The origin of the IQ Test


Mankind has always been on a mission to better itself in whatever field or endeavor it sought out
to accomplish. In doing so, our race came upon the need to quantify and differentiate. This is ever
more valid for the human intelligence.

Pinpointing the birthdate of the IQ Test is, more often than not, an arduous journey that can vary
from author to author. In the early 19th century, Paul Broca and Sir Francis Galton were two of the
first academics who pondered on the importance of measuring intelligence under what we now
know is the wrong assumption that intellectual prowess is directly linked to the size of the human
skull – the bigger your head, the smarter you are. Around the same period, Wilhelm Wundt
suggested that mankind’s innate capacity to process thoughts was the real method of measuring
one’s intelligence. In today’s day and age, it is fair to say that both these lines of thinking are no
longer relevant, but were in fact the predecessors of what is now called the modern IQ Test.
At the beginning of the 1900s, two French psychologists by the names of Alfred Binet and Theodore
Simon were solicited by the Ministry of Education to create a test that would assist in distinguishing
between children who suffer from any form of mental impedance and those who did not have any
disorders but were what we normally refer to as “lazy”. It is important to provide the historical
context that led to the need for this test: a recent law had been passed making it mandatory for
children to attend school, thus the need to devise a way of branding a child’s needs based on their
intellectual capacity.

Binet and Simon’s initial approach was to formulate questions founded on subjects that are not
commonly trained at school such as focus, memory and problem-solving skills. The goal of this
process was to regulate and ultimately predict the overall success of the child at an academic level.
Once Binet started processing the data he had obtained, it came to his attention that physical age
was not a defining factor when it came to correctly answering the questions – some potential
scholars were better at answering more complex questions when compared with older children.
The opposite was also valid. Intrigued by this prospect, Binet then came to suggest the idea of
mental age, this being the measurement of intelligence based on a child’s average ability within a
specific age group.

After obtaining and analyzing a significant amount of data, the first intelligence test was born under
the name Binet-Simon Scale. This innovative method became the foundation of the intelligence
tests that are still carried out during our times. This is not to say that Binet, the test’s creator, didn’t
find some flaws in its effectiveness: it is not reasonable that a person’s level of intelligence be
labelled based solely on a standardized test. Binet emphasized that several intellectual factors need
to be considered and that an ideal result would only be possible when comparing subjects with
similar upbringings. The initial use of the term IQ dates back to 1912 when William Stern, a German
psychologist, entertained the idea of an intelligence quotient, based on the works of Binet.
Despite its limitations, the Binet-Simon Scale was a remarkable milestone in quantifying the human
psyche and quickly found a place for itself within the United States where it was first used by Lewis
Termin, a Stanford University psychologist, who applied the test to a sample of American applicants.
This evolution of the initial test was published in 1916 as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and
remains the standard intelligence test used in the country to this day. The result of this test, also
known as the IQ or Intelligence Quotient score is calculated by dividing the test taker’s mental age
by their chronological age and then multiplying this number by 100. For instance, considering a child
with a mental age of 15 and a chronological age of 12, their IQ would be 125 (15 ÷ 12 x 100).
The IQ Test’s first massive trial by fire happened during World War I where 2 million recruits were
asked to undergo this examination with the intent of allocating soldiers to certain roles and
leadership positions. In 1917 two tests were developed by Robert Yerkes, the then chair of the
Committee on the Psychological Examination of Recruits – the Alpha and Beta tests. The Alpha test
was planned as a written test, while the Beta test was comprised of images oriented at soldiers who
could not read and/or speak English. Despite the end of the war, these tests remained prominent in
everyday life. As an example, they were used as a selection process for new immigrants intending
to enter the United States. The massive use of this test did however lead to wrong preconceptions
about specific nationalities which, in its place, led to restrictions related to human influx.
Unhappy with the restrictions of the Stanford-Binet scale, American psychologist David Wechsler
issued a new intelligence test, acknowledged as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), in
1955. Much like Binet, Wechsler thought that intelligence involved different mental abilities.
Wechsler also established two different tests explicitly oriented to children: the Wechsler
Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
(WPPSI). The adult equivalent of the test has undergone intense revisions since its maiden version
and is currently known as the WAIS-IV.

The WAIS-IV covers ten subtests as well as five complementary tests. The test covers four key areas
of intelligence: verbal understanding, perceptual reasoning, memory and processing speed. Instead
of utilizing a chronological and mental age premise, the WAIS score is obtained by associating the
subject’s score with individuals in the same age group. This scoring method has become the
standard technique in intelligence testing and is also used in the modern revision of the StanfordBinet test.
As is valid for all forms of human experience, quantifying one’s intelligence is not a simple process
and, as has been mentioned, suffered several updates throughout the decades. What is true though
is that we can rest assured that great minds are constantly studying and perfecting what we know
about the mystery that still is the human mind.

