The IQ was developed to measure your intellectual intelligence. Though a high IQ is not the only factor determining intelligence, it is a common measure used to describe a person’s potential in life and diagnose certain intellectual disabilities. This article breaks down several ways to increase your IQ levels.

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Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to boost your IQ levels? Well, as it turns out, it may be possible with the right kind of intellectual training.

Research suggests various ways to develop some of the most crucial skills measured through IQ testing. This article explores some of the activities that can boost your IQ.

IQ, short for intelligence quotient, is a measure of a person’s mental ability and how it compares to that of their peers. This measurement was popularized in the 1900s by a French psychologist named Alfred Binet.

A person’s IQ level is measured using standardized testing administered by licensed psychologists and, in some cases, those with graduate-level mental health training. When many people take the test, it is possible to compare each person’s score to the rest of the scores.

Common standardized IQ tests include:

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V)
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Adults (WAIS-IV)
  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition (SB5)

Does your IQ level determine intelligence?

Your IQ level measures your reasoning ability, along with things like spatial visualization, memory, and quantitative analysis. While these can be important markers of intelligence, they aren’t the only ones. Moreover, cognitive intelligence alone is not the only predictor of a person’s intelligence or success in life.

For instance, research shows that IQ tests do not measure creativity well. They also do not measure emotional intelligence or critical thinking. These are all factors that can significantly influence a person’s achievements in life.

Numerous biological, social, and environmental factors can determine how a person might score on an IQ test at any particular time and how a person’s life turns out irrespective of their IQ measurement. This includes the person’s health, genetic history, social or economic status, access to education, and more.

This also makes it hard to determine how legitimate of a measure an IQ test can be for people from historically marginalized groups or for those from different cultures and worldviews.

However, doctors can use IQ measurements as a first step in diagnosing certain mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

Learn more about controversies around IQ testing.

Your IQ testing can be a useful marker of your intelligence. But the actions you take and your efforts throughout life can matter just as much.

But if you do want to boost your IQ, research shows that consistently doing exercises in various areas measured by IQ tests may be able to raise your scores.

The following activities may help you improve in various areas such as reasoning, planning, problem-solving, and more.

1. Memory activities

Memory activities don’t only improve memory but can also enhance reasoning and language skills. In fact, memory games have been used in research studies to explore how memory relates to language and object knowledge or someone’s understanding of a physical object.

Reasoning and language are both used as intelligence measures, meaning that memory activities can continue to develop intelligence.

Activities that involve memory training include:

  • jigsaw puzzles
  • crossword puzzles
  • concentration card game, or card matching
  • sudoku

2. Executive control activities

Executive control is the ability to control complex cognitive activities and high-order functions, like making decisions, orienting attention, and organizing and managing tasks.

Executive control is a part of executive function, which also includes executive management and regulation. Research suggests that executive function is strongly tied to fluid reasoning, which is one aspect of human intelligence.

Activities that involve executive control training include:

  • Scrabble
  • Pictionary
  • red light, green light
  • brainteasers

3. Visuospatial reasoning activities

Visuospatial reasoning involves the mental processes related to physical representations. For example, reading and interpreting a map involves visual-spatial reasoning and processing.

In one study, researchers found that improving visuospatial reasoning led to an increase in IQ test scores. In that study, memory and executive control activities were used in part to help improve participants’ visuospatial reasoning.

Another study found that visuospatial reasoning abilities were associated with young Chinese students’ academic achievement in math and reading subjects.

Activities that involve visual and spatial training include:

  • mazes
  • point-of-view activities
  • 3-D models
  • unfolded prisms

Online IQ games and tests

Many of the games and activities listed above can also be played online. There are also online IQ games that contain activities that work many of the areas of the brain mentioned above.

While these IQ games and tests can’t accurately measure someone’s IQ, they can still be a great way to develop your intelligence.

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4. Relational skills

Relational Frame Theory (RFT) relates to human cognition and language development through relational associations.

Relational frame theory argues that the building block of human language and higher cognition is relating, i.e. the human ability to create bidirectional links between things.

For example, understanding that the words ‘dinner’ and ‘supper’ are two different ways to explain the same thing.

Research from 2016 echoes older research that indicates using RFT as an intervention can significantly improve IQ scores in children.

The same study found that children also had improved verbal and numeric reasoning skills after the RFT intervention.

