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Intelligence quotient (IQ) tests help measure certain levels of comprehension and ability by asking a variety of types of questions. Some types of IQ questions help test knowledge, such as verbal and mathematical questions. Other IQ questions may help determine levels of comprehension and natural abilities, such as logic, spatial relationship, and pattern recognition. By using many different types of IQ questions, standardized tests can help give a general score, or highlight specific mental strengths and weaknesses.
Verbal questions make up a significant portion of many IQ tests. These questions may take different forms, though most are rendered as multiple-choice questions. Verbal IQ questions may test language comprehension, spelling, and the ability to make accurate analogies. It is important to have a mastery of vocabulary to do well in a verbal IQ test, since many of the questions cannot be answered if the test-taker does not know the definition of any of the words.
Mathematical questions also rely heavily on the assumption that the test-taker has a basic understanding of mathematical functions, such as adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. Most IQ questions based on math will not require the knowledge of advanced mathematics, though some do use the basic principles of geometry and algebra. With mathematical questions, test-takers may be asked to work out equations or come up with the correct answer for a word problem that involves mathematics. Some mathematical questions are multiple choice, while others may be true-false questions.
Though mathematical and verbal IQ questions often rely on prior knowledge, other types of questions, such as logic problems, may deal more directly with how the individual test-taker's brain functions. Logic questions require a person to deduce the correct answer from a set of given circumstances. Some IQ tests may have specific logic questions, but may also use mathematical, verbal, or pattern-based questions to test logic as well as knowledge.
If a question asks for a person to imagine how a flattened object could be folded or rotated, it is determining the ability to understand spatial relationships. This type of cognitive ability is easy for some people, but may be very difficult for others. Spatial relationship questions are typically multiple choice, and require the test-taker to visualize the movement or alteration of objects in space.
The ability to identify patterns is another type of intelligence that may be measured through an IQ test. Pattern recognition IQ questions may ask the test-taker to correctly identify the next number or letter in a sequence or choose the next iteration for a moving or rotating object. Much like spatial relationships, pattern recognition is often an intuitive rather than knowledge-based form of intelligence, and may be naturally easy or difficult for some people.
Some IQ quizzes I've taken online don't even provide instructions for each section. You might see one "solved" example and then have to figure out the rule for the actual IQ test questions. I've been told that a real IQ test is much more involved than any online "IQ test".
Some of the questions I remember from an actual IQ test I took at school had to do with logic. They were questions like "All snorks are fleegles. Some fleegles are gleeps. Bill is a fleegle. Is he also a snork?" You have to draw a Venn diagram, at least in your mind, to determine if Bill can be in the fleegle circle but not in the snork circle. There were a lot of questions like that on the IQ test.
One thing I've noticed about many IQ tests is that they don't ask a lot of trivia questions. Real IQ test questions are more about the method the test taker uses to get the correct answers. You might run into an online IQ test that asks a lot of general knowledge questions, but it's really measuring recall ability more than native intelligence.
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