Are IQ tests of the very young valid?

I’m very curious about this and was sparked from the ‘Bell Curve’ thread in great debates.

I am skeptical about IQ tests but had a personal experience with them while younger that makes me wonder if they do indeed have some validity.

Currently, I am considered by colleagues, family and friends as bright. When I was in grades 1,2,3 I received very bad grades and was almost held back once. In grade 1, they gave me an IQ test for some reason or other. It became a thing to do in high school to look at your file. When I looked it had a score of 138 for this test. My first grade teacher had a note saying I did not have an IQ that high, was actually average to below average, and questioned the test results.

Well, the teacher seems to be wrong and the test right… What gives? Does this test really measure something or is it just bunk? If it’s bunk, was it just a fluke in my case?


IQ tests are indeed sketchy at very young ages, and any kind of accuracy would depend on a somewhat tailored test being given by a psychologist (versus filling out a form and then adjusting for age with a much-too-simple chart). I suspect your test was probably given properly. What else can you tell us about how the test was administered? Did it take half a day, or 30 minutes? Did it consist of a simple written test, or was there a verbal aspect as well?

I think you probably are very bright and 138 may have been an accurate score.

Regardless, I think your teacher was an ass.

Eleusis, my memory is somewhat sketchy but it I believe it was with a psychologist. I had to go to someone’s office and take a test one on one. I seem to remember it taking awhile.

When I was in high school, I remember my mom telling me that they wanted to put me in a ‘special’ program and she refused, disbelieving what they were saying and she stuck to her guns.

My mom kept everything. She still has tests, quizzes, report cards from every grade I was in. My grades were terrible in grades 1,2 below average in 3 and started taking off in 4+.

I don’t blame the teacher or think she was an ass for the note she put in. I just realized now that my third grade teacher realized I needed glasses. About when my grades started shooting up…coincidence? The first grade teacher should have been on the lookout for this and is probably the reason for my terrible performance.

Anyhoo, that is not why I really posted. I am wondering if these tests are used today and if they are valid.

I don’t have any expert knowledge about IQ tests, but I have two children who’ve been tested by our school system, one at the age of 5 and the other at 8. The tests lasted most of the day in both cases, and because young children don’t tend to do well sitting still for that long, I was concerned that they might come out with artificially low scores. I can’t think of a way that a properly administered IQ test would reflect an artificially high score.

While an IQ test may not be the definitive measure of a person’s overall intelligence or ability, it certainly does measure something. I’d be skeptical of claims that a small difference in IQ scores is indicative of differing intellectual capacities, but from everything I’ve seen, an IQ of, say, 80 definitely points to a substantially lower ability than one of 130.

Age is a factor when calculating results.
But unlike what some people will tell you your IQ can change as you get older. Usually because younger people have a hard time understanding some concepts or lack some knowledge that pertains to the question.

What would an actual half day IQ test cost these days?

[another hijack]
Why was I always pulled out of the classroom in the 1st and 2nd grade and given tests that were basically an easy maze and the goal was for me to keep my line as close to the middle as possible? Nobody else had to do it…
[/another hijack]

Children take a different IQ test than adults: the Wechsler Children’s Intelligence Test vs. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Test. The Stanford-Binet for children (an older test) may also be administered in lieu thereof. In any event, one’s IQ does change until the person reaches the age of 18. Theoretically, once the person reaches 18, his or her IQ does not change unless he’s under a mental disorder or reaches senility.

I don’t have a cite, but another parent who had her child tested privately a year ago told me she paid $230 for testing. The battery of tests required by New Mexico for identification of “gifted” students is heavily weighted towards the IQ test (the Wechsler scale - WISCIII - is used), but there are two additional elements, so I’m not sure how much of the time or the cost was for just the IQ test.

[further hijack]In New Mexico, “gifted” children are considered to be “special needs” students and are legally entitled to an appropriate education that’s tailored to their needs. If a teacher thinks that a student needs enriched education, he or she refers the student and testing is done through the public schools district office. Some parents end up getting their children tested privately because this process can take a great deal of time and a parent cannot insist on having his/her child tested if the classroom teacher doesn’t think there’s a need.[/further hijack]

Valid, yes. Predictive, no.

