Test the Nation

Test the Nation final episode
Test the Nation has been discontinued in the UK since 2007

Test the Nation is a concept and television show that first appeared in the Netherlands in 2001. The purpose of the show is to test the nation’s IQ in a form of National IQ test.

Test the Nation would eventually find its way to the UK , Ireland and Canada although the UK BBC version of the show, hosted by Anne Robinson would quickly become the most famous of these national IQ tests.

The format of the show would take the turn of a studio audience taking a live IQ test in order to ascertain the nation’s IQ. It eventually became possible for television viewers to interactively participate in the show by answering questions online.

Test the Nation was a timed IQ test which included questions included involving among others, memorization exercises , analogies and word unscrambling.

From the perspective of an online IQ test developer, the BBC’s test the nation was very poorly designed. It contained a mixture of questions that measure both fluid and crystallized intelligence, in addition to general knowledge which is of little relevance when it comes to the measurement of intelligence. On this basis, the test was really a confused crystallized IQ test that was totally geared to a UK audience and I question whether the score would have correlated highly with a professionally administered IQ test.

Test the Nation: a confused IQ test

Administering a verbal or crystallized IQ test has its merits although the test questions then end up favoring individuals with higher education. Further, Test the Nation’s questions were not at all applicable or fair to the UK’s immigrant population (c.12% of the UK population was foreign-born in 2010). As an example in the scrambled word section of the 2003 test, the following anagram: nraelpeoa had to be solved.

The the Nation was making the assumption that the above anagram would result in an unbiased question but the developers were clearly misguided. Many parts of the world would never even have thought that the word aeroplane could be formed from the above, particularly as the “airplane” is the more popular spelling globally.

Further, knowledge based questions based on facts of the United Kingdom have no place in IQ testing. For instance, another section of the test was called “Everyday Symbols”. In this section, pictures of items like road signs were distorted or modified and the test taker’s’ task was to identify the correct version of the symbol. As an example, the test taker would have needed to identify whether the cover of the British Passport was correctly drawn, or whether the font for the symbol of the BBC was correctly depicted. These types of questions are more suitable for a pub quiz than for an IQ test and have little to do with general intelligence. BBC’s Test the Nation was discontinued in 2007, and I see no reason to revive it in the format that it had.

I am a believer that a National IQ test that is the most interesting would have been a fluid IQ test with heavy emphasis on Gloaded novel IQ questions.

Similarly, culture-fair fluid IQ tests are much more applicable to online IQ testing, with a global audience.

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