How can a brief test administered to a 12 year old be so good at picking out individuals who are likely to be exceptionally successful at age 38? If I hadn't been repeatedly told otherwise by "experts" I might conclude it had some validity ;-)
Who Rises to the Top? Early IndicatorsThe authors note that about 2% of the US general population earn doctoral degrees (JD, MD, PhD), whereas about 22% of gifted students who test at the top 1% level do so, and 44% percent of this population (in the 1 in 10k population there were many times more PhDs than MDs and JDs). From the paper:
Youth identified before age 13 (N = 320) as having profound mathematical or verbal reasoning abilities (top 1 in 10,000) were tracked for nearly three decades. Their awards and creative accomplishments by age 38, in combination with specific details about their occupational responsibilities, illuminate the magnitude of their contribution and professional stature. Many have been entrusted with obligations and resources for making critical decisions about individual and organizational well-being. Their leadership positions in business, health care, law, the professoriate, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) suggest that many are outstanding creators of modern culture, constituting a precious human-capital resource. Identifying truly profound human potential, and forecasting differential development within such populations, requires assessing multiple cognitive abilities and using atypical measurement procedures. This study illustrates how ultimate criteria may be aggregated and longitudinally sequenced to validate such measures.
... Other investigators have observed the importance of ability patterning for differential accomplishments in education and the world of work among talented students (Gottfredson, 2003; Wai, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2009), and even students in the top 1% of ability (Gohm, Humphreys, & Yao, 1998; Park, Lubinski, & Benbow, 2007). However, the current investigation studied participants who were profoundly gifted (top 1 in 10,000), as indicated by at least one SAT score. Moreover, for 94% of these participants their less impressive SAT score placed them in the top 1% of ability—and the lower score for 78% was in the top 0.5% (see Fig. S1 in the Supplemental Material); almost all members of this sample had both mathematical and verbal reasoning abilities higher than those of the vast majority of Ph.D.s in any discipline (Wai et al., 2009, Figs. 6 and B1).
... More than 7% of participants held tenure at research intensive universities (including many considered the best in the world) by the time they were age 38. The 14 attorneys were predominantly working in positions of significant responsibility for major firms or organizations. The 19 physicians were also highly accomplished: Seven were assistant professors, 2 were directors of major private practices, and 1 codirected a hospital organ-transplant center serving more than 3 million people. Rather than working for established organizations, 14 individuals founded companies of their own. Two individuals were vice presidents at Fortune 500 companies; 2 others were Fortune 500 senior hardware or software engineers. Several participants were active in government agencies at local and federal levels—one advised the president of the United States on national policy issues.