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Can you pass this 3-question IQ test? 4 in 5 people can’t

There are only three questions in this test. (Source: Getty)

There are lots of ways intelligence can be tested – and one of the ways is your ability to stave off your intuitive responses or ‘gut feel’ in search of the right answer.

The original Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), developed by psychologist Shane Frederick in a 2005 paper, is only three questions long – but demonstrates two types of ‘cognitive abilities’: system 1, which reacts quickly without reflection, and system 2, which is slower and requires conscious thought or deliberation.

According to Frederick’s paper, first reported by, only 17 per cent of people out of 3,428 respondents – many of whom were US Ivy League universities – got all three right.

These are the questions:

  1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

  2. If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

How many did you get right?

If you followed your gut instincts, the answers might at first glance appear to be 10 cents, 100 minutes, and 24 days.

But the answers are 5 cents; five minutes; and 47 days.

If you caught yourself before locking in your answer, you’ll have seen how quickly your brain supplies an answer.

“The three items on the CRT are “easy” in the sense that their solution is easily understood when explained, yet reaching the correct answer often requires the suppression of an erroneous answer that springs “impulsively” to mind,” Frederick wrote in his paper.

When it comes to the CRT, men and women are not made the same

It seems like men and women diverge quite a bit when it comes to answering this short IQ test: men scored “significantly higher” than women.

“Women’s mistakes tend to be of the intuitive variety, whereas men make a wider variety of errors,” Frederick wrote.

“For every CRT item (and several other similar items used in a longer variant of the test) the ratio of ‘intuitive’ mistakes to ‘other’ mistakes is higher for women than for men. Thus, the data suggest that men are more likely to reflect on their answers and less inclined to go with their intuitive responses.”

“Expressed loosely, being smart makes women patient and makes men take more risk.”

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