Very Superior Intelligence (i Q 120 To 140)
Children of this group are better than somewhat above average. They are unusually
superior. Not more than 3 out of 100 go as high as 125 I Q, and only about 1 out of
100 as high as 130. In the schools of a city of average population only
about 1 child in 250 or 300 tests as high as 140 I Q.
In a series of 476 unselected children there was not a single one
reaching 120 whose social class was described as "below averag
the children of superior social status, about 10 per cent reached 120 or
better. The 120-140 group is made up almost entirely of children whose
parents belong to the professional or very successful business classes.
The child of a skilled laborer belongs here occasionally, the child of a
common laborer very rarely indeed. At least this is true in the smaller
cities of California among populations made up of native-born Americans.
In all probability it would not have been true in the earlier history of
the country when ordinary labor was more often than now performed by men
of average intelligence, and it would probably not hold true now among
certain immigrant populations of good stock, but limited social and
What can children of this grade of ability do in school? The question
cannot be answered as satisfactorily as one could wish, for the simple
reason that such children are rarely permitted to do what they can. What
they do accomplish is as follows: Of 54 children (of the 1000 unselected
cases) falling in this group, 121/2 per cent were advanced in the
grades two years, approximately 54 per cent were advanced one year,
28 per cent were in the grade where they belonged by chronological age,
and three children, or 51/2 per cent, were actually retarded one year.
But wherever located, such children rarely get anything but the highest
marks, and the evidence goes to show that most of them could easily be
prepared for high school by the age of 12 years. Serious injury is done
them by schools which believe in "putting on the brakes."
The following are illustrations of children testing between 130 and 145.
Not all are taken from the 1000 unselected tests. The writer has
discovered several children of this grade as a result of lectures before
teachers' institutes. It is his custom, in such lectures, to ask the
teachers to bring in for a demonstration test the "brightest child in
the city" (or county, etc.). The I Q resulting from such a test is
usually between 130 and 140, occasionally a little higher.
_Examples of very superior intelligence_
_Margaret P. Age 8-10; mental age 11-1; I Q 130._ Father only a
skilled laborer (house painter), but a man of unusual
intelligence and character for his social class. Home care above
average. M. P. has attended school a little less than three
years and is completing fourth grade. Marks all "excellent."
Health perfect. Social and moral traits of the very best. Is
obedient, conscientious, and unusually reliable for her age.
Quiet and confident bearing, but no touch of vanity.
M. P. is known to be related on her father's side to John
Wesley, and her maternal grandfather was a highly skilled
mechanic and the inventor of an important train-coupling device
used on all railroads.
Although she is not yet 9 years old and is completing the fourth
grade, she is still about a grade below where she belongs by
mental age. She could no doubt easily be made ready for high
school by the age of 12.
_J. R. Girl, age 12-9; mental age 16 (average adult); I Q
approximately 130._ Daughter of a university professor. In first
year of high school. From first grade up her marks have been
nearly all of the A rank. For first semester of high school four
of six grades were A, the others B. A wonderfully charming,
delightful girl in every respect. Play life perfectly normal.
_J. R.'s_ parents have moved about a great deal and she has
attended eight different schools. She is two years above grade
in school, but of this gain only one-half grade was made in
school; _the other grade and a half she gained in a little over
a year by staying out of school and working a little each day
under the instruction of her mother_. But for this she would
doubtless now be in the seventh grade instead of in high school.
As it is she is at least a grade below where she belongs by
mental age. Something better than an average college record may
be safely predicted for J. R.
_E. B. Girl, age 7-9; mental age 10-2; I Q 130._ E. B. was
selected by the teachers of a small California city as the
brightest school child in that city (school population about
500). Her parents are said to be unusually intelligent. E. B. is
in the third grade, a year advanced, but her mental level shows
that she belongs in the fourth. The test was made as a
demonstration test in the presence of about 150 teachers, all
of whom were charmed by her delightful personality and keen
responses. No trace of vanity or queerness of any kind. Health
excellent. E. B. ought to be ready for high school at 12; she
will really have the intelligence to do high-school work by 11.
_L. B. Girl, age 8-6; mental age 11-6; I Q 135._ Tested nearly
three years earlier, age 5-11; mental age 7-6; I Q 127. Daughter
of a university professor. At age of 8-6 was doing very superior
work in the fifth grade. Later, at age of 10-6, is in the
seventh grade with all her marks excellent. Has two sisters who
test almost as high, both completing the eighth grade at barely
12 years of age. L. B. looks rather delicate, and though a
little nervous is ordinarily strong. We have known her since her
early childhood. Like both her sisters, she is a favorite with
young and old, as nearly perfection as the most charming little
girl could be.
