Can you improve your IQ score with practice?
I’ve tried many ‘free IQ tests’ whilst procrastinating on the internet out of curiosity (and because some of them are quite fun!). I was therefore interested to learn that real IQ tests are widely used by educational and professional organisations to assess applicants. They are also the focus of psychological studies which seek to identify the many factors that influence intelligence.
Due to how important IQ scores are, it is interesting to consider how reliable the tests are they are and what the scores actually mean. Like all tests, it seems reasonable to assume that you could improve your IQ score by practicing the test many times.
Is it possible to improve your IQ score with practice, and what does this mean for the IQ test? We asked 5 experts in intelligence, psychology and behavioural sciences ‘Can you improve your IQ score with practice?’, the answers were mixed - here is what we found out…
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Can you improve your IQ score with practice?
40% affirmative from 5 experts
What is an IQ score?
IQ stands for ‘Intelligence quotient’. It is a standard score that indicates the cognitive ability of an individual relative to the whole population. IQ scores are calculated from IQ tests.
IQ tests have evolved since the term ‘IQ’ was first coined in the early 1900s, and they continue to change now. IQ tests assess different abilities such as learning and retaining information, abstract reasoning, and visual-spatial processing. Although there are many online freely-available ‘IQ tests’, the most reliable results come from official tests that take over an hour and are supervised professionally.
Are people able to improve their IQ score with practice?
The experts were divided as to whether someone could improve their IQ score with practice. Dr Ian Silver, an expert in intelligence and behavioural sciences from Cincinnati University, says that “Most practice modalities, such as phone applications or online courses, will not increase IQ scores or intelligence generally.”
Doing the IQ test many times could improve your score according to Dr Hynek Cigler, an expert in psychology from Masaryk University, who says “Practicing IQ tests will improve scores obtained in such tests as you become a better ‘test-taker’. However, an impact on your actual intelligence will be negligible.”
All of the experts made a clear distinction between IQ score and intelligence.
Interestingly, Dr Cigler highlights that “some ‘kinds’ of intelligence are connected to learning and practicing. Training of such skills could lead to better development, especially at a younger age. Though, this relationship is not straightforward.”
Is IQ a good measure of intelligence?
The experts say that IQ scores could potentially be improved with practice - this implies that IQ tests are pointless. Professor Dimitri Van der Linden from Rotterdam University says this is not the case, “Although it is possible to enhance one’s score by practice, or even cheat, overall the IQ test still remains a good predictor”.
Professor Van der Linden’s opinion reflects that of many experts in psychology. 7 experts answered ‘yes’ to the Metafact question, “Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?”. As well as being predictors of intelligence, IQ scores are good predictors of factors like academic success and income.
Despite this general support for IQ tests, many experts highlighted caveats. One important consideration is that IQ tests do not assess all types of intelligence, for example they do not consider creative, emotional or social intelligence. According to Professor Robert Sternberg, an expert in education and intelligence from Cornell University, “These tests do NOT measure our skills in solving important life problems.”.
The main complication in this area is that there is no one definition of ‘intelligence’. There are many types of intelligence that can be assessed in different ways and may have varying impacts on our ability to succeed in different tasks.
It may be possible to improve your IQ score with practice. Despite this the IQ test remains a good predictor of some types of intelligence such as memory and reasoning.
May the facts be with you!
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