Are You Smart or Wise?

LIFESTYLE

By: Elisabeth Henderson

6 Min Quiz

Image: Ascent/PKS Media Inc./ Stone/ Getty Images

About This Quiz

People often use the words “smart” and “wise” interchangeably, though they hold widely different meanings. The word smart refers to a person’s capacity for “intelligence” or the “ability to acquire and apply knowledge.” This capacity has to do with the way a person’s mind can hold on to information and use it to compute, work out problems rationally and apply the answers effectively. Wise, on the other hand, has more to do with the way a person makes sound judgments that come from a wealth of experience. Wisdom doesn’t come just by having a lot of experience, though, it grows by profoundly reflecting on your experience and listening to the experience of others. 

An example of a smart person who doesn’t have much wisdom would be a physicist who can describe to you how gravity affects planetary motion but does not know what to do when they fall in love. On the other hand, a person you would you go to for wise counsel when you are at a crossroads in your life and trying to find the right path, may not be the right person to explain to you why the Roman Empire fell. 

Are smart and wise people just two different types, or do they overlap? Wisdom and smarts are both qualities that can be learned over a lifetime, though they may require more work for some personalities than others. Usually, no matter which camp you fall in, you can grow by learning about the other side of knowledge. Open your mind with these questions! 

In a history class on the developments that led up to World War II, what would you focus on?

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If you were studying the way a flower absorbs energy in botany, what direction would your mind be pointing?

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If your romantic partner suddenly left you for someone else, what would you draw on to help you get through the breakup?

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When a child asks you, “Why is the sky blue?” how do you respond?

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What type of person do you immediately want to spend more time with after meeting them for the first time?

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Which of the following subjects are the most important for college students to learn?

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If you are reading Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” what are you concerned about?

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What factors do you consider first when planning a vacation?

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While taking a walk with your closest friend, what would you spend the most time talking about?

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If you were touring a cave’s dramatic formations, where would your mind be?

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When you learn something new, what do you want to do with the information?

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Which of the following experiences would leave you with the most satisfaction?

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When you are working through an issue in your family, how do you usually process?

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If you gave someone advice and later realized you were wrong, what would you do?

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When you are in a job interview, how do you describe what skills you’d bring to the company?

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When a friend comes to you with a relationship problem, how do you come up with solutions?

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Which type of problem would you rather deal with on a weekend?

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In a conversation with coworkers about strategies at work, how do you typically participate?

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If you read something in a book that goes against your own experience, how might you react?

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Which of the following represents a more important form of knowledge?

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When you look at a mosaic tile arrangement, what do you think about?

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For which of these problems are your friends most likely to come to you for help?

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How smart are you compared to other people you know?

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When you are preparing a feast for your closest friends, what is foremost on your mind?

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If you are wondering what your true calling is in life, what source would you turn to for counsel?

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If you find yourself in a heated political debate, what tactic do you take?

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Which of the following would teach you the most about horses?

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When you come to the end of your life, what will you hope to have in your mind?

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When you approach a painting in a museum, what question do you ask?

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What should children learn first?

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