_R. S. Boy, age 6-5; mental age 9-6; I Q 148._ When tested at
age 5-2 he had a mental age of 7-6, I Q 142. Father a university
professor. R. S. entered school at exactly 6 years of age, and
at the present writing is 71/2 years old and is entering the
third grade. Leads his class in school and takes delight in the
work. Is normal in play life and social traits and is dependable
and thoughtful beyond his years. Should enter high school not
later than 12; could probably be made ready a year earlier, but
as he is somewhat nervous this might not be wise.
_T. F. Boy, age 10-6; mental age 14; I Q 133._ At 13-6 tested at
"superior adult," and had vocabulary of 13,000 (also "superior
adult"). Son of a college professor. Did not go to school till
age of 9 years and was not taught to read till 81/2. At this
writing he is 151/2 years old and is a senior in high school.
He will complete the high-school course in three and one-half
years with A to B marks, mostly A. Gets his hardest mathematics
lessons in five to ten minutes. Science is his play. When he
discovered Hodge's _Nature Study and Life_ at age of 11 years he
literally slept with the book till he almost knew it by heart.
Since age 12 he has given much time to magazines on mechanics
and electricity. At 13 he installed a wireless apparatus
without other aid than his electrical magazines. He has, for a
boy of his age, a rather remarkable understanding of the
principles underlying electrical applications. He is known by
his playmates as "the boy with a hobby." Stamp collections,
butterfly and moth collections (over 70 different varieties),
seashore collections, and wireless apparatus all show that the
appellation is fully merited. He chooses his hobbies and "rides"
them entirely on his own initiative.
_J. S. Boy, age 8-2; mental age 11-4; I Q 138._ Father was a
lawyer, parents now dead. Is in high fourth grade. Leads his
class. Attractive, healthy, normal-appearing lad. Full of good
humor. Is loving and obedient, strongly attached to his foster
mother (an aunt). Composes verses and fables for pastime. Here
are a couple of verses composed before his eighth birthday. They
are reproduced without change of spelling or punctuation:--
Hurrah for Christmas
And all it's joy's
That come that day
For girls and boy's.
Flowers in the garden.
That is all you see
Who likes them best?
That's the honey bee.
J. S. ought to be in the fifth grade, instead of the fourth. He
will easily be able to enter college by the age of 15 if he is
allowed to make the progress which would be normal to a child of
his intelligence. But it is too much to expect that the school
will permit this.
_F. McA. Boy, age 10-3; mental age 14-6; I Q 142._ Father a
school principal. F. is leading his class of 24 pupils in the
high seventh grade. Has received so many extra promotions only
because his father insisted that the teachers allow him to try
the next grade. The dire consequences which they predicted have
never followed. F. is perfectly healthy and one of the most
attractive lads the writer has ever seen. He has the normal play
instincts, but when not at play he has the dignified bearing of
a young prince, although without vanity. His vocabulary is 9000
(14 years), and his ability is remarkably even in all
directions. F. should easily enter college by the age of 15.
_E. M. Boy, age 6-11; mental age 10; I Q 145._ Learned to read
at age of 5 without instruction and shortly afterward had
learned from geography maps the capitals of all the States of
the Union. Started to school at 71/2. Entered the first grade
at 9 A.M. and had been promoted to the fourth grade by 3 P.M. of
the same day! Has now attended school a half-year and is in the
fifth grade, age 7 years, 8 months. Father is on the faculty of
E. M. is as superior in personal and moral traits as in
intelligence. Responsible, sturdy, playful, full of humor,
loving, obedient. Health is excellent. Has had no home
instruction in school work. His progress has been perfectly
The above list of "very superior" children includes only a few of those
we have tested who belong to this grade of intelligence. Every child in
the list is so interesting that it is hard to omit any. We have found
all such children (with one or two exceptions not included here) so
superior to average children in all sorts of mental and moral traits
that one is at a loss to understand how the popular superstitions about
the "queerness" of bright children could have originated or survived.
Nearly every child we have found with I Q above 140 is the kind one
feels, before the test is over, one would like to adopt. If the crime of
kidnaping could ever be forgiven it would be in the case of a child like
one of these.