Does your IQ really matter? Here is Why a high IQ doesn’t mean you’re smart!

You are sitting in front of your computer or with a smartphone in your hand mindlessly scrolling down your Facebook news feed. You’ve been feeling a bit insecure since losing your job or getting dumped by your girlfriend or boyfriend or just having a bad day, so it’s your good fortune on this particular dark day that you come across one of those bunkum posts that say, “If you can correctly answer these questions you have a genius-level IQ.” Lo and behold, like your friends before you, you score 10 out of 10 and get rewarded with the knowledge that you’re a genius with an IQ of over 160.

You seem blissfully unaware that most 10-year olds could get those questions right. Nonetheless, you’re not too bright and so you share your results, which is exactly what the creators of the post wanted you to do.

Poor you, if you had a higher IQ, you might be savvier to the manipulative guff that does the rounds on social media. OK, so you knew the capital city of France and you understood that the chemical formula for water is H2O. You even knew that Earth was the third rock from the sun.

We hate to burst your bubble here, but that doesn’t mean you have a high IQ, far from it. You can’t base IQ on the ability to answer a handful of easy general knowledge questions. 

There are even games of “spot of the difference” surfacing on Facebook these days, stating that if you can spot the 10 differences you have an IQ of 180 or over. 

What is IQ?

Before I tell you how you can easily improve your own IQ, you need to know a few things about what IQ actually means. Its full name is intelligence quotient. Such standardized tests have been around since the late 19th century, with their purpose being to help judge a person’s intelligence. Sometimes the tests were given to see if a person’s background, often a child, affects their intelligence. For example, does poverty affect IQ, or does bloodline make a difference? 

During the First World War, the American Army gave new recruits such intelligence tests so it could try and judge what a person could or couldn’t do. It still does that now. Later, industry and education started using such tests. There are lots of different IQ tests, but if you’ve ever taken one that has a vast number of questions and gives you a headache, you’ll know that to get a lot of questions right you’ll need to be good at a few things. Those are usually :

  • Arithmetic,
  • Abstract reasoning, 
  • Logic,  
  • Vocabulary, and
  • Spatial reasoning. 

Other IQ tests focus more on memory. The average IQ is around 100. If you score over 145, you are in the top 0.1 percentile. If you get below 70 you are in the bottom 2.1 percentile. 

Countries with their average IQ levels of people

We shouldn’t have to say it, but if you can spot a missing cat paw on a sketch it has no bearing whatsoever on your IQ. In fact, if you fell for that test it would likely mean that your reasoning faculties are not top-notch. It’s not easy scoring well past 100. 

  • Singapore citizens have the highest average IQ in the world at 108. 
  • China is 105. 
  • Switzerland is the highest European nation at an average of 102.
  • Canada is the highest in the Americas at an average of 99.
  • The U.S. average is 98.
  • The UK average is 100.
  • Brazil is just 87.
  • India, 81. 
  • South Africa, 77. 

Don’t fear if you did a test and were below average, because between 85 and 115 is considered in the normal range. 

There are different kinds of intelligence, too. No doubt a gifted computer programmer would score high in a general IQ test, but someone who’d grown up farming in a hill tribe in South East Asia would likely score low. Ask that programmer to survive up in those hills and for all your intelligence, he’d likely fail.

All the same, if that farmer had an IQ higher than your peers he might be faster than them deducing tricky problems on the farm. You might have an average IQ and still write a novel or a historical piece of nonfiction that will be read for centuries to come because your insights were outstanding.

There are also plenty of people with genius-level IQ who struggle to get a job. Still, a high IQ overall is an indicator of success. Although the social class is way more important when it comes to making it in life. Success also often depends on the environment you grew up in. 

You might only have average intelligence but were schooled at Eton, where British political leaders and other ruthless capitalists often cut their teeth. 