An IQ test provides a snapshot of intellectual functioning at a point in time. Properly administered and interpreted, they are extraordinarily accurate, contrary to popular mythology. However, IQ scores do not become stable until around seven years of age, owing to the rapid rate of neuropsychological development in early childhood. What this means is that although your IQ at age ten is strongly predictive of your IQ at age 80, your IQ at age four is not strongly predictive of much of anything, other than your intellectual functioning at age four.

I don’t know how long ago you took your IQ test, but tests have changed considerably during the past 30 years. There are no tests that require a half day to administer; most can be completed in an hour and a half. Of course, it would generally be irresponsible for a psychologist to administer only an IQ test to a child, so you may have taken other tests as well, such as fine motor, visual-motor, memory, etc.

Contrary to what some posters have said, IQ scores do not vary much with age. The tests are normed on standardization groups that are six months to one year apart, and age is considered in the scoring. Your IQ is a measure of where you perform in relation to your age group. So even though your intellectual functioning increases with age until adulthood, your position relative to your age peers stays fairly constant.


I’d take issue with you that IQ doesn’t vary with age. You’ve not considered the ceiling effect which can come into play with the Weschler tests and the Stanford Binet tests.

Primaflora, ceiling effects are properties of tests, not of IQ itself. And this problem generally arises only with scores at the extremes of the distribution, not for kids closer to the average range. Today, there is enough age overlap that a good psychologist should be able to avoid problems with the floors and ceilings of commercially available tests.

Even if you stay only within the Wechsler family of tests, age overlap looks like this:

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scales of Intelligence, 3rd edition (WPPSI-III) - 2:6 to 7:3

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 3rd edition (WISC-III) - 6:0 to 16:11

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd edition (WAIS-III) - 16 to 89

[Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) - 6 to 89]

If a child is in the area overlap, the psychologist must use her judgment about the examinee’s ability in order to avoid ceiling and floor effects. If the examiner thinks it’s too close to call, she can also use the Differential Ability Scales, the Woodcock Johnson cognitive, the Stanford Binet, or even a nonverbal IQ test, if that’s appropriate. And there’s no rule saying you can’t administer more than one.

Perhaps what I should have said is “IQ scores, accurately measured, do not vary much with age.”

Savaka, I don’t follow what you mean by age overlap between available tests meaning a good psychologist can avoid ceiling effects.

Do you mean out of age testing? Using the WISC III with a 5 yo who tops out the WPPSI-R?

The Weschler tests are commonly considered to be ceilinged at 140 so if a child scores above 140 and has 3 or more scores of 17 and above on the subtests, you’re probably looking at a child who tested with a test which can test higher will score higher. Unfortunately until the new SB V is released next year, we don’t have a currently normed test which goes that high. The SB IV can pick up some kids but it’s unusual for high IQs to be found with that test. I’ve never heard of an IQ above 170 being identified with the SB IV. The SB LM is being used by psychs such as Silverman but it’s in no way accepted everywhere as a reliable test.

It’s very difficult to measure IQ at the extremes. I haven’t heard much about whether the new SB V is going to be useful at the bottom end of the bell curve but the hope is that it will measure up to 200.

Primaflora, your points are all valid. I didn’t realize that you were talking about such extreme scores. It’s possible (and far more likely) to get ceiling effects with more average scores when the examinee’s age falls in the area of overlap of the tests. The age overlap of the Wechsler scales is more than adequate for most of these cases.

You were talking about truly extreme scores, though. It’s important to remember that much of what is true about the middle of the distribution doesn’t apply at the tails (the Flynn effect, for one thing). One reason it’s so difficult to measure extreme IQ scores is that standardization samples are, by definition, limited in size. The largest sample I’ve ever seen is around 3000 total, for all age groups combined. As a practical matter, what this means is that if I earn a standard score of 80, I know that there were a fair number of people in the standardization sample who performed at or near my range, and I can be confident that my score accurately reflects my position in the general population. If I get a score of 180, on the other hand, I know that there was likely no one in my age group in the standardization sample who scored anywhere close to that, so my relative position in the general population, as indicated by my IQ score, is more speculative.

