Rebecca Resnik, PsyD  
Bethesda, MD

Specialties: ADHD, dyslexia, developmental delays

Interests: Developmental Disabilities
MindWell Clinical Psychology
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Bethesda, MD
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Your Child’s IQ Score: How to Prepare for Your Child’s Intelligence Test

Sep 22, 2009 - 8 comments






Your Child’s IQ Score: How to Prepare for Your Child’s Intelligence Test

There are many reasons parents seek an evaluation of their child’s intellectual functioning, which we commonly call ‘IQ’ testing. Aside from an evaluation to diagnose learning problems, parents seek IQ testing for school admission or entry into a ‘gifted and talented’ program. No matter what the reason, having an IQ test done can be anxiety provoking for both parent and child. It is easy to lose perspective on what the IQ test actually does, and what the scores actually mean.

Across the world, people have broad interpretations of what it means to be intelligent. Many people interpret having a higher IQ with all sorts of positive outcomes, such as high achievement in school, prestigious careers, or upward mobility in society. Psychologists use IQ tests as tools to measure an abstract concept known as ‘G’, which may be broadly defined as the ability to solve problems. IQ tests typically assess abilities including: abstract reasoning, language functioning, processing speed, visual-spatial reasoning and a person’s knowledge base. How well a child does on various types of tasks shows a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that can be extremely useful in helping him succeed. It is important to note that an IQ test does not measure qualities such as talent, determination, or creativity. These latter qualities tend to be every bit as important in determining a person’s quality of life as his intelligence. Keep in mind that getting a number score from an IQ test does not change who he is or what he can do well.

There has been a recent surge in companies who sell IQ test ‘preparation’ to anxious parents. People sell materials taken from IQ tests, or sell ‘tutoring’ that they promise will raise children’s scores. These individuals exploit parent’s natural desire to do what is best for their children. What many parents do not know is that individuals are providing and illegal and unethical services. They are teaching children to cheat. IQ tests are kept highly confidential because they are critical tools in making diagnoses. Psychologists and Neuropsychologists need them to make important diagnoses such as learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, or to measure the impact of degenerative illnesses. That is why all IQ tests are copyrighted, making it illegal to expose the content.  Licensed psychologists are bound by an ethical code, as well as copyright laws, to protect the content of the tests. A psychologist who offers to ‘help’ your child score higher or share test materials should be reported to the state licensing board. Anyone who would act unethically or illegally is not someone you want interacting with your child. Unfortunately, there are unlicensed people who have access to IQ tests, so it is important to check credentials. Aside from the fact that these people are acting illegally, the services they provide are not likely to raise scores as their advertisements claim.

It may seem strange that IQ preparation would not be a good thing, since we encourage our children to study for tests all the time. IQ tests are different. They are designed to present people with unfamiliar types of problems to see how well they adapt. Consequently, even if a child has been exposed to the test materials or taught to practice similar types of problems, there is usually not a significant increase in the child’s scores. Even if a test preparations program did raise the scores a bit, the resulting IQ test data would be contaminated and useless. Some parents may feel it is worth a bit of cheating to get a child into a special school or program. They may believe that this will give their child the best opportunity. However, there are negative consequences of inflating a child’s scores. Placing a child in an academic program that is not a good match for him is not kindness. It makes no more sense than putting him in a super competitive soccer team if he did not have the ability to make the team on his own. If there is not a good match between the child and the program, the child is likely to be overwhelmed, and to feel bad about himself because he can to keep up with his friends.

So how should you help your child get ready for an IQ test? You should start during infancy by talking to him and playing with him. As he grows, consider each day a chance to learn something new. The sorts of activities that will truly prepare a child for IQ testing include: puzzles, reading, building blocks, solving riddles, going to museums, and enrichment classes (anything from art and computer classes to music lessons). Most products that promise to improve your child’s IQ are only entertainment. This includes baby videos that promise to make your little one smarter, ‘learning’ toys, television programs, and computer software. Research has shown that these are no substitute for the kinds of real-life activities that will foster your child’s problem solving abilities.

