How do I improve my IQ

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The best ways to score high on your next IQ test!

Since we, as humans, have found a way to determine our level of intelligence, it has become a signifier of our worth to society. IQ, the intelligence quotient, is a number on a scale that illustrates where you stand in comparison to others. What horsepower is to the vehicle, brain power is to us humans. It determines our problem-solving skills, our ability to use language, how easily we develop new skills, our ability to focus and even control our emotions. So, what does your IQ score say about you as a person?

Well, your IQ does depend on your age, your development, how often you push yourself to learn a new skill, a healthy diet, and yes, your parents. These are only a few examples, and some influences are more subtle than others.

The question is, what makes a human smart?

Genetics do set a number for you to achieve, a certain limit if you will, that you can reach with a nutritious diet, exercise, creativity, sleep, and brain training over the first few years of your life. You could say that your parents or any other guardians are in full control of your mental development until you are old enough to make those decisions yourself. But do not attack your parents should you soon realize your under-average IQ score.

A common misconception regarding intelligence is the influence of our hobbies on our mental capacity. Did you know that playing computer games, playing music, or doing crossword puzzles increases your cognitive abilities? Meditation helps with problem-solving and focus, and doing something like Theatre in your free time trains your memory. This is all good in theory, but what can we, as adults, do to test our brain function, and find ways to improve it?

infographic showing the IQ of an average person / Gaussian Bell Curve

How can an IQ be increased?

Many people wonder whether there is anything they can do before taking an IQ test that will help maximize their score. The fact is that success depends on these factors:

  • Physical and mental condition
  • Form on the day
  • Motivation to succeed
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Ability to cope with exam-related stress
  • Individual strengths and weaknesses

All these factors can affect a person’s test score.

Being in generally good health is crucial to optimize test performance. How many hours of sleep do you get? That and a balanced diet and living conditions that meet basic needs are essential to good health, especially for children. So, can you boost your intelligence, and ultimately, your IQ test score? Yes! It has been proven that with intense training and strong motivation, you can increase your score on IQ tests.

Please also take your mental health into account. Your brain function does depend on your mental state. Long-term as well as short-term. Taking care of your mental health improves your overall well-being and your brain power significantly. That does not mean that people with mental health problems are in any way less intelligent (actually most people burdened with high intelligence are also more likely to develop depression) but a healthy person can best utilize their brain.

A person doing crossword puzzles

What is brain training and what does it do?

Let's the basics out of the way first! You can't start working before you know what you're working on, right?

Your IQ relies on your cognitive skills, and your cognitive skills rely on frequent brain training. Not only when you are young. Much like our muscles, your brain function will weaken if you don't exercise it. Fact is, when we are young, we are constantly training our brain without even trying - just by experiencing the world. Everything is new to us. But that changes the older we get. Those things we learned are mundane to us now and the processing runs on autopilot, which means we must actively seek out challenges for our brain.

Did you know, there are actually specific exercises for the different areas in your brain? Here are the three main parts of it:

1. The cerebrum is the biggest and its main function is remembering, problem-solving, thinking, and feeling. It is the big wobbly mass that we most commonly associate with a brain.
2. At the back of your head lies the cerebellum. That's where coordination and balance are taken care of.
3. And in the middle, you'll find your brain stem. It connects the rest of your brain to your spinal cord, and controls all automatic functions like breathing, digestion, sleep, swallowing, etc.

The main areas of the human brain

While these are the parts of your brain, it is important to note that your cognitive skills, those measured in an IQ test, are divided into seven, not just three areas.

1. Long-Term Memory: helps you remember names, study for tests, and retain information.
2. Working Memory: helps you remember things while you are doing them, so you don't get stuck in a task or get lost on your way to work.
3. Logic and Reasoning: here's where your form ideas and solve problems. For example when you're working on a mathematic equation.
4. Auditory Processing: helps you analyze sounds, so you can understand what others are saying in a conversation.
5. Visual Processing: helps you form visual images in your head when reading for example - be it a text or a map.
6. Processing Speed: helps you work out tasks quickly and correctly, so you don't get left behind others.
7. Attention: helps you to focus on one thing at a time without getting distracted, or focus on more than one thing and remember all the information equally.

All of these areas in your brain need to be trained to unlock your full potential and increase your IQ.

Fun and Games? Or do you need more?

Two people playing a video game

When it comes to brain training, we often prefer to learn by playing games. Brain games like Sodoku and crossword puzzles help us increase our memory, focus, and speed of perception. But do they increase your IQ - If so, in what way?

Brain Games

If your goal is to have a good time while also using your working memory, brain games are for you. There are loads of apps for your phone, programs you can use on your computer or online that claim to train your brain.

Brain games claim to improve your memory. But how true is that? AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has conducted a survey in which about two out of three people who play brain games like Sodoku and crossword puzzles, believe that their memory has improved since.

While this is only a survey and not a scientific study, one cannot take it as definite proof. But it definitely does not hurt to do it. In the same way, going for a walk each day does not necessarily improve your physical health like, let's say, aerobic exercise does. But it sure helps to maintain your current physical health.

