We recently published a chart that shows just how much smarter engineers are than everyone else. Researcher Jonathan Wai of the Duke University Talent Identification Program sent us another interesting study, Creativity and Occupational Accomplishments Among Intellectually Precocious Youths, which evaluated the top 1% performing youths — identified in the 1970s by a talent search — over 20 years. Wai and two other researchers at Vanderbilt University looked at how SAT scores (taken by students at age 13) of this top 1% group predicted future doctorates, income, patents, and tenure at top U.S. universities.
The chart below compares the top (Q4) and bottom quartile (Q1) of the top 1% of performers on the SAT maths section. It shows a significant difference, even among those subsets, in performance later in life (participants were surveyed at around age 33). For example, men in Q4 from one study group earn 13 per cent more than those in Q1.
Wai and the other researchers concluded: “Other factors are indeed important, and we agree that being strongly committed and highly motivated is critical for high achievement. Yet, the data reported here on secured doctorates, maths–science PhDs, income, patents, and tenure track positions at top U.S. universities collectively falsify the idea that after a certain point more ability does not matter.”