10 Differences Between Book Smart People And Genuine Intelligence

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Intelligence and knowledge are two different things. Even if someone is not exactly what we'd call "book smart," it doesn't mean that they're not intelligent.

What exactly is book smart?

We call book smart someone who is educated either in school/university or by studying and learning by themselves through educational activities such as books, documentaries, and various courses. Book smarts are usually reasonably intelligent. That's because no one could learn and understand without a particular amount of intelligence. Nevertheless, if you meet someone who is not book smart, don't be quick to assume that they're of lower intelligence.

A lot of people who have not had many academic opportunities have high intelligence despite that they're not book smart. Because intelligence is a trait, we are born with, as a part our genetic makeup. Our IQ is a measurement of our intelligence and doesn't change, but can only develop to a certain extent.

Intelligent students preparing for exams together

Your intelligence level can apply to a mixture of kinds of intelligence; some of us are good at maths, some can relate well to others, and some of us can do both with the same success. That doesn't have anything to do with education. It's natural. Education can only help you develop what you already have. Conversely, being educated to a high level doesn't necessarily guarantee an exceptionally high IQ.

More types of intelligence

There are various types of intelligence. IQ measures can only tell us about intellectual ability (and there are lots of issues regarding its accuracy). However, there are plenty of different types of intelligence including:

  • Logical-mathematical (intelligent about numbers and reasoning)
  • Naturalist (intelligent about nature)
  • Musical (intelligent about sound)
  • Interpersonal (emotional intelligence)
  • Existential (life intelligence)
  • Linguistic (intelligent use of words)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (physical intelligence)
  • Intra-personal (awareness of self)
  • Spatial (intelligent understanding of symbols, space, composition, etc"¦)

So which are the differences between book smarts and really intelligent people?

1. Book smart people can list facts and data. However, they don't necessarily have a deeper comprehension of the topic.

2. Book smart people have a lot of general knowledge and do well at quizzes, but they might struggle with more complex ideas.

3. Intelligent people have a natural ability for some things, whether that is science, languages or being sociable.

4. Intelligent people use their instincts more when they want to make decisions. On the other hand, book smart people rely more on tried and tested strategies.

5. Book smart people are frequently educated to a high level.

6. Book smart people have usually studied hard to reach their level of knowledge.

7. Some intelligent people are not educated to a higher level.

8. Intelligent people are sometimes street smart because they have learned from experiences rather than books.

9. Intelligent people are often creatively smart, looking for alternative ways of doing things rather than relying on rules or recipes.

10. Intelligent people prefer direct experiences rather than following others' ideas and experiences.

Of course, book smart people may also be intelligent and vice versa.


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Katerina Papakyriakopoulou

A highly motivated media and communication graduate, specialized in arts and culture analysis research. She's writing at