Study Shows IQ Does Not Measure Intellectual Capacity

There are two theories about what an IQ test actually measures. One is that your IQ score shows your intellectual capacity, which is something that is set in stone. The other theory is that an IQ test is an achievement test which can change over time and is determinate of your studies and information gathering abilities.

In a new study, 33 adolescents between 12 and 16 years old were given an IQ test once, and then given it again four years later. The study had surprising results. Some teens improved their scores up to 20 points higher on the standardized IQ scale, while others’ scores plummeted almost as much.

“…We had individuals that changed from being on the 50th percentile, with an IQ of 100, [all] the way up to being in the (top) 3rd percentile, with an IQ of 127,” said researcher Cathy Price.

Not only that, using brain scans researchers found the students’ brains had actually changed in accordance to where they had made gains in certain subjects of the IQ test.

What can this study mean to educators and parents? An IQ score, high or low, may not be as reliable or constant as they believe. A students’ IQ is representative of their natural born intellect, but it is also swayed by educational and home environment, personality, and work ethic.

If students are receiving low IQ scores, this study suggests it may not be determinate of their intellectual capacity. How can you change your attitude about low IQ scores? How can you take a low IQ score as a challenge to help a student reach their true potential? How can you encourage those earning high IQ scores to retain their intellect?


“IQ Isn’t Set In Stone, Suggests Study That Finds Big Jumps, Dips In Teens,” by Allison Aubrey. 19 October 2011. NPR. 20 October 2011. <>

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