How to Measure Intelligence

Intelligence is different from knowledge.

Intelligence tests were originally developed to identify children who might need special education, according to Now they are used to identify gifted children as well, and are often used with adults, for example in hiring. The term Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a measure of mental age vs. chronological age. A score of 100 means you have average intelligence for your age.

1 Intelligence Testing

2 Measure intelligence

You can measure intelligence in mainly two ways, both of which involve tests. Either take a standardized test administered by a professional, or take one of the many online tests. The former are more valid but you or whoever is being tested will probably have to make an appointment to see a psychologist or a school counselor qualified to administer and interpret the test. As of 2008, the most widely accepted test is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), according to

Measure verbal intelligence with the WAIS verbal scales. According to, these measurements include English vocabulary, comprehension, general factual knowledge and common sense, and simple arithmetic. Also measured is spatial intelligence, that is, the ability to visualize and understand concepts. Finally, this part of the WAIS includes a measurement of memory, sometimes called “digit span.” A person is asked to memorize a list of numbers and repeat them back. This element also measures attention and concentration

Measure non-verbal intelligence with WAIS performance scales. These include completing pictures, arranging pictures so they tell a story, creating block designs according to patterns, matching shapes or sets of numbers and assembling puzzles. Puzzles are another measure of visual spatial aptitude. Performance scales also include matrix reasoning and symbol search. Some portions of WAIS testing are measured for speed and some are not.

For children and adolescents, there is only about a 50 percent correlation between intelligence and grades in school, so grades are not a good measurement. Intelligence usually doesn’t change significantly after the age of 16. The Stanford-Binet test is appropriate for ages two and a half to young adult. There are other standardized tests for children such as the Ravens Matrices. According to, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) is most appropriate for people 16 and 17 years of age.

Another way to test for intelligence is to apply to join a high-IQ group that offers its own tests. The oldest and largest of these is MENSA, whose activities are described at Tests can be found at although about the tests, the site says, “They may not be so accurate, but should be very fun and entertaining to do.” Tests are also offered by the International High IQ Society,

  • The results of IQ tests, even if they accurately measure intelligence however you define it, do not predict success in school, work or relationships. According to, there are many types of intelligence that are not measured, such as musical, kinesthetic or body intelligence, interpersonal or emotional intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence and naturalist intelligence.
  • You can take practice tests and possibly improve your IQ, but you can't study for an intelligence test. IQ tests are available in languages besides English, allowing for cultural differences.

Cheryl Card is based in Denver, Colo., and has been writing seriously since 1993. Her specialties are government, health care, human potential and international studies. Card holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Cornell University and a Master of Arts from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She has made numerous contributions to eHow.