You could have high intelligence in Britain but were schooled at a place nicknamed the “Zoo” and grew up with selfish parents that at best acknowledged your existence when feeding you your meager daily ration of baked beans on toast. But if you had parents that instilled in you self-confidence, perseverance, self-awareness, open-mindedness, creative thinking, critical thinking- well, that could work out well, even if you are poor.

Factors that affect your IQ

There are so many factors when it comes to success, including having lady luck on your side, but in general, a high IQ is better than a low IQ when it comes to getting by in the world of work. But again, we must point out the environment you grew up in. Poverty and trauma is a serious issue that should never be overlooked when considering intelligence. 

For centuries the wealthy folks in the world have looked down on the poor for their alleged low intelligence, calling them names like white trash. It’s not as if those rich folks were born with big brains. Their success was simply down to where they were born, in some cases at least. 

People with the highest IQs

Before we get to the teaching part, let’s look at some examples of high IQ in the real world. 

  •  An American man named Richard Rosner. His IQ is off the charts. He’s scored 190 on some tests. He’s had some strange jobs, too, at one time working as a nude model and another time working as a bouncer. 
  • Then there’s the Greek man, Evangelos Katsioulis. With an IQ of around 198, he’s said to have one of the highest IQs in the entire world. He currently works as a psychiatrist in Greece and is also the founder of the World Intelligence Network. 
  • The South Korean/Japanese man named Sho Yano started college at the young age of nine and had a PhD. by the time he was 21. His IQ is an astounding 200. This former child genius now works in child neurology. 
  • The Guinness Book of Records once had an American woman named Marilyn Vos Savant as having the highest IQ. She once scored 228 on an IQ test, although some people have questioned the formula used on that test. Still, she’s a genius, there’s no doubt about that. 

These people seemed to do well in life, giving strength to the theory that high IQ leads to success. But what about the American guy named Nathan Leopold? He had an IQ of around 200, but he ended up in prison for committing murder. He thought he was so darn clever that he could commit the crime of the century and get away with it, but he was wrong. At a young age, he was obsessed with German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of the “Superman”. It seems a lot of people who take this route end up in dark places, including Mr. Hitler. Perhaps humility is a sign of intelligence, too. 

Does IQ determine your profession?

We had a look at a study that was undertaken to try and compare certain IQ with various jobs. That doesn’t mean that all workers of one job will have an IQ close to other workers in that job, but some occupations on average seem to be filled with higher or lower IQ. 

  • Janitors, for instance, were at the lower end of the scale with an average IQ spanning from about 75 to 110. 
  • Auto mechanics ranged from 75 to 118. 
  • High school teachers from 92 to 126. 
  • And at the top of the scale were college professors. They scored on average from the high 90s to over 130. 
  • Physicians scored ever higher, from 106 to over 130.

What this means of course is you can be an auto mechanic or a janitor with the same IQ as a college professor, but in general, if you work as a professor or a doctor, your IQ will likely be higher than that of a janitor. From what we can see, a lot of high-paying jobs employ people with higher IQs. If you want a higher-paying job, then, maybe improving your IQ couldn’t hurt. 

Can I improve my IQ by taking IQ Tests?

You’d think that just by taking lots and lots of tests, you’d be able to improve your IQ score. That’s actually debatable. It might work, it might not. There’s a saying that goes,

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” 

This maxim is often attributed to Albert Einstein, but he never said it. 

The saying is kind of true, though. If you want to improve at something it’s better to explore different avenues as to the problem you want to solve, in this case, your IQ score. 

One thing that has seen positive results in doing just that is working on your memory. According to studies we found, a better memory can help you to attain a higher standard of something called, “fluid intelligence.” 

You need good fluid intelligence to attain a high IQ score because it relates to solving problems on your feet, meaning you don’t have the key to the problem but you can figure it out. That’s what a real IQ test will have in wait for you; lots of tricky problems you haven’t seen before. 

