How to improve your IQ test score

IQ test results are consistent – old-fashioned approach

IThere are many brain training apps and websites, including Lumosity , that claim to train your brain and potentially improve your IQ. If you want to know how to increase your IQ, you might have read another article on this site – Does IQ Matter? Do programs like Lumosity work?

A high IQ is a valuable property with many benefits, including general happiness, health, and economic benefits. Not surprisingly, the question of whether IQ matters has been a fundamental question of both theoretical and practical interest. Can the human cognitive capacity that enables learning, memory, thinking and performance be enhanced in adults?

Previously, it was thought that the combination of genetic factors and early childhood environmental factors determined an individual’s cognitive ability and level of intelligence throughout life. As stated in the Definition of Intelligence and Does IQ Matter? from our site, standardized intelligence quotient (IQ) scores predict performance on a wide range of cognitive tasks as well as work-life achievements. So IQ scores are often used as a measure of a person’s cognitive abilities.

Previous studies have shown that IQ scores measured in childhood correlate closely with IQ scores tested in late adulthood. A study based on the Scottish Mental Surveys showed a correlation of 0.77 for IQ test from ages 11 to 77 in a longitudinal study. 

These results suggest that the main variation in general cognitive abilities between individuals is determined by late childhood or early adolescence. The correlation was found to be particularly strong for fluid intelligence compared to crystallized intelligence. This is because the results of crystallized intelligence tests can be improved, for example, by learning vocabulary. The results also emphasized the fixed nature of fluid intelligence. 

IQ test scores can be improved by working memory exercises

Preliminary results indicate that working memory training in adults may increase IQ. In recent times, evidence has emerged demonstrating some plasticity of IQ and its neural bases. Verbal IQ scores and performance mostly showed fluctuations during adolescence rather than remaining static. 

It was in 2008 that Jaeggi and his colleagues published their groundbreaking results which indicate that adults’ fluid intelligence and IQ can be improved by a specific cognitive training program. [6] In the study, young adults did working memory exercises for about 25 minutes a day for up to 19 days. The training method used was the “Dual-N-Back” game.

In the Dual N-Back game , a participant simultaneously hears letters and sees spatial positions one after another. The challenge is to react whenever a presented stimulus was the same as a few tries ago. For example, in a double 2-back game, subjects respond when the current spatial location or auditory stimulus matches those of the previous two trials. An example of similar games can be found on Lumosity and others.

The training rapidly improved performance on the trained working memory task, but it also increased fluid intelligence post-training (study focused on fluid intelligence they did not test IQ score). However, this seems to indicate that this is a way to increase IQ.

This was the first time that a learned skill participated in the growth of fluid intelligence (prediction of IQ increase), as IQ and fluid intelligence were previously considered static. Improvement in fluid intelligence was found to be proportional to training time. Because higher fluid intelligence means higher IQ test with superior performance on many cognitive tasks, these results offer startling possibilities.

The figure below shows the improvement in performance during training sessions from a study in which the results of Jaeggi et al could not be replicated. 

IQ test scores can be improved by working memory training

A meta-analysis in 2014 confirms the results

Since 2008, numerous studies have been performed to determine the effectiveness of working memory training and attention control on fluid intelligence and IQ. Some of the studies could not confirm the positive effects of Jaeggi et al, and the concept of working memory training was met with some skepticism.

Meta-analyses provide the most reliable data and high-quality scientific evidence since they combine the results of multiple previous studies. A 2014 meta-analysis of n-back training and fluid intelligence as an outcome measure found a significant positive effect of working memory training on fluid intelligence. 

The meta-analysis included studies with a control group and healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 50. N-back training has been found to have a statistically significant net effect on fluid intelligence that equates to 3-4 points on a standardized IQ test. Interestingly, the net positive effect may be even greater when the researchers conclude:

Childhood working memory training improves IQ

As working memory training has been shown to be effective in increasing IQ in adults, there has been interest in using the same method in childhood, which is a phase of rapid development in many respects.

An n-back training study with preschool participants whose active group completed a 14-day n-back program showed that the active group performed better than the control group in tests of fluid intelligence over a 12-month follow-up period. The results indicate that brief early childhood interventions can permanently improve fluid intelligence as well as performance on standardized IQ tests. 

Simple Instructions to Increase IQ Test Score

Before you start training to improve your IQ, make sure you have a reliable estimate of your starting IQ. If needed, get an IQ test score with a reliable online test or by participating in the Mensa test. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, sleeping well, exercising regularly, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking. For more information, see our How to Improve Memory Naturally page. Begin an n-back training period of 1-3 months or even longer. Remember that the increase in fluid intelligence and IQ is proportional to the amount of training.

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