IQ Test: All About the Intelligence Quotient and How to Raise It

IQ Test: All About the Intelligence Quotient and How to Raise It

23 September 2022

What is intelligence quotient? How to take an IQ test? Is your intelligence level hereditary? Is it possible to improve your position on the IQ scale? Find out all this and more about IQ in this full article.

Albert Einstein , Marie Curie and Garry Kasparov. What do these three people have in common besides the fact that they made a difference in history, each in their own area? If you answered a high IQ, you are correct. The intelligence quotient or intelligence quotient of these geniuses is way above the population average.


Although today IQ is considered insufficient to determine an individual’s level of intelligence, it is still widely used and quite popular. Some controversies surround the concept and scale of IQ, as well as the tests, but a lot of research and interesting news has also addressed this topic.


Discover here everything you ever wanted to know about the intelligence quotient, see how to take an IQ test and learn how you can improve your intellectual rating.

What is the IQ and the IQ test anyway?

Created at the beginning of the 20th century, the IQ test is the most used way to “quantify” an individual’s cognitive abilities to date. Through the IQ scale, which usually goes from 0 to 200 – but goes over 250 in the case of some geniuses – experts are able to compare the abilities of different people taking into account the global average and, in the case of children, the age group in which are inserted.


For children, the quotient is obtained by dividing the so-called mental age, that is, the age compatible with the person’s psychological development, by the real chronological age. This number is multiplied by 100 and then the result is compared to the categories for the final test rating. In this case, children of different mental age are those who can solve problems developed for older people and therefore have a higher IQ.


The IQ test is far from unanimous. Critics of this method use as an argument, for example, the fact that the test exercises are purely logical and exploit, for the most part, only our rational abilities, which does not correspond to the totality of human intelligence .


Something that complicates the issue even more today is the fact that there are different official tests to measure people’s intelligence.

How is the IQ scale?

Several classifications have been proposed over the years, but one of the most accepted currently establishes that the average intelligence is between 85 and 114 points. People with an IQ above 130 are considered gifted and tend to stand out, as is the case with the personalities mentioned above.


Two-time Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie’s IQ is estimated to be greater than 180. Einstein’s quotient estimates are a little more controversial, but he is believed to have been between 160 and 190.


Even the ranking of chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, the only one on the list still alive, is controversial. Many sources claim that his IQ is as high as 190, while an IQ test carried out on the player by Der Spiegel magazine revealed a much lower number: 135. Be that as it may, Kasparov has an IQ that characterizes giftedness, and this appears in his biography. Chess player, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.


See a well-accepted IQ scale below:


  • Above 130 points: gifted.
  • From 115 to 129 points: above average.
  • From 100 to 114 points: medium high.
  • From 85 to 99 points: low average.
  • From 70 to 84 points: below average.
  • From 55 to 69 points: low.
  • Less than 55 points: very low.

After all, is IQ hereditary?

Many wonder what the secret to having a high IQ is. Was it the result of good parenting? Or the habit of studying a lot? Much is said about the relationship between the high intelligence quotient and genes, as there are cases of very young children who demonstrate above normal intelligence.


Research conducted in 2001 by Professor Paul M. Thompson of UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) showed that having relatives with high IQs increases your chances of also having a high IQ.


From  studies with identical and fraternal twins, it was noticed that the areas of the brain related to language and cognitive abilities are quite similar, demonstrating that your brain development and your IQ are directly related to genes.


However, other recent studies show that the relationship between genes and IQ is not so decisive. According to the book Intelligence and How to Get It, by University of Michigan psychology professor Richard Nisbett, at most 50% of high IQ is a result of genes, as opposed to the 80% that many scientists used to advocate. The researcher managed to prove that the environment in which the child lives directly influences their level of intelligence.

Yes, a person’s IQ can be changed

An individual’s IQ can increase or decrease according to their experiences. This change is especially common among teenagers, according to a study by University College London , published in the journal Nature.


In a series of studies carried out in 2004, with adolescents aged between 12 and 16 years, the researchers analyzed, with the aid of MRI structures, the brains of the subjects studied. The teenagers were also subjected to intelligence tests.


After four years, the tests were redone and the scientists found changes in the brain structure and changes in the IQ of young people. In some cases the value had increased, in others it had decreased.


In his book, Nisbett also cites IQ changes among children. According to the author, children who were born orphans increased their IQ level after being adopted by middle-class families. In addition, children who have not studied for months fall on the IQ scale, especially those who do not have the habit of reading . 


Another example of the importance of the environment for intelligence is an experiment carried out in Finland. In the late 1970s, Finnish educators proposed a program in schools that, rather than focusing on high grades and good results, encouraged self-analysis and an understanding of the relationship between student and study. A decade later, these same children graduated with great results and good prospects for the future.


In this way, both Nisbett and the Finnish researchers showed that, to be smart, it is not necessary to play the genetic lottery. With strategies that reinforce the importance of a good study environment , students will be able to enjoy learning more and obtain better results.

How to raise your IQ

Although any measure to raise IQ is most effective in childhood and adolescence, it is possible to “invest” in your intelligence quotient even if you are over 18 years old. A change of habit that you can – and should – make for this is to incorporate the practice of physical exercises into your daily life.


According to research by the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, young people who exercise regularly have the highest IQ and are more likely to go to college. The positive effects are especially noticeable on logical thinking and verbal comprehension. Being in shape means that, in addition to having great lung capacity, your brain receives a lot of oxygen.


The study also shows that if exercise is practiced regularly between the ages of 15 and 18, cognitive performance increases. Added to this is the fact that individuals who were physically fit by age 18 have been shown to be more likely to enter higher education and obtain successful jobs.


