My IQ was measured at 125 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test. The Wechsler test is divided into two sections: a verbal score and a performance score. I scored 125 on the verbal portion and 100 on the performance section.

The test evaluator saw significance in the fact that there was a wide disparity between my verbal score and my performance score. She wrote in the test report:

“Mr. Freedman is currently functioning at a superior level f intelligence according to his Full Scale IQ of 125 (95th percentile) on the WAIS-R. His Verbal IQ is 136 (99th percentile) and his performance IQ is 100 (50th percentile). The highly significant 36-point difference between his Verbal and Performance IQ was primarily associated with his very superior scores on two Verbal Scale sub-tests and his somewhat lower score on one Performance Scale subtest. Thus, while visuo-motor skills are more uniformly developed in the average range of functioning, verbal skills show more variability, with some abilities more superiorly developed than others.

A closer inspection of the notable differences in his sub-test results may be helpful in understanding his strengths as well as the difficulties that he does report. Within the verbal area, his learned memory ability, richness in ideas, and fund of information are excellent. Within the performance area, he has difficulty anticipating, judging, and interpreting both the antecedents and consequences of social situations would result in misguided assumptions. Furthermore, his proclivity to overintellectualize at times jeopardizes his ability to think clearly in situations calling for the application of social mores and expression of emotional relatedness.”

Perhaps the ultimate significance of the disparity between my verbal score and my performance score remains unexplained.

Let us look at a similar case. Richard Feynman was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Coincidentally, our IQ scores are the same: 125. There was probably a wide disparity between Feynman’s verbal score and his performance score.

Upon starting high school, Feynman was quickly promoted into a higher math class and an unspecified school-administered IQ test estimated his IQ at 125 — high, but “merely respectable” according to biographer James Gleick; When he turned 15, he taught himself trigonometry, advanced algebra, infinite series, analytic geometry, and both differential and integral calculus. Before entering college, he was experimenting with and deriving mathematical topics such as the half-derivative using his own notation. In high school he was developing the mathematical intuition behind his Taylor series of mathematical operators.

His habit of direct characterization sometimes rattled more conventional thinkers; for example, one of his questions, when learning feline anatomy, was “Do you have a map of the cat?” (referring to an anatomical chart).

Ultimately, what is the significance of a wide disparity between the verbal and performance sections of an intelligence test?