Characteristics of a High IQ

by Rosanne Knorr

Various factors affect your intelligence quotient, or IQ. Standardized tests have been developed that measure IQ and are used to a large extent in education. In addition, scientists and educators often expand the definition of intelligence beyond what can be shown in specific tests. This is considered a multidimensional view of intelligence and is summed up in the Department of Education's statement that "Children and youth with ... remarkably high levels of accomplishment ... exhibit high-performance capability in the intellectual, creative and/ or artistic areas [and] possess an unusual leadership capacity or excel on specific academic fields ...." However high intelligence is rated, these gifted individuals share many characteristics in common.

High Results on Standardized Tests

When people say they have a high IQ, it's often based on the results of a recognized IQ test.The most commonly used are the Wechsler and the Stanford-Binet. The Wechsler is designed to work for the general populace and normally is most accurate for those with an IQ between 70 and 130, considering an "average" as 100. The Stanford-Binet can be used for most people but is often considered better than the Wechsler when it comes to rating those with extremely high intelligence over 130.

Mensa Scores and Membership

Mensa, a group specifically designed for the most highly intelligent, will only accept members whose IQ is rated in the top 2 percent, or around 130. The group rates its IQ testing for adults or children over 10 years of age.

Creativity and Curiosity

Gifted children and adults frequently have a broad range of interests and intellectual curiosity. They ask many, and varied, questions and are able to reason well and logically. In contrast to this broad range of interests is the person known as a savant. Such people display a very specific and highly advanced ability in one main area such as math or music.

Other Considerations

Although most people count the IQ score as a marker for intelligence, not all highly gifted people can be well tested by a traditional IQ test. For example, some have specific skills in art, music, leadership, creativity, language, mathematics or spatial relationships.

Awareness and Stimulation

Those with high intelligence generally need to be mentally stimulated. Ironically, this same trait can also cause them to be aware of the environment to the point that they become more sensitive to stimuli such as noise or crowds and feel overwhelmed in such situations.

Social Differentiation

The image of the gifted "nerd" is a popular image that is not always based in reality since many highly intelligent people are also well socialized. However, it's also true that highly intelligent individuals may feel a social stigma, especially children whose intelligence takes them far beyond their peers. In response, some highly gifted children may deliberately hide their abilities; for example, they may simplify their vocabulary or avoid speaking up in class to become more accepted.

Perfectionists and Underachievers

Society expects more of those judged as highly intelligent and, in some cases, a person's knowledge of his own capabilities may cause him to strive more and become a perfectionist. Ironically, if the need for perfectionism becomes too stressful or if he becomes bored by school or other routines, he may underachieve.

About the Author

Rosanne Knorr is an award-winning writer, editor and author since 1980. She has written feature articles for countless publications and has authored 13 books including "The Grown-Up's Guide to Running Away from Home." She ghostwrites books on financial and lifestyle topics. She has taught creative writing and speaks on writing and travel topics. Knorr holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Photo Credits

  • monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images