How Useful Are Online IQ Tests?

People have been measuring intelligence in different ways for centuries. Which one is the most efficient today? Let's find out!
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How Useful Are Online IQ Tests?

In the mid and late 1800s, for example, it was believed that skull size was correlated to brain size, and, you know, the bigger the brain the more intelligent its owner. So, by following the logic of these early phycologists, a simple measurement of the size of the skull would tell you roughly how smart a person was. Since then, scientists have developed much more accurate, sophisticated ways of measuring intelligence.


The modern IQ test was developed in the early 1900s. For those that don’t know, IQ, or intelligence quotient, is found by taking your mental age, dividing it by your actual age, and multiplying by 100. For example, a brilliant person may have the mental age of a 32-year-old at age 24, making their IQ 133, or roughly two standard deviations above average. Finding your mental age is the tricky part of this test, and why it took years to develop.

 

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is found by taking your mental age, dividing it by your actual age, and multiplying by 100.

In addition to mental age, IQ tests are supposed to conform to several statistical averages across populations. The modern test is believed to have a population average of 100 with a standard deviation of 15. If you have taken a statistics class, you’ll know what that means. If you haven’t, it tells us that 68% of a population should have an IQ between 85 and 115.


While the first IQ tests were created over 100 years ago, the methods used by psychologists to measure IQ now are still largely the same. The questions and some of the exact methodology have changed over the years, but the basic principles have remained the same. And with advances in other technology fields, such as the internet and the modern smartphone, these tests have become more accessible than ever before.

Online IQ tests, alongside other things like math tests or math puzzles, are easy to access, which makes them the tool of choice for anyone curious about how intelligent they are. The main problem with online IQ tests is that their accuracy can vary wildly from website to website and test to test. 

 

Some online tests are valid but not reliable, some are reliable but not valid, some are both, and some are neither.

Psychologists insist their studies and methods are valid, meaning they measure what they are intended to, and reliable, meaning scores are consistent across time and no matter who administers the test. Some online tests are valid but not reliable, some are reliable but not valid, some are both, and some are neither.


  • Almost none of these sites use complete IQ tests, which are extremely hard to administer online. Other tests, like the math tests and puzzles, are great, fun ways to test yourself against other people.
  • The bottom line is that some of these tests can be extremely helpful and give you an excellent idea about where you stand as far as intelligence. And if that’s what you are looking for, some websites can be great resources.
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