What are classic IQ tests and why are they Important?

The development of classic IQ tests was based on an understanding of the difference between knowledge and intelligence in early 20th century. The psychological studies had revealed that equating intelligence with knowledge is not true. Here I want to help you understand what classic IQ tests are comprised of.

“Can my IQ play any role in my life,” you may ask. In this article, I shall also try to explain the role that your intelligence can play a role in your life besides your knowledge and degrees.

How can you measure Intelligence?

The mistake many people make is to confuse intelligence with having a good memory. The latter tends to equate to being smart. As an example, knowing the Periodic table from top to bottom does not mean you are intelligent. It does, however, say you are probably smart. However, being able to work out how to transfer one beaker of water to another glass without touching either requires intelligence.


You might have done this exercise before. However, you should have sufficient experience in chemistry to know when boiled; water evaporates in the form of steam. If you collect that steam and cool it, it will condense back into liquid. You can deliver that water to other containers too. IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient, and this chemistry example shows you how intelligence allows you to apply knowledge to anticipate an outcome or result.

Sir Francis Galton developed the first generation of IQ tests in 1915. Binet and Symon further developed them. The idea behind the early traditional IQ tests was to create a system where age became relevant. The desire was to measure the IQ of someone aged fourteen using the same questions you would use to measure the IQ of someone 40 years old.

class iq tests

The classic IQ test is based on how well you do compare to other people of the same age as you. It means that although you may answer fewer questions correctly as someone aged 40, your IQ can still be higher than other test takers. The traditional IQ test follows your ability to apply previously acquired knowledge and past experiences.

In simple terms, consider someone aged 14 who answers fewer questions correctly in a traditional IQ test than someone aged 40. Who do you think has the higher IQ? Well, that answer will depend on what the average number of correct answers given for people in each age range is. It may be that the 14-year-old answers five more questions than the average student usually manages. The 40-year-old man answers five questions less than the average for 40-year-old people. 

That should tell you that the 14-year-old student has a higher IQ than the 40-year-old person. It is because they answered more questions than their peers did by comparison. The fact the student responded fewer items than the 40-year-old man is irrelevant.

What classic IQ tests measure?

In the more traditional style of IQ test, you can face up to six sections covering different knowledge areas. Initially, it is logical reasoning.  It is a series of questions asking you to work out a potential result or outcome of a situation. The next part of the test can include Language Ability. It isn’t about whether you can speak French, German or Chinese, no! It is about the English language and that you can deduce answers based on your knowledge and understanding of the English language.

Math or maths skills will often form an essential part of a traditional IQ test. It won’t be in the form of equations or algebraic questions. It will include straightforward skills including your ability to recognize mathematical sequences. Problem-solving is also a crucial part of traditional IQ tests. Once again, solving a problem doesn’t involve factual knowledge but understanding. You need to know how to adapt your thought processes to solve a problem.

Spatial relations skills will also be examined in a traditional IQ test. These skills relate to your ability to recognize spaces between objects. Additionally, it can include such things as where your set in a classroom is. Spatial relations skills need to be good if you are to excel at ball games. Often a lack of spatial skills can be misinterpreted as having a lack of coordination.

Finally, there are questions covering knowledge that you have retained during your life. It isn’t necessarily fact-based knowledge but more experience-based knowledge. Much of the content in a traditional IQ test relates to using past experiences. This experience is used to calculate likely solutions to questions.

There are two interesting facts you may not know about classic IQ tests. Firstly, there is no time limit. An instrument usually takes an hour to complete, but that is just a guide. Secondly, you are allowed to use a calculator when doing the test!

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