The Average IQ: What It Is, How It’s Measured, and What It Means

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a measure of an individual’s cognitive abilities. It’s often used as a predictor of academic success, career potential, and overall mental ability.

What is the Average IQ?

The average IQ is typically set at 100, with a standard deviation of 15. This means that about 68% of the population falls between an IQ score of 85 and 115, and about 95% fall between an IQ score of 70 and 130. However, it’s important to note that IQ scores don’t represent the overall intelligence of an individual, as there are many different types of intelligence that aren’t necessarily reflected in IQ tests.

How is IQ Measured?

IQ tests typically measure a range of cognitive abilities, including verbal and nonverbal reasoning, spatial awareness, memory, and processing speed. These tests are designed to provide a standardized measure of individual intelligence, and they’re usually administered by professionals such as psychologists, educators, and occupational therapists.

Some of the most commonly used IQ tests include the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children. These tests usually take between one and three hours to complete, and they typically consist of a series of questions and tasks that require the test-taker to use their cognitive abilities to solve problems or answer questions.

What Factors Influence IQ?

While IQ scores are often considered to be a reflection of overall intelligence, there are many different factors that can influence an individual’s IQ score:

  • Genetics: While the exact extent to which genetics influence IQ is still a matter of debate, research has shown that there is a significant hereditary component to intelligence.
  • Environmental factors: A wide range of environmental factors, such as nutrition, education, and upbringing, can also play a role in shaping an individual’s cognitive abilities.
  • Culture: Different cultures place different values on cognitive abilities, and this can influence the types of skills that are emphasized and developed in different populations.
  • Gender: While research has shown that there are no significant differences in overall IQ scores between men and women, there are some differences in how different genders tend to perform on specific types of IQ tests.

What Does an IQ Score Mean?

An individual’s IQ score can be used to provide some insight into their cognitive abilities and potential for success in certain areas. For example:

  • Academic success: Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between IQ scores and academic achievement, particularly in areas such as math and science.
  • Career potential: Some occupations, such as those in the fields of science, engineering, and technology, tend to attract individuals with higher IQ scores.
  • Mental ability: IQ scores can be used as an indicator of overall mental ability, and they can be useful in diagnosing certain conditions such as intellectual disability and learning disorders.

What Are Some Criticisms of IQ Testing?

While IQ testing is a widely used tool for measuring cognitive abilities, there are some criticisms of the practice:

  • Cultural bias: Some critics argue that IQ tests tend to favor individuals from certain cultural backgrounds, as they may rely heavily on knowledge and skills that are more common in certain populations.
  • Limitations of IQ tests: IQ tests are limited in their ability to provide a comprehensive measure of overall intelligence, as they only measure certain types of cognitive abilities and don’t account for other factors such as emotional intelligence or creativity.
  • Stigma: Some individuals may feel stigmatized or labeled by their IQ score, particularly if they score lower than expected or if their score is seen as a reflection of their overall worth or potential.


IQ testing is a widely used tool for measuring cognitive abilities, and it can provide some valuable insights into an individual’s potential for success in certain areas. However, it’s important to remember that IQ scores are just one measure of intelligence, and that there are many other factors that can influence an individual’s overall cognitive abilities and potential.

Despite the criticisms of IQ testing, it remains a valuable tool for educators, psychologists, and other professionals who work with individuals to help them achieve their full potential and succeed in their chosen fields.


What is considered an average IQ score in Australia?

The average IQ score in Australia is around 100, which is the same as the global average. However, IQ scores can vary depending on factors such as age, education level, and cultural background.

Is having an average IQ score considered good or bad?

Having an average IQ score is considered perfectly normal and not necessarily good or bad. IQ scores only measure a specific type of intelligence, and individuals with average scores can still excel in other areas such as creativity, emotional intelligence, or physical ability.

Can IQ scores change over time?

Research has shown that IQ scores can change over time, with some people experiencing fluctuations of up to 20 points. However, significant changes usually occur due to factors such as environmental influences, brain injury, or changes in educational or occupational opportunities. In general, individual differences in IQ scores tend to stabilize after adolescence.


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