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Intelligence Testing


Before going on to what intelligence testing is, we need to understand what intelligence is. In a developmental view, just as average children grow taller as they get older, they also grow more mentally capable with age. Some are able to perform at age and equivalent-grade levels above their chronological ages (birth age), while there are other children who perform at age and equivalent-grade levels below or higher than their chronological ages. The ability age is called mental age.

The ratio of mental age divided by chronological age was coined as “Intelligence Quotient” (IQ). The intelligence quotient is defined as 100 times the Mental Age (MA) divided by the Chronological Age (CA). With this, a mental age is derived with an average of 100. This means, the average IQ of the population as a whole is, by definition, 100.

So how do we get an IQ score? Intelligence quotient (IQ) is derived using psychometric testing. This is a quantitative and objective approach in viewing the mental ability of an individual, in terms of cut-off points on reliable intelligence tests. 

The following is a rough breakdown of various IQ score ranges. However, bear in mind that it is crucial to remember that IQ tests are only one measure of intelligence. Studies have included other important elements that contribute to intelligence, (e.g., social and emotional factors).

Below 70 - Mental Retardation, Ranging From Mild to Severe

70 to 79 - Borderline Deficiencies

80 to 89 - Below Average Intelligence

90 to 114 - Average Intelligence

115 to 129 - Above average; bright

130 to 144 - Superior

145 to 159 - Highly gifted

160 to 179 - Exceptionally gifted

180 and up - Profoundly gifted

There are many intelligence tests (brief tests and comprehensive tests) available today including online tests. Different tests may measure different cognitive abilities and brief tests usually gives a gauge of intelligence scoring (commonly used for initial screening purposes). The more highly regarded tests used are the comprehensive tests such as The Wechsler Scales and The Stanford-Binet Series. The Wechsler tests are the most common individually administered intelligence tests. Currently used tests include the WISC-IV (age 6-16 years), the WAIS-IV (age 16-89 years), and the WPPSI-III (age 2.5 - 7 years). A brief version of the test exists as well; The Wechsler’s Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), a brief test that can be used for initial screening. The Stanford-Binet was the first test to use the concept of intelligence. It is now in its 5th edition and reports intelligence as four scores: Verbal Reasoning, Abstract/Visual, Quantitative, and Short-term Memory.

Most intelligence tests consist of subtests measuring various qualities, such as factual knowledge, short-term memory, abstract reasoning, visual-spatial abilities, and common sense. Intelligence is always measured relative to a particular culture. Therefore it is hard to imagine a test being culture-free. Although these tests do a good job of predicting academic success, they do not measure interpersonal skill or creativity.