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What is IQ?

An IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a score you receive on a test that assesses intelligence. When you take an IQ test, you are compared to people who have taken the test before. Prior to the release of the test, the writers of the IQ test had several hundred, sometimes more than a thousand, people assessed.

Calculating the IQ Score

IQ is a comparison of your test results to the results of people your own age. The average IQ is 100. If you gave 1,000 people a really hard test, your results would look like this:

The higher the graph goes, the more people who have achieved that score. As you can see from the graph, there is a bell-shaped distribution. Most people are in the center, but some people score really well, and some people score really poorly. By having the IQ average at 100, scores can go high or low and still make sense because of their relationship to 100.

The different colors of this graph are standard deviations. Standard deviation is a mathematical way of grouping people together. If you look at the red line on 100, the blue group to the right is considered one positive standard deviation. In that blue group is 34.1% of the population. If you combine it with the green group just to the left of the red line, you have everything within one standard deviation of the average (average is 100), or 68.2% of the population. Remember, one standard deviation= 34.1%, by combining both above and below the standard deviation you get 68.2%. Standard deviations allow for easy groupings and predictions.

What does all this mean? A standard deviation in IQ points is 15, so 68.2% of the population will have scores between 85 and 115. This is labeled an average IQ, which is just a name for a group of people scoring around the average score. This name for a group helps make it easier to group test takers together.

About 95.4% of the population will have an IQ score between 70 and 130, which is everyone within two standard deviations. Scores that are between 70 and 85 may be labeled below average, while scores between 115 and 130 could be labeled above average.

Types of IQ Tests

Multiple tests have been created to test for IQ, and there is general agreement on the scores provided by each one. However, on some tests, certain people will do better and on other tests, certain people will do worse. Here are some common tests, as listed by Indiana University.

The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition, for ages 2-90+: Is a full-scale test that also covers fluid reasoning, quantitative reasoning, knowledge, visual-spatial processing, and working. In addition, the test compares verbal to nonverbal abilities.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition, for ages 6-16: Provides a full- scale assessment and also assesses working memory, verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, and processing speed. It is extremely similar to the WAIS but is made for children.

The Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities, for ages 2-90+: Measures a large age group's general intellectual ability in addition to working memory and execution function.

The Cognitive Assessment System for ages, 5-17: Takes a more theoretical approach, measuring planning abilities, attention span, and simultaneous and successive cognitive processes.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), for ages 16-89: Is an IQ test designed for those using adult thinking, which provides a full-scale score and scores for verbal, processing speed, perceptual, and working memory.

The Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence, for ages 6-18. Uses a nonverbal method to assess children without traditional biases found with language barriers. Six subtests assess various nonverbal intellectual skills.

The Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test, for ages 5-17. Uses a similar tactic as the previous test in that it does not use verbal commands or answers, instead using an entirely nonverbal administration and response method.

The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, for ages 2-6 to 12-5: Looks primarily at simultaneous and sequential processing skills in addition to academic achievement.

Learning Disabilities

Learning disability is an umbrella term used to describe many different neurological disorders.

How an individual becomes learning disabled is still a mystery. However, it is theorized that learning disabilities are caused by a glitch in the nervous system. Theses glitches affect each person differently. For example, some individuals have difficulty concentrating while others have difficulty with motor skills. Children with learning disabilities have a glitch in how their brains are wired so that they might have difficulty with reasoning, spelling, writing and reading

There are many different types of learning disabilities, and as such, the term learning disability should be thought of as an umbrella term used to describe a student who doesn't learn in the mainstream way.

Specifically, a learning disability is defined as an impairment that interferes with the student's academic performance. The key point here is that the disability is explicit towards a particular area of learning. For example, a student may be able to read but not be able to write (What is IQ? - Tests & Definition, 2015)

Identifying Children with Learning Disabilities

Identifying children with a learning disability can be tricky because it can be confused with a lack of interest in a school subject. We must be able to identify the three most common learning disabilities: dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyslexia. The disorders are often described as disabilities because they may interfere with the student's ability to learn. Many students with a learning disability have average or above-average intelligence. However, many students with a learning disability also struggle with other disorders, such as Autism and ADHD.

Common Types of Learning Disabilities

The three most common learning disabilities are dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. The prefix 'dys-' is Greek meaning 'an impairment of,' so the three most common disabilities are an impairment of doing math, writing or reading.

Dyscalculia is a learning disability involving math. There is no single type of math disability, and individuals with dyscalculia have a lifelong learning disability. Dyscalculia can also affect people differently at different stages of their lives. Having trouble understanding math does not indicate dyscalculia. Symptoms of dyscalculia vary greatly; however, some common symptoms are the inability to recognize sequences and inability to recall math facts. In order to be successful in math, you have to have a good memory, be able to recognize sequences and have good organizational skills. A student with dyscalculia may have these skills in other areas, but in math, these skills are not present. For example, a student may be able to recall facts like football statistics but may not be able to recall their multiplication tables.

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor skills. Dysgraphia covers the physical act of writing, comprehension and synthesizing information. Just having sloppy handwriting doesn't indicate dysgraphia. Symptoms of dysgraphia include difficulty with writing letters and words, organization of thoughts and consistency in neatness.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that impairs a person's language ability. Students with this disability may have difficulty with reading, writing or spelling. Just being a slow reader or poor speller does not indicate dyslexia. Symptoms include difficulties with reading comprehension and inability to understand the meaning of words. (Learning Disabilities: How to Identify Children with a Learning Disability, 2013)

Least Restrictive Environment

Students with special needs were not always allowed in the mainstream classroom. In fact, just a few decades ago, students with learning disabilities were routinely segregated away from their classmates.

However, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all students with learning disabilities be taught in the least restrictive environment. The essence of this requirement is to ensure that students are not unnecessarily removed from the mainstream classroom or isolated away from their peers (Educating Students with Special Needs, 2012)


Educating Students with Special Needs. (2012, December 11). Retrieved from

Learning Disabilities: How to Identify Children with a Learning Disability. (2013, January 8). Retrieved from with-a-learning-disability.html.

What is IQ? - Tests & Definition. (2015, June 7). Retrieved from

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