Testing your IQ can be an interesting way to measure your cognitive abilities and see how you compare to others. While official IQ tests usually cost money, there are a number of free online tests available that can give you an idea of your IQ score. However, it‘s important to understand the limitations of these free tests before putting too much stock in the results.
What is IQ?
IQ stands for "intelligence quotient" and is a score derived from standardized tests designed to measure human intelligence and cognitive abilities. The first modern IQ test was developed over 100 years ago and was initially used to assess intelligence in children.
Today, IQ tests evaluate a variety of skills including:
- Verbal comprehension
- Perceptual reasoning
- Working memory
- Processing speed
Scores are calculated by comparing your performance on the test to the performance of others in your age group. The average IQ is 100, with most people scoring between 85 and 115. Only about 2% of people have scores over 130, which is considered gifted.
While IQ tests measure certain cognitive skills, they are controversial in how accurately they capture overall intelligence. Factors like education, motivation, culture, testing biases and emotional state can impact performance. Still, IQ tests can provide some insight into certain abilities.
Free Online IQ Tests
There are a number of free IQ tests available online that you can take to get an estimate of your IQ score. Here are some of the more popular options:
One of the most well-known free IQ tests, this quiz has 20 questions that assess verbal, mathematical and logical reasoning abilities. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. You‘ll get an estimated IQ score, the time it took you to finish the test and a rating like "highly gifted."
This 30 minute test covers questions on sequencing, pattern recognition and analogies. You‘ll get a score out of 200 and an IQ ranking like "moderately gifted."
Free IQ Test by IQTest.com
A 15 minute test with 25 questions measuring verbal, spatial and mathematical reasoning. You‘ll get an estimated IQ score between 40 and 140.
Tickle IQ Test
A 10-15 minute test with 28 verbal, mathematical and logical questions. Gives you an estimated IQ score and percentile ranking.
A quick 10 minute test with 20 questions. Gives you an estimated IQ score and classification like "superior intelligence."
IQ Test Labs
A free timed test with 50 questions covering math, verbal skills and spatial reasoning. Estimates your IQ and percentile rank compared to others.
Limitations of Free Online IQ Tests
While free online IQ tests can give you a rough idea of where your cognitive abilities stand compared to others, they have significant limitations you should keep in mind:
Not standardized or validated – These tests are not scientifically validated and standardized like professionally administered IQ tests. The questions may not accurately measure abilities across different populations.
Self-administered – Since you take them without a test administrator, conditions like time limits, cheating and effort level can affect scores.
May have biases – Questions may contain cultural biases that disadvantage people with diverse backgrounds.
Motivation affects performance – Your effort and motivation impacts test performance, which can vary each time you take a test.
Scoring algorithms unclear – How the final scores and IQ ratings are calculated is usually undisclosed and may be arbitrary.
For entertainment purposes only – The creators of free tests often warn their results should be used for "entertainment purposes only."
For these reasons, professionals advise not putting too much stock in the results of free online IQ tests. They are not as scientifically valid as proctored, standardized IQ tests administered by a psychologist or neuropsychologist. Treat them as engaging brain teases rather than definitive measures of intelligence.
Best Uses for Free IQ Tests
While the results may not be completely accurate, free IQ tests can still be useful in the following ways:
- Getting a general idea of your cognitive strengths and weaknesses
- Comparing your speed of thinking and problem solving to others
- Measuring improvements after practicing cognitive skill-building exercises
- Identifying areas you can work on like math, verbal or spatial reasoning
- Satisfying curiosity about how you match up against your peers
- Entertaining brain exercise and a way to challenge yourself
Just avoid reading too much into your exact IQ score from free tests. Use them as engaging brain teasers and a starting point for identifying personal areas of improvement.
Professional IQ Testing
If you‘re interested in a more scientific assessment of intelligence for academic placement, diagnosis or career guidance, you‘ll want to take a professionally-administered IQ test. Some of the most valid and reliable IQ tests include:
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) – For those 16 and older, covers verbal, math, memory and processing speed.
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales – Assesses verbal and nonverbal skills. Given to those 2 to 85+ years old.
Raven‘s Progressive Matrices – A nonverbal test using visual pattern matching puzzles. Often used for gifted testing.
Cognitive Assessment System (CAS) – A battery of 12 tests measuring planning, attention, memory, math and spatial skills.
Woodcock-Johnson IV – Covers cognitive abilities, math and verbal skills, academic knowledge and fluency.
These tests are administered in-person by a psychologist, psychiatrist or neuropsychologist and usually take 1-3 hours to complete. They provide professionally calculated IQ scores and detailed interpretations of strengths and weaknesses across cognitive skills.
Expect to pay $200-$500+ for comprehensive IQ testing, which is usually not covered by insurance unless testing is required for medical treatment.
Interpreting IQ Scores
Once you receive your estimated IQ from a free test or professional assessment, you may be wondering how your score compares:
|Under 70||Extremely low|
However, IQ categorizations are somewhat arbitrary and should be considered rough guidelines. Focus more on your personal strengths and areas for improvement highlighted in the test results.
IQ scores are on a normal distribution with most people clustered around the average of 100. Only about 2% of the population scores higher than 130. An IQ of 140-160 is considered highly gifted. Scores above 175 are exceptionally rare.
But having a high IQ does not necessarily guarantee career success and excellence. Factors like motivation, determination, education quality and emotional intelligence also play important roles in achievement.
Can You Improve Your IQ?
IQ has historically been viewed as fixed throughout life. But emerging research suggests IQ levels can improve to some degree through consistent mental stimulation and learning new challenging skills.
Some activities that may boost IQ scores include:
- Learning a new language
- Playing chess
- Reading challenging books
- Playing brain training video games
- Taking engaging online courses
- Practicing mindful meditation
- Learning to play a musical instrument
Deliberately practicing cognitive skills outside your comfort zone seems to promote beneficial structural brain changes through neuroplasticity. Just don‘t expect dramatic IQ boosts. Focus more on the enjoyment and rewards of lifelong learning.
Free online IQ tests can provide a rough estimate of your intelligence level and be an interesting way to assess your cognitive strengths. However, their results should be taken with a grain of salt due to limitations around standardization and administration.
For more valid results, consider seeking comprehensive IQ testing from a licensed psychologist. But don‘t obsess over your specific scores – the main value is learning about your cognitive abilities and finding new skills to develop at any age.