g.

So the SAT is somewhat less accurate at measuring g than the very best official IQ tests, but it’s still as good, if not better, than most official IQ tests. But even the very best official IQ tests are indirect measures of g, in the sense that they don’t directly measure the biological properties of the brain that collectively cause people to differ on mental tests (assuming you believe that).

If I knew someone had a large gap between their SAT scores and their Wechsler IQ scores, I would give more weight to their Wechsler scores, but I would not automatically assume their SAT scores were completely wrong.

For example if I knew someone sucked at basketball despite having a huge shoe size, my guess would be that they were tall, but lacked skill (analogous to the high official IQ person who flunks the SAT).

If I knew someone had a tiny shoe size but was on the NBA (analogous to someone with a low official IQ score who aced the SAT), I would not however just assume they were a short person with incredible skill. I might instead assume shoe size underestimated their height for whatever reason (analogous to an official IQ test being wrong)

As for employers asking about SAT scores, I’ve said before that it would be interesting to a do a study correlating intelligence (as measured by both the SAT and official IQ tests) and success (as measured by both income and status). If what you’re saying is a major issue for many people, the correlation between intelligence and success should be higher when intelligence is measured by the SAT than by official IQ tests, since the former are known by gate keeping colleges and some employers. However, if the correlation between intelligence and success was as high when intelligence was measured by official IQ tests, it would be strong evidence that smart people tend to get to the top naturally, and not as a self-fulfilling prophecy of high SAT scores.

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