If you want to do better on an IQ test and actually improve your brain power, you will have to get into brain training.

Brain Training

Training is already part of the title. And training is what it is. It goes deeper than games, maybe it is less fun. But your brain actually benefits from it. it also means you will have to keep at it to maintain the results.

Brain or mental training is not limited to riddles and mathematical equations. The key is to also stay socially engaged, exercise, stick to a healthy diet, and even play video games if you're into that. Who knew? Creative people constantly train their brain and improve their cognitive skills.

Did you know, you don't have to pay for brain training? Most companies actually exaggerate the benefits of their products. But here are some exercises you can do for free in just a few minutes a day!

  • draw something from memory (working memory)
  • play an instrument (cognitive and motor function)
  • do simple math in your head (processing function)
  • make a shopping list in your head (working memory)
  • learn a new language (long-term memory)
  • play a video game (problem-solving)
  • meditate (focus)

After implementing all of that you surely want prove of your increased IQ. Your brain knows what you do to keep it healthy, but your consciousness wants to know how well you are doing, right? Time to take an IQ test!

Training for an IQ test - What's important?

  • First, create a pleasant atmosphere for testing. Get rid of anything that could negatively affect you before and during the test.
  • Train your brain regularly. This rule applies to taking exams in general. Daily life offers many opportunities to exercise and improve your brain function.
  • Learn to learn effectively and to enjoy doing it.
  • Be motivated, praise and reward yourself from time to time, and use the experiences of others to help you avoid mistakes.
  • Develop a regular schedule of study periods and breaks. Set goals and try to achieve them step by step.
  • Do not try to accomplish too much in a short time. This will only stress you out and undermine your self-confidence.
  • Work to improve your memory and concentration skills.

A person studying at a desk

Without regular practice, the ability to memorize and retain information decreases. As for concentration, it is relatively easy to limit or prevent external disturbances. It is much more difficult to eliminate nervous feelings and worries. Self-motivation, a positive attitude, and a true interest in learning can lead you to success. If you feel worn out and unmotivated, it is better to stop preparing for the test and start again later with fresh energy.

Also, think positive! This is the best way to protect yourself from disappointment, fear, stress, and indifference - not only while you are taking your test, but also in everyday life. Do not attach so much significance to negative things, but try to enjoy the small, happy moments in life. You will be surprised how quickly your mental health will improve!

To sum up this section, please permit us to quote the immortal words of the famous politician (which we took the liberty to modify slightly!): 'Practice, practice, AND practice AGAIN!'

What are the best ways to prepare for an IQ test?

Here are some Pro Tips:

  • Start preparing as early as possible. After all, a top athlete does not start training the day before the Olympics.
  • Learn and practice as regularly as possible. It is better to practice for one hour every day than for seven hours in one day.
  • Decide ahead of time how long your practice sessions will be and make sure you take enough breaks. It might be better to prepare for 30 minutes twice a day than for an hour at a time.
  • Try to understand HOW to solve the practice questions. Write down how you arrived at a solution and plan to use this algorithm to solve similar problems. Review and improve this algorithm as you go.
  • If you do not understand something and have tried everything to find the solution on your own, seek help from another source, even a person. Do not get discouraged and be open to having things explained to you in different ways.
  • When you are confident that you understand all the possible types of questions you will encounter, you can try completing a full mock test in a specified time.
  • After the evaluation, check where you stand - e.g., IQ = 100.
  • After the above evaluation, pinpoint your weaknesses. Practice again in those areas.
  • Repeat the previous steps several times.

As the test nears:

  • In the days leading up to the test, take care of all practical preparations. For example, if you must travel to the exam site, research the route, or even go there if possible. If you are taking public transportation, find out any connections and buy the tickets. No need to test your problem-solving skills by having to find an alternative route last minute.
  • Basically, get all the things you will need for the exam ready to go so you will not be stressed or distracted by them at the last minute.
  • Several days before the exam, start or continue a light, healthy diet. Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. Brain power relies on nutrition, not a quick drink to calm the nerves.
  • The day before, do only a light amount of studying. At this point, there is no point in trying to frantically learn things that you have not learned before.
  • Relax the night before, maybe by playing music and having a nice bath. Go to bed normally. Your brain will thank you.
  • On the day of the exam, you should be well-prepared if you followed all the steps above. Do not be upset by delays of buses and trains (if applicable) or other unforeseen events. Give yourself enough time so that small delays will not be a problem.

a woman meditating in her room

What do I need to keep in mind during the test?

