Average IQ

Average IQ

Exploring averages of just about anything invites debate and if ever there was a topic to intellectualize and debate exhaustively, it is that of average IQ.

You can always take an IQ test and compare your own score against the average IQ scores of the scores of other folks who’ve taken the same test. The only problem is which test to take. There isn’t just one and they’re all scored differently. A passing grade on one may not project such stellar intellect on another.

A German psychologist named William Stern first proposed the idea of measuring intelligence via a standardized test for children. He wanted to find a means of separating the kids with an average IQ from those with a lesser intellect, who presumably needed more or a different kind of schooling and those with exceptional IQ scores, who presumably needed more, less, or a different kind of schooling.

It wasn’t long before the idea caught on in the adult population, too, and adults were being tested to determine the average IQ of the adults in correlation with that of the children. As one test for children evolved into a test for adults, the criteria changed. So did the scoring.

One change in criteria is the proliferation of tests that became available and which are still being used today, although almost all of them have been modified in one way or another over the years. To make things a bit easier to compare from one test to another, the method for scoring is now frequently linked to the Gaussian bell curve, which values average IQ at 100.

While the Gaussian bell curve lists average IQ at 100, other tests apply standard deviations to that number and formulate a different number that represents average IQ when those particular tests are taken. Some common IQ tests are the Stanford-Binet IQ test, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test (WAIS), and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). These tests require a deviation of 15 to 24 points from the Gaussian bell curve.

Due to the deviations in testing and in scoring them, many experts prefer to use a combined score from three or more tests taken within a short time span to determine a more accurate number. Instead of using one precise number, intellect is measured in a range, with the 80-to-114 range representing average IQ.

Think you might be a genius? You might be. It’ll be somewhat difficult to determine just exactly how smart you are, though. The tests used today are designed to work with the average IQ range, allowing only a little room for stellar performance. There just aren’t enough truly challenging questions included to put you way up there in a range above 140 like there were in the old days. You’ll have to take an older test or apply to some intelligence-based social organization such as Mensa, whose members must score in the top 2% of the list of tests the society accepts.


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