Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 89 / OCTOBER 1987 / PAGE 34


Keith Ferrell

Requirements: For the IBM PC and compatibles with a minimum of 256K and a CGA (Color Graphics Adaptor) card.

Have you ever wondered what your IQ is? Or have you finished an IQ test at school or work and wished you had a chance to take the test on your own time? We encounter many different types of psychological tests at various points in our education and careers, and many of us are frustrated at their impersonality. Now there's a piece of software that lets you test your IQ, and other psychological performances, on your PC.

Mentor, the first product released by Heuristic Research, is a disk packed with more than 50 separate tests aimed at examining and improving your memory, reaction time and coordination, perception and balance, aural pitch, as well as your general mathematical and verbal intelligence. Thrown in for good measure is a biorhythm chart.

The program contains instructions, information, and tutorials on disk. Mentor's manual announces itself as the smallest set of instructions in the world, and it just may be. Simply insert the disk in drive A:, type mentor, and begin. Mentor will run on monochrome composite monitors, however, a color graphics adaptor (CGA) is required. Its setup features include user-specified resolution, text size, and colors.

Start Testing

The first thing you encounter after booting the program and supplying it with your name and birth date, is a menu offering your choice of psychological tests, IQ tests, biorhythm, and information about the program and screen setup options.

The psychological test section offers further choices. You may be tested for memory, reaction, coordination, or general perception. In turn, each of these options narrows the parameters of your test even more. For example, as well as offering three difficulty levels, the memory test section offers you the option of being tested for memory of color patterns, sound and pitch, numbers, or letters.

Mentor suggests that you run the program's introduction before undertaking any of the actual tests, and that's good advice. Part of doing well on IQ and similar tests is knowing how the tests work; Mentor gives you a glimpse of its operations before you start testing. Forewarned is forearmed.

It's also advisable to start each testing sequence at the easiest level, however confident you are of your abilities. When testing your memory of numbers, for example, the program flashes seven digits, then prompts you to enter them in the correct order. At the easiest level, you see the digits for one second; at the most advanced level, the numbers are onscreen for only a quarter of a second.

Once the digits disappear, it's up to you to enter them, in the correct sequence, as quickly as you can. Mentor lets you know whether you are right or wrong and how long your attempt took. It also keeps track (on the screen) of the number of correct attempts you've made, as well as showing how many of the digits you got right for each example. The disk includes similar tests for letters, color, and sound.

IQ Tests

Mentor's general IQ tests are as tough and thorough as any I care to attempt. A typical test gives you 50 questions to be answered in 40 minutes. The questions and exercises stretch your verbal, numerical, and visual skills and perception. In addition to general IQ tests, there are specific verbal and numerical ability tests.

Verbal questions take several forms. One question might ask you to enter the word that matches both of two dissimilar words outside the parentheses; an example is: ARROW (____) FASTENER. That is one of the simpler questions (the answer is bolt). Other verbal ability tests request that you complete a sequence of letters or supply a word based on others in a group.

Numerical ability tests likewise take several forms. You are asked to provide the right number for a sequence or to fill in a blank in a relation of numbers.

Readers who have taken IQ tests will recall the sections where a series of similar geometric shapes are presented, with the final space blank, to be filled in with the proper selection. That type of test, too, is included in Mentor. As the requirement of a CGA card implies, the program's graphics are excellent, with detailed resolution that gives you a fair chance to study the relationships among the figures so you may select the correct answer.

When your 40 minutes are up, the program evaluates your performance, presents you with its measurement of your IQ, and offers you the chance to go through the information section once more. It's worthwhile to read through the information more than once—this section gives good, general advice on the nature of psychological tests. In fact, I'd like to see the information section expanded, as it would be nice to learn more about the nonstandard tests that Mentor includes.

Think Fast!

Mentor also provides reaction, perception, and coordination tests. You can check your eye-hand, ear-hand, and eye-ear-hand coordination. My favorite from this section of the program presents you with a pattern of dots scatered across the screen, challenging you to position the cursor at the center of the pattern. It's harder than it sounds, and much harder than it looks.

Other general psychological tests include perception of quantities. In one timed test, you are given a few seconds to ascertain the number of dots on the screen. As with all of the other tests in Mentor, these are challenging and informative.

Just for fun, the program also includes a biorhythm generation chart that produces a graphics representation of your emotional, intellectual, and physical cycles over the month of your choice. There is also an information section that discusses, without endorsing, biorhythm.

Mentor is an impressive package. Its on-disk documentation suggests that it can be used for self-improvement, for monitoring the intellectual development of children, and for preparation for actual psychological tests. All true, but the program can also serve as an effective mental "exerciser" just the sort of thing to sharpen thinking skills and hone analytical instincts and abilities. The program is packed with so many tests and configurations of tests that it should be hard to exhaust its challenges.

If you are curious about your intellectual and psychological abilities, Mentor is an affordable, provocative, and entertaining way to learn about yourself while improving your ability to succeed at such tests.

Mentor: Psychometric Software
Heuristic Research
3112-A West Cuthbert Ave.
Midland, TX 79701