Measuring Intelligence

At the urging of American psychologists, the U.S. Army instituted intelligence testing, intended in part to help match recruits to roles best suited to their abilities. Although the military discontinued the program after the war, the practice created a demand for similar tests in education and business and launched new ideas about personnel management. While proponents saw testing as a rational, merit-based method of evaluation, critics argued that the tests were culturally biased and favored educated test-takers. 

Individual examination of a recruit, 1917–1918
From Psychological Examining in the United States Army

Group examination Alpha and Beta tests, 1918
The U.S. Army developed two written aptitude tests: the Alpha, for test-takers who could read in English, and the Beta, for test-takers who could not read or did not speak English. American schools adopted similar tests after the war.

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Pictorial completion test, 1917
The U.S. Army used a variety of non-written tests to help assess the mental abilities of a diverse population. This test required individuals to select appropriate objects to complete each scene.
Gift of Emporia Kansas State College, Department of Psychology

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Stenquist construction test, around 1918
This test, developed by educator John L. Stenquist, required individuals to assemble simple household objects. Although the U.S. Army abandoned its use after initial trials, schools and businesses that valued mechanical skills continued to use the test.
Gift of Carnegie-Mellon University, Department of Psychology

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Score values for various types of performance with Stenquist materials, around 1917
From Psychological Examining in the United States Army