When did you last take an IQ test?

Last updated date: 04-Jun-2022


14 mins read

IQ test

What is IQ?

Intelligence quotient, most often abbreviated as IQ, is defined as a measure of one’s mental and reasoning abilities, determining how well one uses information and logic in their daily life. In other words, it is considered to measure one’s intelligence, yet nowadays, it is very controversial due to modern concepts such as emotional and spiritual intelligence. Additionally, another source of disagreement is represented by whether differences in people’s IQ levels are caused by genetics or simply environmental influences.

The term was originally used in the year of 1912 by the well-known psychologist William Stern, being linked to the German “Intelligenzquotient”. At that time, IQ was calculated as a ratio of one’s mental age to chronological age, multiplied by 100. However, the evolution of technology and psychological sciences implied new, modern methods of measuring one’s intelligence and intellectual potential. 


What is an IQ test? How do IQ tests work?

An intellectual quotient test measures one’s mental potential, as described above by using various indicators. IQ tests are designed to evaluate a person’s long-term and short-term memory and reasoning and other skills required by problem-solving situations. They come in many forms, although most of them consist in solving different puzzles, memory games and completing certain tasks. The two primary components of the test are verbal and non-verbal.


What are IQ tests used for?

There are many reasons why testing one’s intellectual levels is needed. On one hand, it may help professionals in the process of diagnosing certain intellectual disabilities, such as Fragile X syndrome or developmental delay. Intellectual disabilities are medical conditions characterized by having an IQ lower than 70 (while the general median IQ is 100) and difficulties regarding everyday tasks, self-care, safety, and social situations. These conditions can be caused by multiple factors, including genetics, issues during pregnancy, environmental factors or other health problems. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for parents to want to find their child’s IQ for school performance or for adults to require them in order to guide their career or evaluate job suitability.


A short history of IQ testing

IQ testing

The first intelligence test ever was created in the 1900s by Alfred Binet, a French psychologist. Later on, Henry Herbert Goddard translated this test from French to the English language, representing the foundation of modern IQ testing methods in the United States. However, Goddard is considered to be a controversial figure in psychology due to one of his arguments stating that people that don’t have high IQ levels as a result of the test shouldn’t procreate. When current IQ tests were invented, the average score was considered to be IQ 100. Mensa International (the largest and oldest non-profit organization for people with high IQ levels) admits every individual whose score is in the 2% of the total population. Society accepts all types of tests that are standardized and accepted by professional psychologists’ associations. The most popular IQ tests are represented by Stanford-Binet and Cattell. Usually, people qualifying for Mensa get results of 132 or more in the Stanford-Binet test and 148 or more in Cattell.

Some people that are worth mentioning for contributing to the development of modern intelligence tests are:

  • Sir Francis Galton- a scientist who measured people’s acuity of vision and hearing and evaluated their reaction times to certain stimuli.
  • James McKeen Cattell- developed the world’s first mental test in 1890, yet it turned out that it couldn’t predict academic achievement.
  • Alfred Binet- as previously mentioned, he was the one to develop the first modern IQ test in 1905, his primary goal being identifying children that are unable to keep up with their classmates and peers in the educational system. The test consists in questions implying knowledge and simple reasoning.
  • William Stern- attempted a more accurate approach, modifying the way age is involved in calculating IQ. He suggested that the mental age should be divided by the former instead of subtracting the real age from the age resulting from the test.
  • Lewis Terman- he is well known for revising the Binet’s test and creating a more appropriate norm’s test and creating a more appropriate norm. He published it as the Stanford-Binet test, as he was a psychologist at Stanford University. Another modification he adopted was multiplying the final result by 100. However, this method can only be applied properly to children.
  • David Wechsler- eventually, the problem regarding calculating IQ in adults was solved by David Wechsler by comparing performance to the distribution of the test results, leading to an average adult IQ of 100.

Internationally, IQ scores have increased significantly since the early 1900s, a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect”. Professionals believe that the population didn’t necessarily become more intelligent, but they did improve their abilities to think logically and solve different types of problems because of an increase in formal education.


Types of IQ tests

Types of IQ tests

As described above, multiple psychologists have worked intensely in order to develop different types of IQ tests. Even though the vast majority are intended for children, some of them can also be used for adults. Here are the most common types of IQ tests:

  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  • Universal Nonverbal Intelligence
  • Differential Ability Scales
  • Peabody Individual Achievement Test
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
  • Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Disabilities


How to get IQ tested?

IQ tests are mostly given by specialists, and licensed psychologists, being composed of several subtests. For example, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale is made of 15 parts, all measuring a different aspect of the IQ, including language skills, math, reasoning, memory and the rapidity of information processing.

