What exactly is an IQ test?

 

Your child’s school may have requested that you arrange for an IQ test to be done, possibly along with a fuller educational assessment – most often by an Educational Psychologist.  We usually understand the reason for and content of tests to determine reading, maths and spelling ages, but many parents are unsure of the nature and reason for the ‘IQ’. 

The letters IQ stand for Intelligence Quotient.  The test is the most common method to measure intelligence and its value lies mostly in its ability to predict a child’s chances of school success fairly accurately.  Most school subjects require those mental skills and knowledge that are tested by the items comprising the IQ battery of subtests.

IQ tests are based on statistics and the child’s results will reflect her academic abilities as compared to other children of the same age.

The average IQ score is around 100 but a ‘normal’ or ‘average’ IQ can fall anywhere between the scores of 71 – 129, being further divided into ‘below average’ or ‘above average’ if nearing these scores respectively. The two extremes would be IQ scores of less than 70 and more than 130.  Children falling into these extremes would account for roughly 2.5% each of the entire population of children.  They are described as ‘special needs’ children because on the one hand, having an IQ score of under 70 may suggest that academic success will be difficult to achieve, while an IQ score of over 130 places one in the category of ‘gifted’, meaning that academic potential is extraordinarily high. Children in both these categories need special help with their widely differing educational, social and emotional needs 

Typically, IQ scores can be used to predict future scholastic levels although this type of prediction can be misleading.  Many children cope with high levels of education due to determination and perseverance.  However, for the sake of clarity, here are the widely accepted levels 

IQ over 110: The individual should be capable of a university or other tertiary education

IQ between 90 – 110: Capable of completing secondary education and beyond

IQ between 80 – 89: Capable of completing High School or a technical education

IQ between 70 – 79: May have difficulties in High School

IQ below 70: Needs special education 

IQ tests are conducted by trained psychologists who are qualified to administer these tests. Most IQ tests consist of two broad parts: a subtest which tests verbal skills such as vocabulary and general knowledge and a performance subtest which tests visual, motor and spatial skills.

 tests are believed to be unreliable below the age of six .  Between the ages of 6 – 18, test results are fairly reliable but may fluctuate depending on environmental factors such as exposure to languages (especially the language used to test), learning opportunities and family support.  The average child may have an IQ score that varies by up to 15 points during the ten years or so of schooling.  This is why IQ scores should not be taken too seriously in spite of its importance as a predictor of later scholastic success.

What IQ tests can’t measure

IQ tests can’t determine success in life.  Success depends on a combination of intelligence, social skills, endurance and even a healthy dose of chance or opportunity. An IQ represents only the chances of a child’s achieving in the academic sphere.  It cannot predict or substitute for attitude, motivation and interest. In addition, it can’t test for specific talents such as musical or artistic potential, physical prowess, creative thinking, leadership and social skills.

In short, it can be used as a helpful tool in understanding more about a child’s academic potential but falls far short in defining the essential nature of the child.  We are all far, far more and less than our IQ scores may suggest!

If a child has learning difficulties, an IQ score will almost certainly be required.  The results cannot, however, fully explain the reasons for the challenges he or she experiences at school

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