Have you ever wondered how to test your IQ—or how to take an IQ test? And what does an IQ score indicate, anyway?
“We need to understand how our minds work,” explains Jim Kwik, a brain performance coach and the trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest. And when you’re able to do so, you can work your minds better.
How is IQ tested?
IQ (intelligence quotient) is typically tested through a series of standardized tests that are designed to measure your cognitive abilities.
Here’s a general overview of how IQ is tested:
- IQ test selection. There are many standardized IQ tests to choose from, with the most classic (offline) tests being Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, and the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. You should choose your test based on factors such as your age, your purpose, and the time you have to take it.
- Administration. IQ tests can be administered by trained professionals in a controlled environment or taken online by yourself. In the first case, the professional will ensure that you’ve understood all the instructions and guidelines.
- Test sections. An IQ test typically consists of multiple sections or subtests. Each section is designed to assess different cognitive abilities. The more common ones are verbal reasoning, mathematical abilities, spatial reasoning, and memory.
- Scoring. After completing each section, your responses are scored. Most tests provide a raw score for each section, which is then converted into a standardized IQ score.
- Standardization. Most IQ tests have an average IQ score of 100. So, for example, a score of 115 would be above average, while a score of 85 would be below average. Keep in mind that there’s also a standard deviation of about 15 points, depending on the test.
It’s essential to interpret IQ scores carefully. Remember that they’re just one measure of your cognitive abilities and should not be used in isolation to make any significant decisions about yourself.
How to test your IQ accurately
To test your IQ as accurately as possible, you need to take a few things into consideration to ensure reliable results:
- Select a valid IQ test. Choose a reputable IQ test—one that has been standardized and validated.
- Test environment. If you do it online at home, find a quiet place with no distractions.
- Set aside ample time. Put it on your schedule for when it makes the most sense for you.
- Follow instructions. Understanding the rules and guidelines is crucial for the test’s accuracy.
- No external help. The purpose of an IQ test is to measure your individual cognitive abilities. So make sure that you don’t use any external resources or help during the test.
- Time management. Most IQ tests have a time limit for each section or question, so manage your time wisely.
- Honest effort. Put forth your best and most honest effort; guessing or randomly selecting answers may not provide accurate results.
- Score the test. If the test is on a computer, the scoring will typically be automated. If it’s a paper-based test, the provider will give you the necessary instructions for scoring.
- Consult with professionals. If you are taking an IQ test for a specific purpose, such as educational placement or clinical assessment, consult with professionals in the relevant field to ensure that the results are interpreted correctly.
If, upon completing the test, you believe that external factors affected your performance, consider taking the test again sometime in the future.
What to Expect on an IQ Test
Most IQ tests use multiple-choice questions, assessing your ability to solve problems and make logical decisions. The most common categories of these tasks are:
- Mathematical, which assesses your numerical and quantitative reasoning skills. Questions may involve arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and mathematical patterns.
- Logical reasoning measures your ability to analyze and solve problems logically. They can include identifying patterns, solving puzzles, and completing sequences.
- Working memory evaluates your capacity to temporarily hold and manipulate information in your mind, like recalling lists of numbers or words.
- Visual-spatial reasoning focuses on your ability to perceive and manipulate visual information, including recognizing patterns, shapes, and spatial relationships.
- Abstract reasoning is your ability to analyze and reason with abstract concepts and ideas, like non-verbal patterns, sequences, or symbols.
- General knowledge includes questions to assess your understanding of a broad range of topics.
- Attention and concentration measure your ability to focus and sustain attention on specific tasks. Tasks may involve detecting patterns, symbols, or numbers within distractions.
- Perceptual speed assesses your ability to quickly process visual or auditory information and make rapid judgments or decisions.
- Pattern recognition involves identifying and extending visual or auditory patterns, sequences, or relationships.
- Inductive reasoning requires you to make logical inferences based on observed patterns or relationships.
- Deductive reasoning tests how good you are at drawing specific conclusions from general principles or premises.
- Verbal evaluates your language-related skills, such as vocabulary, analogical reasoning, sentence completion, and reading comprehension.
- Social intelligence assesses your ability to understand and interpret social cues, emotions, and interpersonal relationships.
The more extensive an IQ test, the more of the above tasks are going to be included.
How long does it take to take an IQ test?
The duration of an IQ test can vary depending on several factors, including the number of sections and questions and your own speed as well.
That said, most IQ tests belong to one of these three categories:
- Short online tests. These may take as little as 20-30 minutes to complete. These are typically simplified assessments and will not provide a comprehensive measure of your intelligence.
- Standard IQ tests. These usually take a bit longer—between 45 and 90 minutes—to complete. These tests include multiple sections that assess a wider range of cognitive abilities.
- Comprehensive IQ tests. These may require two hours or more to take, and sometimes you will need multiple sessions to complete one such test.
