Formally referred to as “intellectual quotient”
tests, IQ tests come in many forms. They can help diagnose intellectual
disabilities or measure someone’s intellectual potential. If you’re considering IQ testing, your doctor is your
first point of contact.
History of IQ Testing
French psychologist Alfred Binet created the first
intelligence test in the early 1900s. However, modern IQ testing in the United States
stems from the work of Henry Herbert Goddard. Goddard was a psychologist who
earned his doctorate in psychology from Clark University in 1899. He translated
the Binet test from French to English. This test was used to test basic
intellectual functions in U.S. school children and to support mental health
Goddard remains a controversial figure in the
history of psychology. This is due to his argument that adults with low IQs shouldn’t
procreate. Thankfully, society has largely moved on from such viewpoints.
Today, there are numerous IQ tests that are used for different purposes, but most
are used to help diagnose learning disabilities.
Types of IQ Tests
Since Goddard’s controversial Binet tests,
psychologists have worked to develop numerous other tests. Most are intended
for elementary school-aged children, but some may be used for adults.
The most common types of IQ tests are:
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
- Universal Nonverbal Intelligence
- Differential Ability Scales
- Peabody Individual Achievement Test
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
- Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive
Results of an IQ Test
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 85 percent of intellectually disabled children receive IQ scores
between 55 and 70. A score of 100 is considered average.
A high IQ score, over 100, is typically associated
with high intelligence. Extreme intelligence is 130 or above. Still, these
outcomes are stereotypical. A high score usually means the person has a lot of potential, not that they’re particularly
who scores below 100 is considered to have “below average”
intelligence. Extremely low scores, below 70, are usually a cause for concern.
They may indicate an underlying learning disability.
An IQ test may be the first step in diagnosing
intellectual issues. If your child has a particularly low score, their doctor
may also order:
- adaptive skills screening
- blood tests
- brain ultrasound
- full mental health screening
Prenatal screenings may help detect potential
intellectual disabilities before babies are born. This is especially the case for
mothers who are 35 or older, or those who have used drugs or alcohol during
pregnancy. If potential issues are detected at this time, your pediatrician may
follow up with an IQ test in early childhood.
How to Get an IQ Test
IQ scores are just one piece of the puzzle. These
tests still remain inaccessible to many families. Not all public schools use
them. Some families may not have access to a doctor or psychologist who can administer
the test. This can lead to missed opportunities for crucial testing — especially
during a child’s early years when treatment is vital.
Online IQ tests are available, but you shouldn’t rely
on them for a medical diagnosis. If you suspect an intellectual disability in a
loved one, don’t wait for your doctor to offer a test. Seek out your options
for early testing.
What’s the Bottom Line?
IQ testing is just one way to measure someone’s
intelligence. When diagnosing an intellectual disability, your doctor will rely
on additional tests and observations. IQ tests should certainly not be
discounted, but it’s important not to rely on them as the sole measure of