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You’ve probably heard the term “IQ” before. But what does it mean? IQ stands for “Intelligence Quotient.” It’s a score that shows how smart a person is compared to others of their age. But is IQ fixed? Can people with low IQs get smarter? How can you increase your IQ?
IQ is a score that represents how smart someone is compared to others their age. It’s calculated by taking a person’s mental age (how old they are mentally) and dividing it by their actual age in years and then multiplying that number by 100.
For instance, if a 5-year-old had an IQ of 200, it would be because their mental age was 10 (10/5 x 100). Some tests also measure this score against others in a similar age bracket to standardize the score. This is when you hear whether someone has an above or below-average IQ (1).
However, it’s important to remember that IQ tests aren’t perfect. They don’t necessarily measure all forms of intelligence (2). This could be having a talent such as a gifted artist or a beautiful singing voice. Street smarts are also not measured.
Street smarts could also be described as common sense and are often lacking in those with a so-called high intelligence (3).
Life is all about survival of the fittest, and sometimes those with street smarts often do better than their intelligent counterparts.
A study carried out on twins shows that IQ is determined by genetics. However, they also found that it needed to be clarified if the same genes had influence over school grades (4).
This could explain why the two siblings differ so much. Same parents, same genes, same intelligence, but one has book smarts, and the other has street smarts.
Now that we know what IQ is, you’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can do to make yourself smarter. Well, the answer needs to be clarified-cut. Some experts say IQ is mainly determined by genetics, so it’s impossible to increase your score significantly.
However, others believe that with the right environment and opportunities, people of all ages can become smarter over time (5).
The best way to check whether it is possible to increase your IQ is to do one of the tests available online now, follow some of the ideas in this article, then test yourself again.
If you search online for “How can I test my IQ,” there are many suggestions. However, Mensa is among the most trusted, especially in the UK (6).
Remember that you are relying on brain power alone when doing these tests. This is because you will be doing psychometric tests and not anything you can search online for the answer. That might scupper a few people!!
So, How do you go about trying to increase your IQ? Here are a few suggestions.
Increase your IQ by Doing Jigsaw Puzzles
This is a very simplistic solution to improving your IQ. However, when doing a jigsaw puzzle, you involve your memory, shape, and spatial awareness (7). Doing a jigsaw puzzle can also relax and lower stress, which helps boost your brainpower, as stress and anxiety are two of the most widespread conditions linked to brain shrinkage and cognitive degeneration (8 and 9).
Play Online Brain-Training Games
There are several online games or apps that can be downloaded onto your smartphone. These games involve memory games, matching shapes or colors, language, and distance skills. Working memory and IQ are strongly linked (10), which is why playing memory games can help. A study was carried out on children to see if brain training improved working memory. The children participated in brain training activities for approximately half an hour a day for at least twenty days over a thirty-day period. The study’s outcome was that the children’s working memory improved (11).
Play Scrabble and Other Word Games
Playing a game of Scrabble is a fun way to increase your IQ and boost your well-being at the same time. Playing Scrabble is an executive control activity because it is linked to reasoning, which is a component of our intelligence (12). Executive control functions include working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. Playing games such as Scrabble, Pictionary, Jenga, Chess, and Sudoku involves one or more functions (13).
On top of that, playing a game of Scrabble helps you learn new words, improve your concentration and focus, and improve your communication skills, all of which play a part in your IQ. Another great thing about playing board games is that we socialize (14) and have fun (15), which are great for our brains as these activities protect our brains from further damage and loss of function.
Learn a New Language
Learning a new language is a great way to increase your IQ. This is because it increases the size of the brain through neuroplasticity (16).
Neuroplasticity is the growth of new neurons that make up the grey matter in the brain. Grey matter enables us to have emotions and memory and control how we move (17).
People with higher IQs have more grey matter than others (18). However, do not expect this change to happen quickly. A study was conducted on people who learned a new language for under three months. They were tested at the beginning and end of the learning period, but their IQ scores did not show any improvement (19).
Having said that, another study found that the younger children are when they start to learn a second language, the higher their IQs will be when they are older. The ideal age to start learning the language is eighteen months and two years (20).
One reason is that children’s brains are much more efficient at creating new neural pathways (neuroplasticity) than adults’ (21).
Every Day is a School Day
Continuing to learn or be educated has been shown to increase IQ by up to five points for every full year of learning (22).
This can take the form of formal education, such as staying on after school to go to college and university. Alternatively, you can study at home.
However, one of the best ways to educate yourself and increase your IQ at the same time is to read. Reading as many books as you can get your hands on will increase your vocabulary and, in turn, your verbal IQ.
Having a larger bank of words to draw will help you in all aspects of life where communication is important. You will be able to confidently express your views, opinions, and knowledge (23).
In addition, reading textbooks rather than storybooks will increase your knowledge of all subjects.
Finally, as with learning a language, teaching a child to read as soon as possible, and starting by reading aloud to them when they are very young, all play a part in boosting their IQ as they grow older (24).
If increasing your IQ is important to you, you now know what to do in order to boost your IQ score. Some of these tips may seem simple, but try some out and see for yourself as suggested. Just don’t expect things to change overnight.
Boosting your brain power needs to be done consistently, potentially for the rest of your life. Everyone has the potential to get smarter over time—it just takes some effort!
- What’s the Average IQ? https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-average-iq-2795284
- What IQ Tests Test http://www.swisswuff.ch/files/richardson2002whatiqteststest.pdf
- Clever sillies: why high IQ people tend to be deficient in common sense https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19733444/
- Genes don’t just influence your IQ—they determine how well you do in school https://www.science.org/content/article/genes-dont-just-influence-your-iq-they-determine-how-well-you-do-school
- Verbal and non-verbal intelligence changes in the teenage brain https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10514
- Jigsaw Puzzles As Cognitive Enrichment (PACE) – the effect of solving jigsaw puzzles on global visuospatial cognition in adults 50 years of age and older: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5588550/
- 6 Ways Stress Affects Your Brain https://premierneurologycenter.com/blog/6-ways-stress-affects-your-brain/
- Can anxiety damage the brain? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26651008/
- The role of prefrontal cortex in working-memory capacity, executive attention, and general fluid intelligence: An individual-differences perspective https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/BF03196323
- Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children http://jtoomim.org/brain-training/holmes2009-sustained-enhancement-of-wm-in-children.pdf
- Fluid intelligence and executive functioning more alike than different? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26281913/
- Executive Function & Self-Regulation https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function/
- Socialization and Altruistic Acts as Stress Relief https://www.mentalhelp.net/stress/socialization-and-altruistic-acts-as-stress-relief/
- Laughter is the Best Medicine https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
- Neuroplasticity as a function of second language learning: Anatomical changes in the human brain https://hmlfunctionalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/language.pdf
- Neuroanatomy, Gray Matter https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553239/
- Grey matter matters for intellect https://www.nature.com/articles/news040719-11
- Foreign language learning in older age does not improve memory or intelligence: Evidence from a randomized controlled study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32011156/
- Language Experience in the Second Year of Life Predicts Language Outcomes in Late Childhood https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6192025/
- Why Children Learn Faster than Adults and How You Can Learn Their Tricks https://irisreading.com/why-children-learn-faster-than-adults-and-how-you-can-learn-their-tricks/
- How Much Does Education Improve Intelligence? A Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088505/
- The influence of reading ability on subsequent changes in verbal IQ in the teenage years https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1878929313000406
- Reading Aloud and Child Development: A Cluster-Randomized Trial in Brazil https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744270/