Human Intelligence

Can you increase your IQ score?
Answered by Marshall Brain and Discovery Channel
  • Marshall Brain

    Marshall Brain

  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Marshall Brain Founder, HowStuffWorks.com
    The conventional wisdom says that a person's IQ is a person's IQ. It doesn't really change throughout life and there isn't really a way to increase your score on an IQ test.

    But an IQ test is a test, just like the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) used as a college entrance exam. While an IQ test score doesn't actually have much effect on your life (when was the last time an application asked you to list your IQ?), SAT scores most certainly do have a significant impact. And there are definitely things you can do to improve SAT scores. Therefore, I would like to suggest that there are ways to improve IQ test scores as well. Here are some things to consider, because these things definitely help on SAT tests and other types of tests you encounter in school:

    1) The most important thing you can do the night before the test is make sure you get a good night's sleep. Sleep (and lack thereof) can have a huge effect on mental performance.

    2) An important thing you can do in the months before the test is make sure that you are fit and healthy by eating right and exercising.

    3) Something you can do the year or two before you take the test, especially in the case of the SAT, is to study. If you are going to take a math test next week, you would study, right? You should definitely do the same for the SAT.  For the SAT you should study vocabulary words, study the types of math problems seen on the SAT, study the type of word problems seen on the SAT, practice writing essays, take SAT practice exams, and so on. There are many books and web sites with SAT practice material and study material.  By extension, you could do the same for an IQ test. Take practice IQ tests, study/practice the types of problems seen on IQ tests, etc.

    4) On the morning before the test, consider using a technique called priming. Students who see and write the letter A frequently before a test do better than students who see and write the letter F. That may sound ridiculous, but it has been proven out in scientific studies.

    5) Similarly, glucose can help. If you eat a sweet breakfast or lunch so that there is plenty of glucose flowing through your veins as you take the test, studies have shown that memory recall improves and test scores go up.

    6) While you take the test, consider chewing gum. This falls into the same category as priming (i.e. it sounds ridiculous), but studies show that people who chew gum do better on their tests.

    7) And then there is caffeine, in moderation, because it seems to speed up neuron activity and help with alertness and focus for many people. If you are going to try this, experiment with caffeine on practice tests ahead of time and make sure it works for you. This discussion of caffeine opens up the whole area of performance enhancing brain drugs, which you may also want to research on the Internet.

    More answers from Marshall Brain »

  2. Although research has shown that children may initially score higher on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests if they had balanced diets as infants and high intellectual stimulation in preschool, these factors don't permanently increase IQ scores. Similarly, adult IQ scores don't significantly improve over time. Simply put: We can't just gobble up information and expect our IQ scores to improve. Although some research has found that learning new skills or puzzle solving can boost some cognitive capabilities, such changes are temporary and won't appreciably alter IQ scores.

    More answers from Discovery Channel »



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