Scores beyond 155 or so are pretty much extrapolated, regardless of the test used. This doesn’t mean that they’re useless, and a psychologist who gets a WISC-III Full Scale IQ of 145 should probably give a test with a higher ceiling like the SB:LM (even though the norms are out of date), to find out exactly what kind of 145 he’s dealing with. And with a score that high, you would want to do some cross-battery assessment to find out what the intra-individual strengths and weaknesses are; Wechsler isn’t much good for that.

However, we need to be careful when we talk about the differences between scores of, say, 160 and 190, on the one hand, and scores of 85 and 115, on the other. It’s a discrepancy of 30 points either way, but standard deviation means something different at the tails than it does at the mean. Personally, I’m unconvinced that there’s any value in measuring IQs beyond 170. That represents a score of one in a million. We don’t understand giftedness well enough to know what scores higher than that even mean.

However, getting back to the original point… (Remember Alice? It’s a song about Alice.) Nothing in the foregoing discussion changes the fact that IQs are considered stable after about age seven. Variance in IQ scores over time, due to ceiling or floor effects, is a function of the psychometric properties of the test used, not the underlying intellectual functioning of the child. Barring trauma or educational deprivation, IQ remains relatively stable throughout life.

Something to remember about this situation is that these tests are normed on a large group of children. If a majority of children don’t do well sitting that long, the curve of the norm group’s obtained IQ scores will reflect this; i.e., the amount of squirming, crankiness, and loss of attention that kids have will affect their performance, and so will be reflected in the distribution of scores. This will be one of the factors that determines where the center of a bell-shaped IQ distribution will fall. So trouble sitting still wouldn’t artificially depress the child’s IQ, but rather, if the child had the same degree of trouble that 68% of the norm group had, all other things being equal, they’d fall within one standard deviation of the mean IQ for their age group. A simpler way of saying this is: On a well-normed test, trouble sitting still has been accounted for by looking at the real performance of real kids. The average IQ score is rooted in the average of the kids in the norm group, not in an idea about what “should” be an “average” performance.

Yes–because a kid who scores 130 is performing like fewer than 2% of the children tested, and so is a kid with a 70, on the other end of the curve. Though an IQ score (e.g., “115”) is often reported popularly, psychologists are trained to present a statistically-determined range into which the person’s score is likely to fall on repeated testing (in psychology-speak, the range based on obtained score into which the true score is 95% likely to fall). As alluded to in other posts, good IQ tests measure a variety of factors, typically both verbal and non-verbal, so that the IQ reflects responses to a variety of tasks and is more holistic (e.g., my own IQ score is higher on tests that have only verbal items than it is ontests including both verbal and motor skills). These tasks/factors are further broken out in a good report so you can see the person’s strengths and weaknesses relative to the norm group, their age group, and their own performance.

Nobody yet has mentioned the issue of cultural bias, which we’re working hard to try to understand and accommodate in cognitive testing.

I too have the same problem. At age 5, in 1998, I was administered an I.Q. test by a cousin who was going for her degree in the psychological field (I believe) and years later, she told me I had an I.Q. of 156. I have been wondering for some time now if that could still be correct. I am 17 and am quite curious about the validity of these results. Unfortunately, I do not recall what test was administered, and I have lost my cousin’s number. Please help me sort out this conundrum. Thank you

This is a nine year old thread so it is unlikely the original participants will see your post. Why not just take the adult test after you turn 18 and see if the numbers match?

Yeah, that’s why those Asians do so poorly. They don’t understand the questions about when you can stop wearing white shoes or the difference between Country, Western, and Country Western music.

How is an IQ of a zombie tested?

How is babby zombie formed?

[Barry White] Mmm. sweet zombie love. When two zombies get close, it’s like they become one. Really, bits get mashed together and you end up with slightly less than two zombies and some nasty, nasty gumbo. [/Barry White]