Are IQ scores accurate – How to interpret IQ Scores


The world today is complex. Yet it is data-driven. To function in such a world requires certain skills such as quick reasoning, problem-solving, cognition, and numerical ability. IQ test scores have therefore taken on many new meanings and purposes apart from the traditional use of measuring scholastic ability or academic performance.

IQ or Intelligence Quotient is a quantitative measure of intelligence. That may be an oversimplified description of the term because many factors impact the score from age to location, culture, origin, and a few more. At best therefore your IQ will give you an estimate of where you stand in a group.

For instance, the IQ of an Indian student may show a deviation of intelligence from the mean (average) IQ of all Indians. Here’s where you can know more about how IQ scores work and why they are important. Read on to know how to interpret IQ scores.

What do IQ Scores Predict?

Your IQ score is not a prediction. It is a measure of intellect. That said, your IQ test score does not mean much by itself. All it tells you is where you stand among a certain group of individuals.

For instance, if the average score of a given populous is 100 and you score 119, your score may tell you that you are above average for that group and if you score say 82, you rank below average. But if for example, if you are taking the test to understand why a child is under performing at school, you might look at the iq scores for intellectual disability. Or you may want to look at the individual scores in various performance areas such as reading, vocabulary, cognition, numerical ability, reasoning, logic, spatial (abstract thinking), gross and fine motor skills, and so on to see where the child faces a problem. While the overall score may still be presented as a number, the individual scores of each skill will help you understand where your child is lacking so that you can work on those areas.

Different tests are used to measure different capabilities so the purpose for which you are taking the test will impact the scores as well as their interpretation.

How to interpret your IQ test score

As mentioned before, IQ tests are computed for a given populous. So for instance, if you take a test in India and the same test in the United States, the two may show different results for the same individual. Interpreting IQ test scores is therefore highly subjective. A lot depends upon the circumstances surrounding the test. For instance, if you take the same test at the same place with the same practitioner on two different days – once when you are unwell or disturbed, and another when you are fine, the results may vary because your physical and mental health can affect your cognition, processing, and reasoning abilities among others.

With that background, here’s how you can interpret your IQ test scores

IQ test scores are computed as a deviation from the norm. Statistically, norm – or normal distribution – is a value that represents the aggregate or average response of a standardized group . For instance, a test may measure IQ test score by age or age groups such as IQ scores for 14 year old or IQ test score by country to see how are IQ scores are distributed in a population.

Your score is represented as a Standard Deviation (SD) from the norm. Incidentally, SD is a quantity that shows how far from the norm your score is. SD is also applied to the norm to determine the normal range of IQ. So for instance if the norm is 100 and you assume an SD of 15 (15 point range), anyone scoring between 85 to 115 would be considered as having a normal IQ. Consequently, you might interpret a score of say 83 as below average and a score above 117 as genius or high intellect.

Different IQ tests apply different SD to IQ test scores.

As you may have seen, not only are IQ scores depending upon the population considered for the test but also upon the base assumed. Add to this the age of the participant, his cultural background, and current physical and mental state, and the purpose of taking the IQ test – which can also affect the test scores – and you’ll understand why IQ test scores are not considered accurate – yet they do give you a fair estimate of your status and serve the purpose for which IQ tests are taken.

There are many test modules in use for IQ testing.
Depending upon which one is used, the assumptions and scores may differ.

Why are IQ tests so popular?

Despite the highly subjective nature of IQ scores they are used by many to measure the intelligence of an individual. Depending upon the purpose, tests for selective categories may be used. For instance, a recruiter hiring web developers may be interested in the score for reasoning ability and problem-solving while a digital marketer hiring a content writer may be interested in verbal and language skills.

Overall IQ scores do not tell the whole story – only where you stand in comparison to others. But a test taken for a specific reason is meaningful.

Of course, the scores are not set in stone. Different tests will give you different scores. But the scores will generally be within a specific range and – as we already said – serve your purpose. It’s no use stressing out over your IQ test scores – take them with a pinch of salt. On the other hand, they do serve a purpose so take them if you need them.

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