It is well known that modern technology offers online IQ tests, yet they are not reliable when a medical diagnosis is required. In case one suspects an intellectual disability in themselves or a loved one, it is best to seek for help from a medical professional. This is important because during a child’s development years, treatment may be vital.


Are IQ tests accurate?

It is essential to bear in mind that the results of an IQ test only measures one’s intellectual potential as determined by that specific test in the particular time of the day the test is taken, meaning that there could be many factors influencing the score. Lack of sleep, not having breakfast or simply feeling unwell that certain day may lead to lower results. 

However, IQ testing results are typically accurate because psychologists attempt to consider other factors as well. For example, they may examine a child’s school performance and environmental aspects in addition to the test itself. Considering all the background information, psychologists are trained to find the possible causes of results that are very different from what was expected in the first place.


How IQ is measured and what the score indicates?

IQ score

Standardized IQ tests are given and scored by trained administrators. The score represents how you compare to your peer group in:

  • language
  • reasoning abilities
  • processing speed
  • visual-spatial processing
  • memory
  • math.

People with a high IQ score generally have above-average reasoning and problem-solving abilities, which signal intellectual potential. On the other hand, an IQ of 70 or below may indicate limited intellectual functioning. It is important to remember though, that IQ alone does not fully define a person’s intellect. In addition to IQ, the testing of social, practical, and conceptual skills is needed to make that kind of determination.


Is IQ important?

People are often disappointed by not receiving the results they desired, yet low IQ scores do not necessarily determine low quality or unsuccessful lives. For the most part, individuals have the capacity to learn at their own pace, no matter what their IQ scores are. Knowing a student’s IQ score helps the teachers to assist the child’s needs in specific areas.

As mentioned, an individual’s intelligence quotient does not determine their success in life, because it only measures their potential, excluding other essential factors such as their ambition, motivation and capacity of working under pressure in stressful situations. At the same time, one having a high IQ may also suffer from anxiety or other psychological conditions that imply difficulties in school performance, especially during tests and exams. Considering these facts, although IQ testing results contain information about one’s intelligence, they are unable to tell the whole story.


Signs of different types of intelligence

  1. Empathy- usually defined as the ability to experience things from various perspectives, empathy is one of the key components of emotional intelligence.
  2. Valuing solitude- a person that often wants to recharge on their own, often known as an introvert, does show a sign of intelligence according to some studies. Specialists believe that the reason is that the more time one spends socializing, the less time they have for introspective thinking and developing their own interests.
  3. A strong sense of self having solid perceptions on one’s own traits, life values and goals is also a sign of a high-level intelligence. The process of ‘discovering’ oneself may take time, as it can take some effort to be comfortable expressing themselves freely or deciding on a path that aligns with their values.
  4. Always desiring to know more- it is not uncommon for one with a high IQ score to regularly ask questions on various topics, enjoy reading and exploring foreign languages and other cultures, as curiosity is strongly linked to intelligence.
  5. Having a good memory- it is extremely easy for some people to remember things they’ve observed (visually or auditory), a skill that suggests fluid intelligence. Additionally, intelligence can be shown in physical contexts as well. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence may reflect into good dexterity and coordination skills.
  6. Being good at handling difficult situations and challenges- certain events in one’s daily life require intelligence in over to overcome specific obstacles.
  7. Worrying- even though it is mostly considered a negative element in one’s life, people that tend to worry too much about things are often very intelligent as well. One of the explanations is that they feel more secure and they can handle challenges well because they have already “prepared”, brainstorming possible solutions for the specific issue they expected.
  8. Good emotion management- the way people deal with unwanted emotions may also suggest their levels of emotional intelligence. Generally, an individual having a high emotional intelligence is able to recognize complex feelings, understand how they affect their behavior and how to appropriately express them, at the same time of exercising self-control.
  9. Having a pet- something as simple as having a pet may increase one’s emotional intelligence, as pets tend to make one feel less lonely and they help with stress management.


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

IQ and EQ

  • What is the difference between IQ and EQ?

One’s emotional intelligence mentioned above can also be measured using EQ (abbreviation for emotional quotient), referring to one’s ability to sense emotion in themselves and others. While IQ typically involves using logic in order to solve problems, strategizing, using language and adapting to sudden modifications, EQ refers to being able to identify emotions, empathizing, being self-controlled and communicating with others in a healthy, controlled way.

There are several tests that were designed to measure one’s emotional intelligence, such as the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Tests, the Situational Tests of Emotional Management, the Situational Tests of Emotional Understanding and the Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy. The abilities these tests focus on are divided in five areas, including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation and social skills.

Both IQ and EQ may have strong impacts on the quality of one’s life and accomplishments, yet scientists confirm that IQ levels are mostly linked to academic and job performance, while emotional intelligence has more effects on relationships with other people.