  • Once the test has started and you have received your questions, listen carefully to what you are told about test procedures. If you do not understand something or something seems unclear, ask for clarification.
  • Right before you start and as you progress, check your watch or phone or the clock on the wall so you always know exactly how much time you have left.
  • Instead of starting the first question immediately, read through all the questions (for tests on computers, read through all the questions on the first screen page). Mark each question according to whether you already know the answer, probably know the answer, or need to think about the answer before choosing.
  • Calculate the average amount of time you will have to answer each question. For example, if you have two hours for 10 tasks, you have 120 minutes, which you then divide by the number of questions. For example, 120 minutes/10 = 12 minutes per task.
  • VERY IMPORTANT: Start with the questions you already know the answer to.
  • For example: I once had to take an exam with 100 questions. I had 20 minutes to choose the answers. I knew it would be impossible to answer them all in the allotted time. But not to worry – I had a strategy! First, I noted that for a correct answer, I would get one point. For a wrong answer, I would be penalized one point. For giving no answer at all, I would get zero points. The test structure was typical: The most difficult questions came first, followed by progressively easier questions. The people who immediately started answering the first (most difficult) questions ended up with negative scores at the end, because they were penalized one point for each wrong answer. But the people who had read through all the questions first started solving the easier ones first and ended up with positive scores because they got one point each for every correct answer.
  • It is important to NOT work on the first questions longer than the amount of time you initially calculated would be your average answering time. If you calculated 12 minutes per question and still have not figured out the answer in 12 minutes, go to the next easy question.
  • Once you have answered all the simpler questions (i.e., the ones you can answer immediately or very quickly) go back briefly to the one you started but have not yet answered. Can you figure it out now? If yes, solve that problem quickly. If not, leave it and go on to the moderately difficult questions you can probably figure out with a bit more effort.

a woman taking an exam and biting her pen

  • REMEMBER – always limit yourself to your pre-decided answering time. If you still have not found the answer, start with the next moderately difficult task. When you have answered all the moderately difficult questions (the ones you can figure out without too much effort), go back and look at the rest of the questions you have not been able to answer yet. Do you see the solution now? If so, answer quickly. If not, leave these to come back to later.
  • Be sure to regularly check the time remaining. Quickly calculate the average amount of time you have left to solve each unsolved question. Ideally, you should now have more time per task (E.g. 14 minutes).
  • With your remaining questions, start with the first difficult one (by difficult, I mean the one or ones you need to put more effort into solving). Try to figure out the answer for each in HALF of your predetermined average time per question (E.g. 7 minutes). Once you have arrived at the solution, answer the question. If you cannot answer it, go on to the next most difficult task.
  • At this point, you should have only a small number of unsolved questions. In principle, you have now already passed the exam. Do not stop yet, though! You still have a chance to maximize your score.
  • Next, start to read back over all the questions you have answered to spot any errors you might have made (maybe due to a lack of concentration). Correct any errors.
  • Next, re-read any questions you have not yet solved. Do not look at your previous work on those questions! Start over completely from scratch and try again to work out the answer(s).
  • If you do not arrive at an answer within a reasonable time according to how much time remains on the test, try the next task.
  • IMPORTANT: There is nothing wrong with not being able to answer all the test questions! A good test will always have questions that only geniuses can solve. Unsolved questions are no reason to get nervous or discouraged.
  • Also - never, ever stop the test early! Always take advantage of any time you still have available to check over your answers.
  • The exam is over. You did it! If you followed the advice above, you will get a good score.

Should I guess answers?

On many or most tests, you are given several possible answers. But if you are not sure which is the right one, should you just guess?

This question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. In most cases, you should guess. But there are some cases where it is better not to do so. This is always the case when you get penalized for giving wrong answers. For example, if you receive one point for a correct answer, get penalized one point for an incorrect answer, and get zero points for not answering at all, it is better to only choose answers you are more than 50 percent sure are correct.

Again, this is why it is SO important to practice exam situations beforehand. This is also where you learn about the point distribution algorithm. If you are not sure about anything, just ask!

If you will not be penalized for giving wrong answers, guess systematically.

In the answers to our example IQ test, we introduced you to a rate algorithm that often gives the correct solution. In general, you should do the following:

  • First, cross out the answers you are sure are wrong.
  • Next, identify the answers that occur more than once in a similar form. For example: Who invented chewing gum? A) Meier B) Schmidt C) Mayer D) Hans - In this question, it seems as if a Meier or Mayer probably invented chewing gum.
  • Try to find the “pitfall” solution (the answer that is only “almost” right). This type of answer usually seems correct at first glance because you have not read the question well but is incorrect.
  • Lastly, look at all remaining answers and choose the one that seems the best or take your best guess.

Should you include how you arrived at an answer?

IQ tests usually include multiple-choice questions, for which you choose the correct answer from several options. It can be difficult to choose the correct answer. However, if you still have time, for all answers you are not yet sure of, I advise briefly describing why you believe your choice is correct.

If you are given the opportunity to write down your answers, do so. Especially on an IQ test, it is more important to show how you arrived at an answer (your thinking process) than to just choose the correct one.

On an oral IQ test, you should always justify how you arrived at your answers. Some questions will always have several correct answers. If you can show your reasoning, the examiner can see whether you know or have found the correct path to the answer.

What are the IQs of some famous people?

Since historically most famous people have never actually taken an IQ test, their exact IQs are not known. The IQs below are estimates and should not be quoted as fact.

Now, who do you compare to?

Start the 30 min free IQ test here
Start here the most detailed free IQ test on the internet

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