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Studying IQ of 87, still worth pursuing physics?

  1. Mar 1, 2017 #1
    When I was 16 years old my psychiatrist gave me an IQ test and I scored really low, a mere 87. The reason why I'm asking this question is because I don't want to make the mistake of studying something that is outside of my intellectual boundaries.

    My only strength in the IQ test was pattern recognition (matrices) and insight (ability to understand concepts such as science). Whereas my weaknesses were speed, block design (basically 3D rotations and 2D) and pictures and similarities (trying to find similarities between pictures), the last two are used to determine my perceptual ability. Another weakness I had was memorisation, basically I had to remember a picture and redraw it, I missed a lot of details and the type of details were different each time I re-drew the image.

    What should I do? My interest in physics started when I was a kid, only until the age of 14-15 did I start to realize what physics actually implied, and since then I absolutely loved learning physics even though I was quite slow, had very bad grades and weak mathematical skills (or skills in everything for that matter).

    I then went on to HS and was still motivated until the third year because of depression. Grades were improved remarkably and I actually started liking mathematics over physics for some reason.

    Any Suggestions? I'm 19 years old right now, and very motivated to learn even though I'm not the sharpest person.

    I did study physics in university, I found linear algebra and calculus to be very interesting and something I actually enjoyed.
    Mechanics was also quite interesting but because of my declining health I had to drop out before being able to seriously study mechanics. Programming was moderately interesting, difficult but interesting.

    So should I return to physics? I really like learning physics. The biggest reason why I'm doubtful is because I tend to be slow and rather uncreative when solving problems. I can understand concepts easily, but when it's about problem solving I'm as dull as a banana.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2017 #2
    An IQ test is not an end all authority and no indication of fate. The answer is a resounding YES!
     
  4. Mar 1, 2017 #3

    Choppy

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    I agree with Greg.

    If you want to study physics and you're able to do it successfully, study physics. The evidence of successful performance in physics classes vastly outweighs a low score on a single test you took three years ago that was at best tangentially related to physics.
     
  5. Mar 1, 2017 #4

    StatGuy2000

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    To the OP:

    It's also worth keeping in mind that an IQ assessment at age 16 is not an especially assessment of your overall cognitive abilities. Factors such as lack of sleep or fatigue, among others, may well have played a factor in your "low" score at the time (I recall in another thread that you are or were dealing with depression). So don't be too concerned about what this single test result means -- it means very, very little, and should have no impact on whether you can study physics -- because you can!
     
  6. Mar 1, 2017 #5
    Who cares about an IQ test that was made at age 16? Your brain was still young and growing and it will still grow to its full potential at age 23!

    Actually that IQ number is just a number nothing more.

    Btw do you know that Einestein was considered dumb when he was at school?

    Evaluate your self if you feel comfortable with math and physics then go for it.
     
  7. Mar 1, 2017 #6
    I would want a more particular assessment of your abilities in math and science. If you can complete an ALEKS algebra 1 pie with over 90% and score in the 20s in science and math on the ACT by age 16, I'd say keep working hard and see where you go from there.

    When someone is entering college, I'd recommend an ALEKS pre-calc pie of at least 90% and ACT scores above 26 in math and science. Below that, and majoring in physics is going to a tough road. Of course, folks in the physics department at the school you wish to attend can likely give a more specific assessment of your long term chances of success as a physics major at their school.

    But even so, my recommendations tend to be based on my experience of students not being willing to persevere if graduating looks like it may take significantly longer than 4 years. Math and science skills are not static. They can be improved over time with hard work. How long and how hard are you willing to work? Any snapshot in time can really only estimate how long and how hard it will take. It's not really over until you decide to give up.
     
  8. Mar 2, 2017 #7

    ZapperZ

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    It's amazing that you'd tell us explicitly your IQ scores and yet, you did not provide us the quantitative scores of all your tests and exams. You never did tell us the grades you obtained in your math and physics classes, etc., or your overall GPA. In other words, you told us your IQ score which is of less importance in this context, and neglected to tell us the scores that truly matter.

    If you have A's and B's in your math classes, then it would not matter if you score even a -100 in your IQ test! If you have C's and D's in your math classes, then it would not matter if you score even a 300 in your IQ test.

