(1) Do you think you are smarter than your parents and grandparents? According to James Flynn, a professor at a New Zealand university, you are! Over the course of the last century, people who have taken IQ tests have gotten increasingly better scores – on average, three points better for every decade that has passed. This improvement is known as ‘the Flynn effect,’ and scientists want to know what is behind it.
(2) IQ tests and other similar tests are designed to measure general intelligence rather than knowledge. Flynn knew that intelligence is partly inherited from our parents and partly the result of our environment and experiences, but improvement in test scores was happening too quickly to be explained by heredity. So what was happening in the 20th century that was helping people achieve higher scores on intelligence tests?
(3) Scientists have proposed several explanations for the Flynn effect. Some suggest that the improved test scores simply reflect an increased exposure to tests in general. Because we take so many tests, we learn test-taking techniques that help us perform better on any test. Others have pointed to better nutrition since it results in babies being born larger, healthier, and with more brain development than in the past. Another possible explanation is a change in educational styles, with teachers encouraging children to learn by discovering things for themselves rather than just memorizing information. This could prepare people to do the kind of problem solving that intelligence tests require.
(4) Flynn limited the possible explanations when he looked carefully at the test data and discovered that the improvement in scores was only on certain parts of the IQ test. Test takers didn’t do better on the arithmetic or vocabulary sections of the test; they did better on sections that required a special kind of reasoning and problem solving. For example, one part of the test shows a set of abstract shapes, and test takers must look for patterns and connections between them and decide which shape should be added to the set. According to Flynn, this visual intelligence improves as the amount of technology in our lives increases. Every time you play a computer game or figure out how to program a new cell phone, you are exercising exactly the kind of thinking and problem solving that helps you do well on one kind of intelligence test. So are you really smarter than your parents? In one very specific way, you may be.
PART A. Circle the correct answer according to the text.
1. The Flynn effect is _____.
a) used to measure intelligence
b) an increase in IQ test scores over time
c) unknown in some parts of the world
d) not connected to our experiences
2. The Flynn effect must be the result of _____.
b) our environment and experiences
c) taking fewer tests
d) memorizing information
3. IQ tests evaluate _____.
a) our knowledge
b) our environment
c) our intelligence
d) our memories
4. Which sentence from the article gives a main idea?
a) Scientists have proposed several explanations for the Flynn effect. b) Because we take so many tests in our lives, we learn test-taking techniques that help us perform better on any test. c) Test-takers didn’t do better on the arithmetic or vocabulary sections of the test. d) For example, one part of the test shows a set of abstract shapes, and test-takers must look for patterns and connections between them and decide which shape should be added to the set.
5. According to the article, newer educational techniques include _____. a) exposure to many tests
b) children finding things out themselves
c) memorizing information
d) improved test scores
6. Why does the author mention computer games?
a) to give an example of technology that improves our visual intelligence b) to explain why young people have poor vocabularies
c) to encourage the reader to exercise
d) to show that young people are not getting more intelligent
7. Which statement would Professor Flynn agree with?
a) People today are more intelligent in every way.
b) People today have fewer problems to solve.
c) People today are taking easier tests.
d) People today have more visual intelligence.