What Is Different about an IQ Test for Kids?

Renee Booker

A person's genetic intelligence abilities can be diagnosed using an intelligence quotient (IQ) test. IQ tests have also been developed for use with children as young as three years old. While a person's IQ is not believed to change substantially from childhood through adulthood, the tests used to determine an IQ are different depending on the age of the subject. An IQ test for kids, for example, is designed to measure what a normal child at that age would be capable of understanding.

Children with high IQs may be placed in more advanced classes in school.
Children with high IQs may be placed in more advanced classes in school.

Although there are a number of tests that claim to measure intelligence in children, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children are well-respected tests. As a rule, an IQ test for kids focuses on age-appropriate activities, such as matching a picture to one previously viewed, creating a shape out of smaller shapes, or completing a story. Each of the well-known IQ tests for children has between 15 and 18 subsets that are tested on each child to determine an overall IQ score.

Parents may use IQ tests to recognize learning disabilities that their child may have.
Parents may use IQ tests to recognize learning disabilities that their child may have.

In general, an IQ test for kids, when administered properly, is thought to be highly accurate. If the test is administered correctly, a child's IQ should not fluctuate substantially from one test to another. In addition, studies have shown that, in most cases, an person's IQ does not change substantially over his or her lifetime, making a childhood assessment a valuable tool.

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Educational systems and parents frequently use an IQ test for kids as a basic measurement tool, or to specifically diagnose learning disabilities or exceptional abilities. Often, IQ test for kids are used to place a child in a "gifted" or an "academically-challenged" class in school. Most school systems require a child to test at a certain IQ level, among other criteria, in order to be placed in an "advanced or "gifted" classroom in grade school or middle school. By the same token, if a child is struggling in a regular classroom, an IQ test may be used to determine that the child needs to be in a classroom for children who need extra attention.

Parents may also use an IQ test for kids to help recognize learning disabilities or problem areas with their children. Although sometimes used to diagnose conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), experts disagree as to whether an IQ test is a useful or appropriate tool for diagnosing learning disabilities. If a parent suspects a learning disability, while an IQ test may be a useful clinical tool, it is best to consult with an expert before reaching any conclusions.

Mathematical reasoning is measured by an IQ test.
Mathematical reasoning is measured by an IQ test.

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Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - Both of those examples would also be solved if the teacher and the parents just treated all their children as individual people, rather than more or less deserving depending on their IQ.

Proving to a teacher that a child is gifted isn't going to do much if they were incapable of seeing that on their own.


@pleonasm - I don't think aptitude tests for kids should be routine, but I do think they have a time and a place. If a child is being let down by their teacher, then their parents have a right to know and one way in which they can prove this kind of mismanagement is to show the results of an IQ test that don't match the results the child is getting in class.

Honestly, it can even be good if a child gets a lower score than the parents expect, because they might not put as much pressure on the kid anymore to do better than they are capable of.


I really hate that people will try to measure a child's IQ from such a young age. I don't even think IQ tests for adults are all that useful, but at least the adult can choose whether or not to take them and disclose the results to others.

If you give your child an IQ test, no matter what it comes up as, you are going to treat them differently. Maybe they were smarter than you expected. Maybe not so smart. Either way, it can justify behavior that shouldn't be used on kids.

And those free IQ tests for kids that you can find online are even worse, because they are even less accurate than the ones administered by professionals.

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