How to Keep your Mind Sharp


Our body is a wonderful piece of art and, like all forms of complex chemical and mechanical
matter, we need to understand it in order to better take care of it. The most mysterious and
intriguing of these is our brain. It holds countless secrets that science is yet to find answers to
and, as with all muscles, it needs to be exercised in order to fully function. Here are a few tips
and tricks to keep your brain in ideal condition regardless of the effects of aging.

Get Physical Exercise

Body and Mind are connected in more ways than we can imagine. The way you treat your
physical side is going to undeniably reflect itself on your mind. Make sure that you stay physically
active, even if you can only make time for a simple walk. Numerous studies have shown that the
slightest form of motion can go a long way into improving both memory and cognitive skills. At
an anatomical level, the impact caused by your foot when walking causes pressure waves
through the arteries which increases blood flow. Sports that are proven to be optimal sources
of brain health are:

  • Team sports such as basketball or football
  • Cycling
  • Yoga or Tai Chi
  • Aerobic or gym exercise
  • Walking
  • Running or jogging
  • Water sports

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Food is the fuel that keeps us running as human beings so maintaining a close eye on what we
consume is extremely important. Our brain is particularly fond of nuts, fish and even red wine;
however, these products are also known to give our mind an extra boost:

  • Salmon – a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Green Tea – rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, it not only improves alertness and
    focus, but is also known to reduce the risk of serious diseases such as Alzheimer or
  • Eggs – packed with essential nutrients such as B6, B12, folate and choline, all elements
    that help regulate both our memory and our general mood
  • Blueberries – the antioxidants they contain aid in improving the communication
    between brain cells, delay short-term memory loss and also reduce inflammation.

Work on your posture

It might sound like a cliché that your parents, teachers and even television has been feeding you
throughout the years, but the truth is that having good posture plays a beneficial role on your
wellbeing. Studies show that keeping an upright posture does improve the circulation and blood
flow to the brain. Here are three simple tips to make sure you’re in the right direction:

  • Sleep with an aligned spine – resting on your back or on the side is known to generate
    less stress on your spine. When sleeping on your back, gravity makes sure that your body
    is centered on your spine. Should you sleep on your side, try to point your chin straight
  • Balance- exercising your overall body balance will not only avoid occasional tripping and
    falling, but it also benefits your spine. More relaxing activities such as Yoga or Tai Chi are
    very beneficial in this regard.
  • Weigh healthy – Being over or underweight adds stress to your muscles and ultimately
    makes you more inclined to adopt a wrong body posture

Sleep as much as you can

This is a tricky one and will clearly vary from person to person. Not getting enough sleep can
deeply impact your overall state of mind and lead to severe problems related to memory,
concentration, as well as cognitive functions. It is during our snooze time that newly acquired
skills and memories are processed by our brains creating a permanent imprint. As a rule of
thumb, adults above 65 should attempt to get 7-8 hours sleep, while those aged 26 to 64 should
aim at 7-9 hours. Here are some suggestions on how to make the most of our bedtime:

  • Consistency – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time on a routine basis.
    Repetition is key to a healthy rest.
  • Light dinners – having very large meals can lead to longer digestive periods which can
    both be harmful to your stomach and deprive you from sleep. Try to keep your evening
    food consumption to small snacks such as nuts or fruit.
  • Cut on stimulants – Coffee, Chocolates, Cola or Cigarettes should be highly avoided
    between four to six hours prior to going to bed. Alcohol should also be limited as it
    disrupts both REM and slow-wave sleep, both essential to a healthy memory.

Never Stop Learning

Not only is the unknown exciting, but it also stimulates the brain. Studies have shown that
reading and writing on a regular basis, for instance, helps reduce memory loss at a later stage in
life by 32%. Playing a musical instrument is also a beneficial way of engaging your memory and
so is learning a foreign language as it improves cognitive functioning in older adults as well as
helps strengthen your decision making, believe it or not. Having a hobby also increases your
notion of self-esteem and self-worth which in itself can do wonders for the mind. Simply think
about something that interests you and go for it. A few ideas to start things off:

  • Carpentry
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Photography
  • Fishing
  • Painting
  • Swimming

Don’t over-use your brain

It is important to remember that we are not machines, meaning that we have the luxury of not
having all the answers at all times. Save your mental energy by choosing what needs to be
remembered and what doesn’t. Use calendars, planners, shopping lists or address books instead
of wasting away mental power that could be used for other, more significant, tasks. Not having
to worry about too many details will help you focus better and free up your memory.
These are but a few tips and tricks that will get you on your way to programming your brain to
better aid you in day-to-day tasks. Keep in mind that aging is part of life, but we have the power
to take care of ourselves and make sure that our journey on Earth is an amazing one from day