IQ Testing

Written by Brian Krans | Published on July 3, 2012
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD

What Is IQ Testing?

IQ testing can help determine your level of intelligence relative to others in your age group. “IQ” is an acronym for “intelligence quotient.”

There are several standardized IQ tests available. Two of the most widely recognized are the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales and the Wechsler tests.

There are numerous online questionnaires that claim to be IQ tests. These should be viewed as entertainment only. Few have any scientific backing.

Why IQ Testing Is Performed

IQ testing is used to help gauge a person’s mental aptitude. Unlike educational tests—such as the ACT and SAT—IQ testing does not aim to measure what a person knows. Its goal is to measure mental capability.

Testing is normally done on school-aged children. It can help parents and educators identify learning disabilities and behavioral concerns. Testing can also identify especially gifted students.

How to Prepare for IQ Testing

No preparation is needed for an IQ test.

How IQ Testing Is Performed

IQ tests are typically written exams. In some instances, the tests may be given orally.

The Wechsler test includes three age-specific tests:

  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence: children ages 2 to 7
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children: children 6 to 16
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale: people 16 and older

The Wechsler tests use a variety of questions to test:

  • verbal skills
  • reasoning
  • memory
  • processing speed.

The current Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test measures abilities including:

  • general intelligence
  • reasoning
  • knowledge
  • visual-spatial reasoning (Becker, 2003)

Interpreting IQ Test Results

Average scores for the Wechsler and Stanford-Binet tests are between 90 and 110. A score below 70 indicates mental retardation. Those who score over 165 are considered geniuses.

IQ testing is often criticized. For example, many believe that the tests are culturally biased. Results may depend as much on motivation and other factors as on innate intelligence.

Individual sections of these tests may be somewhat more accurate than the overall “IQ score.” However, your IQ test results should not be used to make assumptions about your talents or potential. These tests are designed for specific, diagnostic purposes.

Can You Improve Your IQ Test Results?

IQ scores are not numbers you study to improve. However, if you are unsatisfied with your IQ test results, there are ways you may boost your mental ability:

  • read everyday from a diverse source of material
  • establish a regular sleep pattern
  • exercise regularly
  • watch educational programming
  • challenge your mind with brainteaser puzzles
  • discuss and analyze the issues of the day with family and friends
  • enroll in community college or other continuing education courses
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