Here is what some studies found

During one study, participants all had to take tests relating to their fluid intelligence. But, some people took the tests without any memory training and others had some memory training. By memory, we mean, working memory, which refers to the memory you use for temporary tasks. If we say the words, sheep, ghost, Steve Jobs, Ukraine, blue, incredible, and we tell you to repeat that to us in 10 seconds, you’re using your working memory. 

In the tests in the study, each time someone was asked to remember something, there was never any pattern. Each test was different, making the person think on their feet. There was no key to the puzzle. Each time they had to adapt to a different test. This in fact was training their brains, and as you know, being able to think on your feet is good for IQ tests. 

Once those people were good at solving the memory questions, they were asked to take the fluid memory test, as were the people in the study that hadn’t done the memory tests. What was the outcome? 

The researchers said that those who’d taken the memory tests showed a striking difference in how they fared with the fluid intelligence test. Their conclusion was: “Our findings are of general significance because they provide evidence for enhancement of fluid intelligence by cognitive training different from training the test itself.” By different, they mean you don’t have to train at an IQ test to necessarily become better at it. 

You can just improve your working memory. To do this yourself, just go online and find working memory tests. There are tons of them. The researchers said their work was remarkable because it has always been thought that fluid intelligence wasn’t something that could be improved. It was previously thought to be innate, unchangeable, but it isn’t. 

Some tips to improve your IQ

I suggest you take an IQ test before you do this and see what score you get. Then do the memory tests and do them until you see some improvement. After that, take the IQ test again, or one that is similar, and then see what score you get. If the researchers are right, you might just see an improvement. The brain’s elastic, or what people often say, a muscle, so don’t go thinking you can’t improve. You can. So, even though you might think you need to be going online and doing lots of IQ tests, it’s working memory improvement that will get you ahead. 

1. If you’ve done IQ tests, you’ll also know a lot of questions relate to spatial awareness. That can be putting shapes in the right place. Believe it or not, just by doing jigsaw puzzles you can improve upon this. You can also play games where objects are put in a certain place, then removed, and subsequently, the person has to tell someone to put the object back in the right place with words. 

2. Like the star of the Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit”, you could also imagine playing chess in your head. This will train what’s called, “Spatial Cognition.” There are other games you can play that might help you to solve problems on an IQ test, as long as they are problem-solving games. 

3. Take Scrabble for instance, in that game you not only have to create the highest-scoring words but you have to place a word in a sometimes complex grid of letters. You use something called your executive functions when you play games like Scrabble or similar games. These functions are what you need to solve challenges that are sometimes not anticipated. Again, you have to think on your feet, and if you play such games, you can improve your fluid intelligence.

Many games that ask you to think outside the box to attain a good score could help you improve your IQ score. When doing these tests, you can’t rely on old habits, and you can’t just be impulsive, you need this ability to look at things from all angles.

Improve your Fluid Intelligence

I’ve found another study relating to the improvement of fluid intelligence, called, “Multi-modal fitness and cognitive training to enhance fluid intelligence.” That’s a bit of a mouthful. In layman’s terms, it means doing different stuff to train your brain to solve problems you might not have seen before. They took 424 healthy adults and split them up. Some did just fitness training. Others did fitness along with cognitive training. Others did those two but with some added meditation. The last group did nothing. 

The long and short of this was the people that did the training were better at visuospatial reasoning, which means moving objects around and knowing where things should go. Those people then performed better on fluid intelligence tests. 

So, like those study participants, you could do the same. Try and keep fit; play some cognitive games online, and maybe even practice some mindfulness. There’s no solid proof that things like learning a second language or reading books will help you improve your IQ score, but learning a new language does make you think about how language is constructed. This might help you with the verbal reasoning part of the test. 

As for reading books, well, you should try it. It’s massively underrated, and the more you read, the less likely you’ll end up playing spot the difference so you can bask in the warmth of having a completely unsubstantiated high IQ score. 


Now I’ll finish with a real quote from Einstein, something very relevant to you getting a better brain,

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”

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