The Real Way to Figure Out How Smart Someone Is

It works every time.

Jessica Wildfire


IQ tests are torture. I took my first one at the age of five. I remember one question that drove me to tears:

“Circle the picture that looks the most like a lamp.”

There were four pictures. A desk. A bed. A couch. And last but not least, a lamp. The question didn’t make any sense. One of the pictures didn’t just look like a lamp. It was a lamp. In my mind, there should’ve been a picture of something that only resembled a lamp.

Every question posed the same kind problem. It was open to ten interpretations, at least for me. In the end, I didn’t finish the test. The school tried to place me in special education courses, but my parents objected — mainly out of shame and embarrassment.

For about ten years, they treated me like a total idiot. They yelled at me for making simple mistakes. My dad called me stupid under his breath. It was around that time they started planning to have another kid. That turned out to be my brother, who they considered bright.

Everything changed when I turned 14.

My school gave everyone another one of those IQ tests. This time, I didn’t waste a lot of brain power on it.

I just answered the questions.

A few weeks later, the gifted program came for me. They changed my classes. Kids who ignored me suddenly wanted to be my friends. Teachers looked at me differently. They took the time to learn my name. The rules seemed to relax. The courses got more interesting.

There were fewer worksheets. There was less homework. A lot less. Everything was a project. We were told to be creative.

We were encouraged to have fun.

We were told we were smart.

It worked.

We’re obsessed with intelligence.

Everyone needs to feel like a genius these days, at least over here in America. They have to be the smartest person in the room.

Have you noticed?

It’s gotten especially bad lately. We’ve got half the country thinking they’re smarter than doctors. Politicians post bullshit memes about…