The Lowest IQ Ever — And Why It Can Still Mean Greatness

The Lowest IQ Ever — And Why It Can Still Mean Greatness


When it comes to IQ, higher scores will often get the limelight. But do you know about the other side, like the lowest IQ score ever? Here are the basics.

Elon Musk, Marilyn vos Savant, Albert Einstein, and so many more are often celebrated for their high IQ. Even those kids on the TV show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader can make most of us question our intelligence.

But what about the other side of the IQ spectrum? And have you ever wondered what the lowest IQ ever recorded is?  We’ve got you covered. Let’s deep dive into the following:

What’s Measured on an IQ Test?

An IQ (meaning ‘intelligence quotient’) is a numerical score coined by the psychologist William Stern in 1912. According to Mensa International, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world, IQ “indicates how far above, or how far below, his/her peer group an individual stands in mental ability.

But is intelligence based on just one factor or are there several aspects to it? 

Many scientists have suggested there are many types of intelligence. However, one scientist, Charles Spearman suggests there’s one dominant general intelligence factor, or the ‘g factor.’ This is what’s primarily measured on IQ tests.

Standardized cognitive tests give us an individual’s IQ, or intelligence quotient, score. It gauges how well an individual can use information and logic to make predictions or answer questions.

Young man writing while wearing headphones, lowest iq ever

What do IQ tests measure?

Today’s IQ tests measure an adult’s intelligence based on these index scales:

  • Verbal reasoning: How a person processes words, assesses them, and applies them.
  • Perceptual reasoning: A person’s ability to assess visual details, identify details between similar images, and so on.
  • Working memory: A person’s ability to register, maintain, recall, and manipulate information visually and auditorily in a short period of time.
  • Processing speed: How quickly a person can process new information.

It’s also best to keep in mind that IQ tests are relative tests, not absolute ones. In a nutshell, it doesn’t measure intelligence the way a ruler measures height, but rather the way a race measures speed. 

What are the IQ ranges?

Although there are a number of intelligence tests out there, the one most trusted and widely used is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). And its fourth edition has the following score range:

IQ Range (“deviation IQ”)IQ Classification
130 and aboveVery Superior
120 to 129Superior
110 to 119High Average
90 to 109Average
80 to 89Low Average
70 to 79Borderline
69 and belowExtremely Low

These ranges measure the average IQ score for all ages. So if you’re curious as to where you stand on this intelligence scale, you can take the IQ test to find out.

What Does It Mean to Have a Borderline IQ?

According to experts, borderline IQ (also called borderline intellectual functioning) is someone with an IQ between 70-79 points. And it gets its namesake because it’s on the borderline of criteria for the diagnosis of intellectual disabilities.

Those with IQ scores within or below this range are considered to be cognitively impaired. However, there are studies out there that suggest “recognition and acknowledgment of patients with borderline intellectual functioning and attention to their specific mental health care needs is likely to substantially improve the quality of mental health care for a group of people that comes last too often.

the lowest IQ

What Is the Lowest IQ Ever?

There’s no record of the lowest IQ ever. However, the lowest IQ score possible is zero.

Can someone actually get this low of a score? In theory, yes. But no one in recorded history has officially scored zero on an IQ test, even if that result is theoretically attainable.

Even determining the lowest IQ ever, it’s tricky territory. IQ scores below 75 points are often held by those with some form of mental or cognitive impairment, which typically aren’t asked or required to complete IQ tests.

Who has the lowest IQ in the world?

While those with high IQ scores are often documented, the ones who have low IQ aren’t. So there is no existence of anyone with the lowest IQ in the world.

However, there are interesting stories like this man with a low IQ who’ve made the news. And according to World Population Review, the countries with some of the lowest IQs in 2022 are Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nepal.

President with the lowest IQ

Even presidents aren’t immune to IQ comparisons. In the U.S., it seems that President Ulysses S. Grant takes the claim for the ‘President With the Lowest IQ‘ with a score of 120. Then, comes James Monroe and Warren G. Harding.

With that being said, it’s important to remember that IQ tests only measure a very narrow set of traits. And those who score below the borderline category may have different learning styles or types of thinking.

And regardless of where you fall on the IQ spectrum, anyone with gumption and determination can achieve greatness. For instance, there are those with Down Syndrome who’ve gone on to open their own businesses. Or those who have a low IQ, but a high EQ.

As Jim Kwik, author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest, says, “if you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.

IQ scores

You Were Born for Greatness

Above all, remember this: IQ scores are not indicative of success in today’s world. What matters more is your willingness to learn.

Learning is a superpower. And learning is not a spectator sport.

— Jim Kwik, author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest

With enough study and training, you can raise your IQ score. These numbers aren’t fixed.

Keep in mind that IQ scores only measure a very narrow set of cognitive skills. And we’re only just beginning to understand the true power of the brain through multiple forms of intelligence.

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Written by
Irina Yugay