So, next time you are going to choose an IQ test, decide how much time you are looking to spend on it and how accurate you want the test to be. If it’s just out of curiosity, it’s okay to take a short online test.
However, for educational placement or clinical assessment purposes, a standard or comprehensive IQ test is usually suggested. You can determine which one is best for you with the help of a professional.“Knowledge is power.” You hear it all the time, but knowledge is not power. It's only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it. — @jimkwik Click To Tweet
How to Take an Accurate IQ Test
Although there are many IQ tests that claim to be accurate, if you’re interested in obtaining a precise assessment of your IQ, then you should take an IQ test developed and administered by a trained psychologist or a licensed professional.
Especially when it comes to free online IQ tests, there is no real guarantee of their validity, as they may lack standardization and scientific rigor.
That said, these kinds of IQ tests are the best way to give you a glimpse into IQ testing and cognitive assessment. They are readily available for free and require minimal effort and commitment on your part.
How to test your IQ for free
If you’re looking for a free IQ test, here are the most popular places online to take one:
- IQTest.com gives you a real IQ score in just minutes. You can also get an extensive analysis of your score, reporting your performance in 13 different areas of intelligence.
- Free-IQTest.net has 20 questions that will measure your IQ score accurately. After the test, you will also have to give your birth date since the test calculates your IQ score based on your age.
- Test-Guide.com features realistic IQ test questions and instant results after completion. Test explanations are also included so you can see why an answer was correct or not.
- Genius Tests has two free IQ tests: a full quiz with 50 questions with a 12-minute time limit and a quick quiz.
While free online IQ tests can be fun and provide some insight into your cognitive abilities, if you need to take it a step further, consider taking a standard or comprehensive IQ test.
How to Know Your IQ Without a Test
Are you curious about your IQ but prefer to avoid formal testing? It seems you’re in good company—many people are interested in understanding their intelligence without undergoing a traditional IQ test.
While it’s impossible to receive an official score without standardized testing, exploring the different theories of intelligence can provide insights into your cognitive abilities.
So here are some informal approaches to help you get a sense of your intelligence:
- Educational achievement. Have you taken part in an SAT or ACT test? Although academic tests don’t determine an IQ score, a high score on these tests can be an indicator of above-average cognitive abilities.
- Intellectual activities. Are you playing games or solving puzzles in your spare time? How well you perform in these types of activities can give you some insight into your cognitive skills.
- Feedback from educational or work settings. If you’ve received feedback on your intellectual abilities in educational or work settings, consider these assessments. Teachers, professors, employers, or colleagues may have provided useful insights into your cognitive strengths.
- Compare with others. Observe how you perform on tasks compared to others around you. When you engage in these friendly brain showdowns, you may just get a glimpse of your cognitive strengths and superpowers. Maybe you’re the Einstein of wordplay or the Sherlock Holmes of logical reasoning.
- Self-reflection. Think back on the moments when you faced a complicated problem. How easy was it to solve it? How often do you save the day with your clever solutions? Or when it comes to learning, how fast do you learn new information?
Although there is no harm in trying to find out how smart you are without an IQ test, you’d be better off not taking your observations and results too seriously.
It’s a natural part of being human to sometimes make mistakes in judgment, including when it comes to self-assessment. This is a common experience that many people can relate to.
Tap into Your Inner Genius
While IQ tests offer a way to measure a certain kind of intelligence, they don’t capture the full potential of your brain.
Considering this, perhaps the more pertinent question isn’t just how smart you are now, but how are you expanding your intellect and the heights it can reach?If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them. — @jimkwik Click To Tweet
If you’re curious about tapping into the untapped potential of your mind, Mindvalley’s FREE Superbrain Masterclass could be a great fit for you.
The Masterclass was created by Jim Kwik, who at one point in his life was known as “the boy with the broken brain”, after an accident at just five years old. But he took the matter into his own hands.
“A light went off. I just started to understand things for the first time. I started to absorb information. It’s like I had just activated my super brain. But why did I have to suffer all of these years? Why don’t they teach us this in school?”
Now, through his Masterclass, Jim teaches what he wished to have been taught:
- The big lie you were told about your brain,
- how to get a competitive edge in your industry,
- how to rapidly clear your “mental fog,” and
- many more hacks and techniques for your brain.
But why stop here? See what some of the students have to share about their experiences:
- “I have learned so much; my memory got better; my morning routine got more structure.” — Milica Lazovic, opera singer; Trieste, Italy
- “Thanks to this program, I can now learn all the subjects and languages I always wanted to learn.” — Marine Gouffon, travel agent; Lausanne, Switzerland
This Masterclass is your first step toward a “super brain.” And you don’t need any special skills to start—just bring yourself.
Images generated on Midjourney.