I recently took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE ) as I planned to pursue a PhD part time in Financial Engineering at a university though many of my friends questioned the sanity of my decision. I was a bit appalled when I saw my quantitative score was a seventy percentile in comparison to my quantitative score of ninety+ percentile when I took the same exam twenty four years back. No wonder much to my disappointment I was not accepted into the PhD program which placed a high onus on a very high quantitative score in the GRE exam. I was confounded by the question If my quantitative skills really declined with age. I really doubted that possibility and attributed my bad quant score due to the vagaries of the GRE exam.
I acknowledge I put little effort into preparing for the exam than how I prepared twenty four years back and interestingly my verbal score also showed a marked decline in terms of the percentile droppings not as glaring as the drop in my quant scores. From my point of view I look at these tests GRE, GMAT and SAT as aptitude tests and by default you fall into a certain score bracket and a little bit of practice and luck can push you into the higher bracket. As these tests test your aptitude the assumption would be your score should remain the same irrespective at what age you take the test. In my case the theory was debunked and was in marked contrast to the oft repeated Entity Theory of Intelligence and gives more credence to the Incremental theory of Intelligence.
Here we go what really are these two theories of Intelligence? In social and developmental psychology, an individual’s implicit theory of intelligence refers to his or her fundamental underlying beliefs regarding whether or not intelligence or abilities can change, developed by Carol Dweck and colleagues.