  • Is it possible for one to improve their IQ or EQ score?

As the human brain is a very complex organ, professionals are intensely debating if it is possible for an individual to improve their intelligence level. Even though most studies suggest that one’s IQ is stable throughout their life, others imply that teenager years may be the best time for an individual to increase intelligence (as well as decrease it), as they can improve some of their skills such as memory and focus.

Although there is no strong evidence supporting that cognitive training can raise one’s overall intelligence level, being receptive to new information and practicing different activities may help one enhance their abilities to concentrate, learn more, remember details and enrich their imagination.

Some activities that improve one’s quality of life and may positively affect IQ testing results are reading, solving puzzles, playing music, and being involved in group discussions. Another strategy that can be considered in case a person desires to improve their IQ and EQ scores is participating in emotional intelligence training programs, where the main focus remains the ability to work in teams, manage conflicts and simply improve job performance.


  • What is the average IQ in the United States? 

As previously described, IQ tests are designed to have an average score of 100. When being IQ tested, 68% of people receive results ranging from 85 to 115. A low IQ is considered to be any number below 70, while a high one is usually above 130. It is well known that many factors may affect the results. Other than the actual situation of the person receiving the test on that specific day, environmental factors may also count, such as access to education, nutrition aspects and the incidence of infectious diseases. These are the main reasons why IQ average scores vary from country to country.


  • What are the top countries by average IQ?

Many researchers conducted various studies regarding the IQ levels in different countries. The results placed the United States of America 24th in the world, tied with countries like Australia, France and Spain. Surprisingly, the countries with the highest IQs in the world are not Western as one might have thought, but Asian. Hong Kong and Singapore are tied for first place with an average IQ of 108, a full 10 points higher than the average American IQ. They are followed in ranking by South Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan. Looking at the other side of the spectrum, the countries with the lowest IQ level are all from the African continent, with Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho coming at the bottom with IQ scores that are only in the 60s, a bit more than half of the IQ scores that Hong Kong or Singapore received. These rankings however should be taken with a grain of salt, as many have questioned how reliable they can be considering the small sample sizes used.


  • What is a high IQ score?

IQ tests are constantly adapted to correct for any bias that might disadvantage their takers. Even though there are several versions of IQ tests in use, all IQ tests use the score 100 as the average. This means that IQ test scores are distributed as a bell curve with the peak of 100, with lower scores represented on the lefthand slope of the curve and higher scores on the righthand slopes. Most people score between 85 and 115, so in the middle of the bell curve. Only 2 percent of people have a score over 130, which makes them outliers. You don’t necessarily have to be an outlier to have a high IQ score, but just have a higher IQ score than most of your peers.


  • What’s the highest possible IQ?

Theoretically, there’s no upper limit to an IQ score, which means that it’s unclear which score is actually the highest ever gotten. There are many claims of extraordinarily high IQ scores, but documentation is hard to come by. The fact that IQ tests have changed quite a bit over the years also makes it quite challenging to compare results from different eras. The Australian mathematician Terence Tao is thought to have an IQ of 220 or 230. Regardless of whether that is true or not, Tao is still very impressive, as he started high school at the age of 7, earned his bachelor’s degree at the age of 16 and finalized his doctorate by the time he turned 21.

In 2017, India Times reported that a British 11-year-old girl achieved the fantastic score of 162 on her Mensa IQ test. Renowned scientists like Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking are both believed to have an IQ of about 160, which makes the young girl’s score remarkable indeed.


  • How much does IQ testing cost?

While most online tests are absolutely free, they are not reliable options, as they are not accurate. Real intelligence quotient tests are performed by trained professionals, being well structured and researched based on medical and psychological evidence. Prices may vary depending on several aspects, including the person that administers the test, its quality and the test instrument. In the United States of America, licensed psychologists with experience in IQ testing typically charge anywhere from $200, but the prices may go as up as $1000.




The intelligence quotient is designed to measure one’s intellectual potential, referring to the amount of time it takes them to solve different problems and puzzles and the evaluation of other elements such as memory, language skills and math. Psychologists have worked on developing accurate IQ tests for a long time. The primary purpose is to diagnose intellectual disorders and estimate one’s abilities related to academic performance and job performance.

IQ tests are only promising to find one’s potential regardless of other essential factors such as motivation, ambition or opportunity, meaning that one’s IQ testing results are not able to determine their chances of living a high-quality, successful life. However, when a person desires to increase their score, certain practices such as reading and exercising problem-solving may help, even though there is no scientific evidence supporting this information. According to some studies, the country with the best IQ average score is Hong Kong, followed by Singapore and South Korea and the one with the lowest IQ average is Malawi.


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