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Beyond Classic IQ Tests: Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Test

By Lyndsay Swinton

Want to reach your potential? Then ditch the stifling notion of the classic IQ test and embrace Howard Gardner's multiple intelligence test.

"We damage so many kids and so many lives by saying "you're thick."" Tony Buzan, British psychologist and originator of "mind-mapping"

Classic IQ tests involve a range of abstract questions designed to show your language, spatial awareness and numerical ability. But to consider your "intelligence" based on an IQ test alone is to ignore a host of other mental abilities.

A low score on a classic IQ test result simply means you're less skilled at the type of intelligence that particular test measures - whereas you may score off the scale if other intelligences were being measured. So, low IQ does not mean low intelligence, just a different intelligence.

Bring on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence tests.

Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence theory defines 7 main intelligence types;

  • Linguistic - words and language
  • Logical-Mathematical - logic and numbers
  • Musical - music, rhythm and sound
  • Bodily-Kinaesthetic - body movement and control
  • Spatial-Visual - images and space
  • Interpersonal - other people's feelings
  • Intrapersonal - self awareness
Gardner recognises other intelligence types such as Moral or Naturalist, however sticks to the main 7 as they are the easiest to define and measure.

Genius Sports Stars

Many think sports stars are less intelligent. Not so, if you are using Howard Gardner's multiple intelligence theory. English footballer David Beckham is a genius, due his exceptional ability to compute and execute the exact angles and forces required to score a goal from a free-kick. Mere mortals cannot do this.

Why is this useful? Knowing your 3 main intelligence strengths can guide you to the most appropriate job type and learning activities that will help you achieve your potential.

Achieving Your Potential Using Your Multiple Intelligence Strengths

Step 1 - take a multiple intelligence test to uncover your 3 main intelligence strengths. Just do a Google search to find a multiple intelligence test that suits.

Step 2 - review your current or aspirational job role against your 3 main intelligence strengths. Typical job roles and intelligence types are shown in the table in the section "Gardner's multiple intelligences - detail" Is there a fit or are you way off track? Now is the time to take steps to align how you spend your working life with your intelligence strengths.

For example, the bored accountant with strong musical, interpersonal and spatial - visual skills could move into the arts and reap the benefit of their hard-earned experience in a field that more closely suits their passions.

Step 3 - using the same table, consider learning activities that utilise your 3 main multiple intelligence types. If you want to build on a weaker intelligence, slot in some activities that will make you work in a different way.

It is possible to learn and develop the same skills in different ways. For example, children learning about Brownian Motion and the random movement of particles could learn the same theory but use very different means. Bodily - kinaesthetic children could physically act out the movement of the particles and bump randomly into each other. Spatial - visual children could create a colourful collage depicting how particles move around. Utilising your preferred learning style makes learning effortless and enjoyable.

Abandoning the notion low IQ equals no hope, opens the door to many exciting possibilities. Embrace Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence test theory and allow yourself to achieve your potential.

By Lyndsay Swinton
Owner, Management for the Rest of Us

multiple intelligence test pdf Download 'Multiple Intelligence Test' in pdf format

Citation Information: Swinton, Lyndsay. " Beyond Classic IQ Tests: Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Test." 26 May 2007. < >.

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