Activities that involve relational training include:

  • language learning books (“this is a…” and “that is a…”)
  • object comparisons (full cup versus empty cup)
  • amount comparisons (penny versus dime)

5. Musical instruments

You don’t have to become the next famous musician to benefit from learning a musical instrument.

One study found that just 75 minutes of music lessons per week for 12 weeks significantly increased IQ scores in preschool-aged children.

A newer 2021 study also showed that instrumental music training may improve some executive functioning in children ages 6-7.

Adults can benefit from music training, too.

Another study found a positive relationship between the duration of musical practice in adults and executive functioning.

Given memory’s important role in intelligence, it may benefit your IQ to finally pick up that musical instrument you’ve always wanted to learn.

However, just listening to music has benefits, too. A 2018 study found that a musically-enriched environment could improve children’s verbal IQ scores.

6. New languages

It should come as no surprise that learning multiple languages is beneficial to the human brain — and the earlier, the better.

However, the age at which you learn a new language may dictate whether or not the practice is helpful in improving your intelligence.

A study from 2020 found that adults who took 11 weeks of language training did not improve their intelligence or IQ scores.

However, a recent study investigated the relationship between early language learning and IQ. The results indicated that language learning through talk and interaction from 18 to 24 months was most beneficial for cognitive outcomes later in life.

While learning a new language at any age can help improve overall cognitive abilities, the critical window for influencing IQ scores is during toddlerhood.

7. Frequent reading

There’s no denying how beneficial books are in human cognitive development. In fact, the benefits of development are even more pronounced when books become part of parental bonding activities.

In one recent study, researchers discovered that when parents read aloud to their children, the child had greater language and cognitive development skills.

8. Continued education

Education, in any form, is crucial to the development of human intelligence.

In a review of studies on IQ and education, over 600,000 participants were studied to determine the effect of education on IQ levels.

Researchers found that participants experienced a boost of one to five IQ points for every additional year of formal education.

Although there are quite a few activities you can enjoy each day that may help raise your IQ score, the following myths aren’t included in those suggestions:

  • taking multivitamins
  • training for an IQ test

Generally, these kinds of activities do very little to help develop the skills necessary to improve your IQ score.

Instead, you should focus on activities that teach your brain skills related to fluid and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is associated with abstract reasoning, while crystallized intelligence is associated with intellectual skill development.

Here are some answers to some common questions about increasing your IQ levels:

Can IQ be increased after 18?

While most researchers would agree that the critical window for learning new information happens when you’re young, few studies have fully explored whether or not there’s a hard cutoff for when your IQ plateaus.

A recent meta-analysis of 42 data sets involving over 600,000 participants up to 63 years of age found that cognitive abilities improved by approximately 1 to 5 IQ points for every additional year of education.

While one may assume that these findings indicate an increase in IQ score after the age of 18 due to higher education, more research needs to be done to understand how age affects IQ score.

How much can you increase your IQ?

The amount by which you can increase your IQ depends on personal and environmental factors.

Researchers from a recent study reimagining a popular 1980 study argue that the 1980 experimental group showed an improvement of 15 IQ points over the control group.

However, more recent data is required to fully understand how much one can improve their IQ score.

How do I support my baby’s cognitive development?

Beyond maintaining a healthy diet pre-birth, research shows that exclusively nursing your baby may be associated with higher IQ scores in young girls. However, this is not always easy to do. Some people are not able to nurse their babies due to financial, social, or medical reasons.

Talking with your baby may help improve their verbal abilities and cognitive skills in adolescence. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a child’s intelligence can be influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors such as:

  • parental IQ
  • genes
  • home life
  • parenting style
  • nutrition
  • education

Birth weight may also play a role in a child’s intelligence.

Moreover, measurable intelligence like IQ by itself does not determine the value of a person or whether they will succeed in life. Many other environmental factors can play a role. Therefore, the best way to set a baby up for a healthy life is to provide them with safety and love, which in turn will give the child the best opportunities in the future.

Although science is on the fence about whether you can raise your IQ or not, research does seem to suggest that it’s possible to raise your intelligence through certain brain-training activities.

Training your memory, executive control, and visuospatial reasoning can help to boost your intelligence levels.

The best way to train these areas of your brain is to engage in thoughtful activities and games, learn new skills, and keep your brain active.