How to test for and measure creative intelligence

A standardized test means that the test has been created and is scored in a standard or consistent way.

In these types of tests, any question is expected to be answered in a specific way, a normalized response is graded as the standard. So anyone who answers with the standard response is given a passing grade.

Standardized tests work well in education systems where the end-goal is to get the student up to speed. To teach quickly and efficiently solutions to things that are relatively well-known (like 2+2 and what happens when you drop a led ball from a height). Creativity, by definition, is the exact opposite: the unknown, the original.

This explains why creative intelligence is immeasurable from standardized tests. Creativity means new, original, thought. How can you determine whether a thought is original or not if it’s graded against what already exists; a known standard?

And yet tests to measure this exact thing have been created. The Torrence Tests of Creative Thinking, for example.

Most creativity tests measure the person’s ability to come up with unique thoughts in a quantitative way, utilizing flexibility in those ideas as an indicator of quality. While this method certainly gives a general overview of a person’s ability to think, it isn’t necessarily reflective of creative ability.

Just because one person can come up with 100 ways to use a brick and another person can only come up with 20, who is more creative? How do you know?

The logical solution, it seems, is to not measure the number of unique ideas, or the ability for an individual to come up with those ideas, but rather to focus on the impact of the ideas themselves. How grand and different are the ideas, what are their impact, have they ever been thought-up before, and are they feasible?

Unfortunately tests that measure these metrics take time, because each student would need to be graded on a per-person basis. Additionally, the end result is still not reflective of true creative intelligence. It’s limited to pre-conceived notions (if a person says a use for a brick would be to create a time machine, is that not creative?)

It’s better, then, to not measure creative intelligence by what you see on the cover. Instead, to test and measure a person’s creative abilities: see what they’ve done in the past, what ideas they’ve propelled forward, what work they’ve created. That’s the true measure of creative intelligence.

Photo by Alberto G.