“Intelligence Quotient” is the term used to describe a person’s “mental age” as a way of gauging human intelligence. IQ scores are placed on a scale where 100 is considered “average” intelligence, and each standard deviation is 15 points above or below that. It is thought that about two-thirds of a given population is within one standard deviation of the mean, or between IQ 85 and IQ 115.
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There are many different tests used for measuring IQ. No one test is universally accepted as the “official” test, although the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children are the most commonly used individual IQ tests. Some other IQ tests include:
- Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales
- Woodcock–Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities
- Raven's Progressive Matrices
- Cattell Culture Fair III
- Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales
- Differential Ability Scales
- Das–Naglieri cognitive assessment system
There are many free IQ tests you can take online to get an idea of where you may fall on the IQ scale. Some examples include:
- Practice Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
- Practice Stanford Binet Test
- Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities Sample Questions
- Practice Test for Raven’s Progressive Matrices
- Cattell Culture Fair III Practice Test
Additional free IQ tests are available online that are not representative of any one specific IQ test. Some examples include:
IQ Test Content Description
As there are many different individual IQ tests available, it is difficult to list a definitive description of IQ test content. The following is based on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), which is the most widely used individual IQ test.
The WAIS-IV (4th Edition) identifies four index scores which represent the major components which make up intelligence:
- Verbal Comprehension Index
- Perceptual Reasoning Index
- Working Memory Index
- Processing Speeds Index
Collectively, these four main index scores are comprised of 15 subtests, 10 of which are considered “core” subtests. They are organized as follows:
Verbal Comprehension Index
The Verbal Comprehension Index Score is made up of three core subtests and one supplemental. Core subtests are in bold:
- Similarities- This subtest presents two words which represent common concepts or objects, and asks the test taker to describe ways in which they are similar. This is to measure formation of verbal concepts and reasoning.
- Vocabulary- The test taker is asked to name an object based on a picture, and to define words based on an oral or visual representation. This is to measure word knowledge and formation of verbal concepts.
- Information- The test taker is asked to answer questions drawn from a wide range of general topics. This is to measure skills at acquiring, retaining, and retrieving general facts and information.
- Comprehension- The test taker is asked to answer questions based on knowledge of generalized principles as well as social situations. This is to measure the ability to use past experiences to form practical understanding and judgement.
Perceptual Reasoning Index
The Perceptual Reasoning Index Score is made up of three core subtests and two supplemental. Core subtests are in bold:
- Block Design- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will view a picture and a model, or just a picture, and recreates the design using blocks. This is to measure the test taker’s ability to analyze and synthesize visual stimuli.
- Matrix Reasoning- The test taker will view an incomplete matrix or series, then selects which response option he or she thinks best completes this matrix or matrix series. This is to measure broad visual intelligence, fluid intelligence, spatial and classification ability, understanding of part-whole relationships, perceptual organization, and simultaneous processing.
- Visual Puzzles- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will view a completed puzzle, and select three options which can be used to reconstruct the same puzzle. This is to measure nonverbal reasoning ability, as well as the ability to analyze and synthesize visual stimuli.
- Figure Weights- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will view a scale which has missing weight, and will select the response that would balance the scale. This is to measure analogical and quantitative reasoning.
- Picture Completion- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will be shown a picture or pictures with an important missing part. He or she will choose the answer choice which identifies the part that is missing. This is to measure concentration, visual organization and perception, and recognition of essential visual details of an object.
Working Memory Index
The Perceptual Reasoning Index Score is made up of two core subtests and one supplemental. Core subtests are in bold:
- Digit Span- The test taker is read aloud a sequence of numerals and recalls them in the same order they were initially read. They might also be asked to recall them in the reverse order, or to provide the numbers in ascending or descending order. This is to measure mental manipulation, working memory, rote memory and learning, encoding, and attention.
- Arithmetic- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will mentally solve a number of arithmetic problems. This is to measure concentration, mental manipulation, short term memory, long term memory, attention, mental alertness, and numerical reasoning ability.
- Letter-Number Sequencing- The test taker is read aloud sequences of numbers and letters and will recall the letters in alphabetical order, and recall numbers in ascending order. This is to measure mental manipulation, sequential processing, concentration, attention, short-term auditory memory, and memory span.
Processing Speed Index
The Processing Speed Index Score is made up of two core subtests and one supplemental. Core subtests are in bold:
- Coding- The test taker will copy symbols which are paired with numbers within a specific time limit, using a paper key. This is to measure learning ability, processing speed, visual perception, and visual scanning ability. The test taker will complete this subtest using the same paper key as was provided to them.
- Symbol Search- Within a specified time limit, the test taker will scan a search group, and will indicate whether any of the symbols in the target group matches the search group. This is to measure short-term visual memory, processing speed, visual-motor coordination, visual discrimination, cognitive flexibility, and speed of mental operation. The test taker will complete this subtest using a provided response booklet.
- Cancellation- Within a specific time limit, the test taker will scan an arrangement of shapes, marking specific target shapes. This is to measure visual selective attention, processing speed, vigilance, visual-motor skills, and perceptual speed. The test taker will complete this subtest using a provided response booklet.
IQ Test Administration
There is no one way to administer an IQ test, because they are all different. In general, IQ tests are administered one-on-one, with a trained psychologist. Due to the large number of subtests in many IQ tests, these tests can sometimes take a long while and breaks are given to break up the testing day.
IQ Test Fees
IQ test fees can vary widely, due to the different kinds of tests and reasons for taking them, such as:
- Employers may test potential candidates for a position
- The military may use IQ tests to determine new recruit positions
- Schools may administer IQ tests to determine placement in a special education program
- Private schools may use IQ test results to determine admittance
- An individual might simply be curious about his or her IQ, or want to get into an organization like Mensa.
All of these examples may use different IQ tests, and they could all be paid for by the organization ordering the test or the test taker themselves. In general, IQ tests are usually between $0-$200.
IQ Test Requirements
There are no requirements for taking an IQ test, other than if an organization requires an individual to take one for a particular reason.
IQ Test Scores
Receipt of scores will depend largely on which IQ test is being taken. In general, accepted IQ ranges are as follows, from the WAIS-IV:
|IQ Score Range||WAIS-IV Classification|
|69 and below||Extremely Low|
An IQ test is a great way to see where you fall on the intelligence quotient scale. Make sure to begin taking practice IQ tests today so you know what to expect.