In addition to physical exercise, dedicate yourself to reading, acquire new knowledge and constantly challenge your brain to raise your IQ. Research indicates that learning to play a musical instrument is also a great way to improve your cognitive skills. This activity, if practiced frequently, can increase the practitioner’s IQ by up to seven points in the long run.

IQ or effort? Which is more important?

When it comes to academic and professional success, experts say it’s better to be hardworking than to have a high IQ. There are many studies that prove the effectiveness of self-discipline in the face of intelligence.


Research by the University of Pennsylvania , for example, has shown that young people with greater willpower and discipline get higher grades and pass the best colleges, regardless of IQ. In the experiment, 164 North American students had their intelligence quotient and level of dedication and discipline analyzed. The young people who were most successful were the ones with the most self-discipline.

According to the survey, these students were more successful in every academic sense. Self-discipline, more often than not, was what determined whether the student would improve his grades throughout the year, not IQ.


So if you are disciplined, stay in class, spend less time procrastinating and more time doing homework and studying, you can be sure that you will be more successful academically than many people with higher IQs than you. your.

Facts about the intelligence quotient

IQ is not just an intriguing subject for laymen, but for many researchers. If we were to gather all the interesting discoveries on the topic in recent decades, this article would be endless. So, we have selected the most impressive trivia about the IQ. Check out! 

Older siblings tend to have higher IQs

Norway’s National Institute of Occupational Health observed in a study that the eldest son usually has 2.3 IQ points higher than his youngest, a difference that increases with each new sibling. That is, in a family of three siblings, there would be a difference of 6 points between the oldest and youngest of them all.


This variation, according to data collected in 2007 with about 250,000 Norwegians aged between 18 and 19, stems not from biological issues, but from psychological ones, more specifically from the relationship between parents and children.

Nocturnal habits and high IQ are related

In 2009, researcher Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics analyzed the relationship between nighttime habits and IQ in the article “Why night owls are more intelligent” . According to data collected in this extensive study, people with higher IQs tend to sleep later.


For Kanazawa, this relationship can be explained by evolutionary issues. The “Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis” theory proposes that more intelligent people have a greater tendency to acquire new evolutionary preferences than those of average intelligence. Since the ancestors of human beings used to have more disposition throughout the day, nocturnal habits would demonstrate greater cognitive complexity of individuals who adopted this different routine.

The bigger your brain, the higher your IQ

According to a University of Washington study , brain size is related to IQ level. The researchers evaluated brain variations through scanners responsible for sectoring each part of the organ responsible for intelligence. According to the study, brain size influences IQ by 6.7%.


The research aimed to examine the role of neural connections between the left prefrontal cortex (located behind the forehead) and the rest of the brain. This area is so important that it corresponds to 10% of our intelligence. According to research, it is possible to say that the number of these connections can predict the individual’s intelligence: the more connections, the higher the IQ. It is therefore possible to measure someone’s intelligence by scanning their brain.

High IQ increases propensity to use drugs

Children with a high IQ are more likely to use drugs in adolescence and adulthood, concluded a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health . The study analyzed data from 8,000 Britons in the British Cohort Study, an ongoing survey that tracks the development, from birth, of a range of individuals born in the UK in the 1970s.


The IQs of children aged 5, 10 and 16 were examined. Then, it was analyzed whether these same individuals, when they reached the age of 30, reported having used drugs such as marijuana, amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin in adolescence or in the previous year.


What the researchers found was that men with higher childhood IQs were twice as likely to use illegal drugs as their peers who had lower levels of intelligence. Women with high IQs were up to three times more likely to use drugs. The study considered as high IQ values ​​those above 107 points.


Lead researcher James White, a professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, said previous research had already found that most people with high IQs lead ordinary lives, but are more prone to binge drinking in adulthood.


However, it is unclear why people with high childhood intelligence scores have this predisposition to drug use. The suspicion is that these people are more open to new experiences and the search for new sensations. Other possible reasons are that they get bored more easily or that they find in drugs a way to deal with the fact that they feel different.

IQ no longer matters as much in hiring teachers

IQ was once more important in hiring teachers. Today, questions such as didactics and resourcefulness in the classroom began to add up more points than the IQ and also the indication of colleagues.


In the hope of improving their teaching staff, some HEIs ( Higher Education Institutions ) have gone beyond what they were doing and started to apply more complex methods of teacher selection. To differentiate who has the necessary skills or not, some institutions innovate and even apply a test class.


Ana Flávia de Faria Guimarães, secretary general of the executive board of FESPSP (Fundação Escola de Sociologia e Política de São Paulo), one of the institutions that recently changed its teacher hiring programs, says that current selection processes value teaching skills and pedagogy of the professional, in addition to mastering the content.

What IQ test to take? Can you trust online tests?

Today, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III) is the best-known IQ test in the world and one of the most renowned, applied by thousands of institutions. There is also a specific test for children under 16, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.


In addition to the Wechsler, there are a number of intelligence tests available in Brazil, but it is important to verify that the assessment you choose has the approval of the Federal Council of Psychology . Some of the intelligence assessment instruments supported by this entity are:


  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale;
  • Raven’s Advanced Matrices;
  • Concise Test of Reasoning (CCT);
  • Vienna Matrix Test (WMT);
  • Development Test of Inductive Reasoning (TDRI);
  • Inferential Reasoning Test (RIn Manual).


The Federal Council of Psychology does not guarantee the validity of any of the psychological tests carried out over the Internet. If you really want to take a serious IQ test, it’s best to go to a qualified psychologist or a reputable institution.

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