[MCAT] Hard work vs. intelligence

A student’s academic success depends more on hard work than on intelligence.

Describe a specific situation in which a student’s academic success might depend more on intelligence than on hard work. Discuss what you think determines whether a student’s academic success depends more on hard work or on intelligence.

* * * *

Intelligence can be defined as the innate ability for fast, accurate thought processing, which can be measured using the Intelligence Quotient. Clearly, both the innate ability and the training and practices are imporant in determining a student’s academic success, but whether nature or nuture has a larger influence on how well a student does in school has never been settled. The statement in question clearly lands support on nurturing the student by intense training and education, or what the statement calls “hard work”.

In most cases, this may indeed be true. In a classroom of students, the brightest minds may not score the most points on a given test; rather, those who work hard on reviewing the material covered obediently are often the good test-scorers. Academic success beyond grades also befalls those who work hard rather than those who are born intelligent: in a research lab, where a collection of bright minds work together in understanding the subject in study, good experimental results are more likely obtained by those who painstakingly repeat the trials with high precision. Intelligence may play a limited role in this setting because research groups work in teams, where collective intelligence is somewhat normalized.

However, at least in some subject areas, academic success requires more intellectual talent than can be compensated with hard work. In mathematics, the ability to do arithmetics can surely be trained, but a comprehensive understanding of mathematics seems to require some instinct of the subject that cannot be taught and learned. In Asian countries, students train systemically to do arithmetic operations faster and more accurate than any other students in the world, but the winners of World Olympiad in Mathematics are not always Asian. Einstein doesn’t even have a well-founded degree in particle physics, but his academic success in this field outshines every modern physicist.

It is discouraging for the students to tell them that academic success depends on intelligence, for this would strip the relevence of education. For students of all intelligent levels, the harder they work, the more likely they will achieve greater academic success. If Einstein slacked off, he probably would not have created the Theory of Relativity. However, the same encouragement may become a frustration when students are put in a competitive environment; for an intellectually less previliged student who cannot seem to do math as well as the more intelligent students no matter how hard he tries, telling him that his success depends more on hard work than his intelligence only implies that he is not working hard enough. Rather than insisting that hard work is more important, one has to personalize the education for each student and find out which is the limiting factor for him or her, his or her work ethics, or intelligence.

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9 thoughts on “[MCAT] Hard work vs. intelligence

  1. i have a debate tomorrow..and the topic is determination and perseverance are more important than intelligence and talent to achieve sucess.and my group is an opposition sides…how the intelligence and talent can help someone to achieve sucess anyway?

  2. Nature Vs. Nurture. Ofcourse if you put these independently, neither would win. However, people tend to say that only the intelligent tend to be hardworking (it should come as logic), but you could also argue that the poor (being forced upon them by surroundings of unintelligent people) could also become hardworking.

    Either way, you cannot give one intelligence, but you can easily make one hardworking (with inspirational teaching etc.).

    This therefore makes me feel that education has got substantial flaws, one being competition at the end of each learning session. Why bother competing with an intelligent person, if they are bound to win?
    People with immense memory would always (logically) outcompete others in tasks involving difficult content.
    People with immense mathematical ability would always (logically) outcompete those who may have practiced maths all their lives.

    When I say logically, I mean taking away the random event variable.

    I would like to add, that the outliers I mentioned above DO exist, and there deserves to be a bit of freedom for both groups of people.

    Let the intelligent compete with only the intelligent, and let the less performing compete with the similar.
    Level out the playing field so even the weak get a chance-we have the moral responsibility to do so.

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