In today’s world, IQ tests and international IQ tests remain hugely popular with individuals of all ages, all backgrounds, and all intelligence levels. There’s something comfortingly universal about certified IQ tests, and the standard IQ test is still used by academies, schools, and employers alike to ascertain an individual’s intelligence quota.
Despite this, IQ tests are widely misunderstood… as is the notion of intelligence and intelligence testing as a whole. Let’s dive into the world of IQ tests, their background, and the way they’re calculated, and attempt to find out what they’re actually all about.
IQ Tests and the Definition of Intelligence
It should come as no real surprise that ‘intelligence’ is something which, by its very nature, is difficult to define. Scientifically, intelligence is usually defined within the parameters of cognitive intelligence – ie, the ability to use logic, facts, and reasoning in a successful way – and academic intelligence. A popular definition would be that intelligence involves intellectual and cognitive abilities, used in a way to both obtain and use knowledge for the purpose of problem solving.
Simply put, one could say that intelligence essentially refers to how clever you are… and that ascertaining just how clever or intelligent you are requires the use of an IQ test.
Early IQ Tests in Psychology
The French psychologists Binet and Simon were the founders of the very first widely-used IQ tests, formulated initially to help educators in France see how their students’ intelligence related to one another. However, there were other intelligence tests which used similar principles, and which had the potential to also become widely used and highly popular.
One of the most well-known of these was the Alpha and Beta tests, used in World War One to assess army personnel. One could also point to the Wechsler scales, a widely used instrument in the realm of psychology, used for the measuring of intellectual capacity. Indeed, Wechsler used both the Alpha and Beta tests and Binet and Simon’s IQ test as inspiration, and importantly, Wechsler understood the importance of age as a factor in assessing an individual’s IQ. This approach would later feed back into certified IQ tests, allowing the disparate approaches and theories to come full circle.
What is the Intelligence Quotient?
The ‘IQ’ in IQ test is an acronym for Intelligence Quotient. This is a measurement of intelligence, ascertained from a set of questions, and expressed in a numerical form.
One of the main misunderstandings of certified IQ tests is that the average IQ is always 100. Should a test subject score higher than 100, then they can be said to be more intelligent than the average person. Conversely, a lower score suggests lower-than-average intelligence.
Your IQ tells you your score on a particular IQ test, and this is often relative to your age group. Each test will have a mean score based around the average of 100 points, and will feature a standard deviation of 15 points. This standard deviation simply means that 68% of the entire population, if tested, would score a point which lies between the deviations of 85 and 115. Based upon the same scale, 95% of the population will achieve a score between 70 and 130.
IQ Test Results in Practice
To put this in another way, if your IQ test result score is exactly 100, this means that exactly half of the population will score lower than you, and exactly half of the population will score higher than you. In the same essence, a score of 130 means that 97.5% of people (in your age group) will achieve a lower score than you, and only 2.5% will achieve a higher score in their IQ test.