    You are focusing on the WRONG thing.

    Zz.
     
  9. Mar 2, 2017 #8
    We don't have GPA in Sweden. In high school I mostly got C in science and mathematics, problem is I didn't study properly back then which made me learn ineffectively. Right now at least I find it much easier to learn about the theoretical aspect of subjects such as linear algebra and calculus, haven't tried solving problems yet so I don't know if I'm actually ready to do university level problem solving.
     
  10. Mar 2, 2017 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Then maybe rather than wasting time figuring out if your IQ score is good enough, you should be spending time figuring out IF you are able to do all those mathematics. As it is right now, what is hindering you from going into physics is not your IQ score (unless that is a requirement for university acceptance in Sweden), but rather your poor understanding of mathematics. That is what you should be focusing your effort in.

    Zz.
     
  11. Mar 2, 2017 #10
    Well of course I have a poor understanding of mathematics, I only studied a little in university so I didn't really get to the end of those courses. During that little time in university, I found that learning the mathematics wasn't that difficult, only required a bit of time spent outside of university.
     
  12. Mar 2, 2017 #11

    ZapperZ

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    How would you know that it "wasn't that difficult" considering that you have not done any tests on your understanding? Just because you "think" you understood it doesn't mean you do, especially without any kind of evaluation.

    In any case, do you think your original question in this thread has been sufficiently answered?

    Zz.
     
  13. Mar 2, 2017 #12
    You're probably right on that, I did however find most practice problems to be moderately easy but I didn't do any exams so not sure if it really is easy. Looked at last year exam questions and they were a bit complicated.

    I will give physics another shot, just haven't made up my mind on whether I should go for physics or engineering physics. Gonna do some more research on that.
     
  14. Mar 2, 2017 #13

    hilbert2

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    An IQ value doesn't necessarily tell the whole picture, if you have some kind of neurological problem (ADHD, dyslexia or similar) that makes your performance look bad in situations where you're constrained to solve problems in one "correct" way only without any space for creativity. But of course, only a medical professional can judge that.

    I personally have Asperger's and it just makes learning math and sciences easier, because I can concentrate really intensely on things that I find interesting.
     
  15. Mar 2, 2017 #14
    Yeah I also have Asperger's, any advice?
     
  16. Mar 2, 2017 #15

    hilbert2

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    I can't really see any of the telltale signs of low intelligence (poor spelling and sentence construction) in your writing. The IQ test you're talking about has probably been done when you've not been at your best (because of depression or some other reason).
     
  17. Mar 3, 2017 #16

    Student100

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    IQ score is meaningless. Not just "not telling you the whole picture" it's literally wipe your butt with it and set it on fire worthless.

    If you've gotten mostly Cs in high school you need to figure out out why that is and fix it. Not just "kinda think about it and think I know why" but actually make a concentrated effort when you go back to university.

    This. You have to do problems, you haven't actually learned until you can apply what you've read to problems.
     
  18. Mar 3, 2017 #17
    Trust me mate, you are not stupid, whatever that psychiatrist and this "IQ" test says. Based on the way you think and formulate yourself, I'm confident you are intelligent, and the fact that you recognised the beauty in linear algebra (and university-level calculus) by itself is a good sign for a career in STEM. IMO, many who are mathematically talented only start appreciating maths when they reach university. And, since you suffer from some mental issues, it's very possible that your mind was clouded when you took that test.

    At any rate, why are you allowing some one-time performance in a dubious test define you as a person? I also wouldn't worry about solving problems: the majority of first-year physics students at my university had serious trouble solving the problems too, and, in fact, many of them gave up and changed programs exactly because of that (and these people were all cream of the crop in High School ). I think the main reason behind this was that they (1) weren't making enough of an effort and (2) learned through rote instead of understanding.

    To sum up: Don't worry about what some unreliable test and a psychiatrist, who probably doesn't give a shite about you by the way, says, and don't be too pessimistic as it's probably just your depressed mind playing tricks on you. Rather, bite your lips and try doing physics for one year and then see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, then fine, you're not the first and not the last (and you're not stupid), but if it does: go forth and conquer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
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