A number that represents a person’s intelligence, based on the results of a particular type of test.
IQ is an abbreviation of intelligence quotient, which is a noun that refers to a numerical indicator of an individual’s intellectual capacity, determined by an IQ test. The test is conducted as a set of standardized assessments which are developed to analyse verbal, spatial, numerical and logical reasoning.
The abbreviation arose from a German term, ‘Intelligenzquotient’, coined by psychologist William Stern in a book from 1912. There are a number of different version of IQ tests, including the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Due to the abstract nature of intelligence, the results of tests are regarded as estimates, yet are generally considered to be fairly accurate representations of an individual’s intellectual aptitude. The tests are designed to challenge the acuity of a person’s problem-solving abilities and often take the form of calculations, language tests and the ability to solve complex spatial problems.
A thirteen-year-old boy from Canvey Island in Essex has recorded an impressive IQ score of 161, higher than the physicist Stephen Hawking. The threshhold for entry into Mensa International, the non-profit organization and oldest high IQ society, is estimated to be between 132 and 148.
intelligence quotient: a number that represents a person’s intelligence, based on the results of a particular type of test