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What Is Considered a Normal IQ?

Leigia Rosales
Updated May 16, 2024
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An intelligence quotient, or IQ, is a numerical value assigned to an individual based on his or her performance on one or more standardized tests which are designed to determine or assess the person's inherent or genetic intelligence. The range for an IQ starts at zero and, in theory, has no upper limit, although the highest IQ scores ever recorded are around 200. Statistics show that approximately 95% of the population have IQ scores between 70 and 130, making a "normal IQ" 100.

Although there are an infinite number of tests that claim to test a person's IQ, there are a few that are widely used and recognized. The Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and Intelligence Scale for Children are just a few reputable tests used to determine whether someone has a normal IQ. Studies indicate that, although test scores may vary somewhat from one test to the other, scores tend to stay relatively constant regardless of the test taken.

In terms of what is considered a normal IQ, scientists have determined that 95% of all test takers score within two standard deviations of the mean. For purposes of an IQ test, one standard deviation is 15 points. The median score is set at 100, which means that the vast majority of all test takers score within 30 points on either side of the median — or between 70 and 130. Although 100 is the median, most experts consider a "normal IQ" to be anything within one to two deviations of the median, or in the 70 to 130 range.

When a test taker's IQ surpasses the normal IQ range, he or she is usually considered to be "gifted" or to have a "genius" IQ. Opinions differ with regard to where "normal" leaves off and "gifted" and "genius" begin. The general consensus, however, puts tests takers who score above 115 to 120 in the "gifted" category and those who score above 130 to 140 in the "genius" category.

Likewise, test takers who score below 70 are also considered to be outside the normal IQ range. An IQ score below 70 is considered to be a sign of mental retardation, or intellectual disability, by most experts. Many experts consider a score between 70 and 80 to be at the lower range, or borderline range, of intellectual functioning. Scores below 70 indicate mild to severe mental retardation, or the inability to function at a normal intellectual level.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Leigia Rosales
By Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers. Her ability to understand complex topics and communicate them effectively makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon993203 — On Oct 28, 2015

I received an IQ score of 147. Is that good?

By Phaedrus — On Mar 21, 2014

Buster29, my school did things a little differently. We all took the IQ tests over a three day period. We were called into an office individually and a teacher would show us our scores, but obviously no one else's. We were urged not to make a big deal out of the numbers, but of course some students felt like telling everyone their IQ scores.

I was told at the time that a "normal" IQ score was between 90 and 110. Anything between 110 and 150 was considered gifted, and scores over 150 were considered genius. I scored a 120 myself, but I already suspected I was above average because of the advanced classes I was taking. I think those ranges have changed in recent years, or people are now taking different IQ tests. 140 on one test is considered genius, so it helps to know which test you took in order to understand the scores.

By Buster29 — On Mar 20, 2014

When I took an IQ test back in middle school, they wouldn't let us know our scores. The idea was to keep those numbers hidden in our permanent records until we were old enough to request that information. A teacher told me that if we all knew our IQ scores, some students might get teased for having low numbers and others might start bragging about having high numbers. If there was a situation with a child's high or low IQ scores, the school administrators might have a discussion with that child's parents, but no one else.

Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales
Leigia Rosales is a former attorney turned freelance writer. With a law degree and a background in legal practice, she...
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