Finally, when you are ready to schedule the testing, prepare your child by lowering his stress level. Find a licensed psychologist who has a good reputation for ethical practice. Find someone who specializes in children, who can help your child feel comfortable during testing. Have the child tested on a weekday morning, when he is at his most alert. Do not be tempted to make an appointment in the afternoon, evening, or on the weekend. These are times when your child has less energy. Avoid offering your child a reward or prize for earning a certain score. If a child is worrying about not getting a prize or disappointing you, he can not concentrate on the test. A good night sleep and a healthy breakfast have a big impact on test performance. Finally, relax. If you are worried about the test, you will only make your child nervous. Praise his effort (IQ tests are tiring!) and take him out to lunch afterward for a job well done.

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by sunshine1976, Sep 22, 2009
My son if 5 and our school, Therapist and psychologist all want his IQ checked.  He has just been diagnosed in the Autistic Spectrum, ADD and ODD.  I guess they want this as back-up he should be kept in his classes and not moved to special ed.  He is keeping up with the academic side of the class has been assigned an adult helper to keep him focused and only struggles with the social side and answering questions out loud in a group.  Why should an IQ test matter if academicly he is doing fine?

by iamrachelle, Sep 23, 2009
Not sure what school district you are in, I am from Minneapolis and actually work in Special Education Monitoring and Compliance.  You have every right as a parent to say NO to this test.  They should have all the information they need based on the diagnoses you listed, as I assume you gave them copies of the evaluation reports.  
Although, I will tell you it is pretty standard in the school systems to have IQ testing done at three-year comprehensive evaluations.  If you don't want this IQ test done now and they send it in written proposal, you have the right to have all of the other testing done, except the IQ test.  It is totally up to you and should not affect his special education status/rights.  My son also has autism, he is now 16 years old.  We recently had an IQ test done he scored at 115.  So, what does that mean?  Absolutely nothing to me.  I want to make sure he is passing classes along with his same age peers, and getting along socially with same age peers.  My goal for him is not to have a big IQ score.  Hope this helps.  Please just remember at every renewal of his special education plan (usually yearly), you have the right as a parent to make changes to anything in that document (i.e., the way things are worded, things you want included in plan that are not, things you would like removed, requesting service minutes be increased, as he is not reaching goals).  Also, make sure his goals are WHAT YOU want as a parent as well.  Some case managers just do a fly-by-night education plan that could really be handed out to any student and is not INDIVIDUALIZED.  Good luck.

by supermum_ms, Sep 23, 2009
It always amazed me how parents and teachers from my sons school (old) reacted to my son being gifted, highly so, see the problem began when he had a much needed IQ test and he came out too gifted, they were fine when he had been dx with Asperger Syndrome but everything changed when his scores put him into the high end of gifted. Over night their attitude changed dramatically, this was the same child who shocked adults by his intelligence, but it was cute, not threatening because he was an ASD kid, they thought it meant nothing, you know like his intelligence wasn't real because he wasn't like 'normal' kids.

For him it was important to get his intelligence recognised, he was desperate, board by school, intensley frustrated, he would say he felt like he was loosing his mind and they dont care its all too easy. I stupidly thought school would educate him, he was obviously bright, little did I know he'd spent 6 years at school pratically teaching him self, apparently it was easier to let him read than try and get him to participate in what the other kids were doing, especially if he didnt want to. He would enter himself into national math, science and english competitions and he would get the destinctions but it still meant nothing because he was ASD. I can think of nothing else to explain why his teacher was encouraging a parent who's child got a similar score on a math test, encouraging them to attempt a scholarship placement and when she saw me, bluntly stated oh i wouldn't bother trying to get your son a scholarship, nice hay.  

You sometimes need the score to get the help your child needs, high or low, some schools do the right thing and others dont, for my son he was trapped at his old schools attitude towards their expectations of ASD kids. His new school skipped him in to secondary and gave him a full scholarship, he has friends, he's happy and now wanting to go to school, he's still board by the school work but at least he no longer feels like he is loosing his mind.

Oh, he is still the same child he was before we knew his score!!!

by Rebecca Resnik, PsyDBlank, Sep 23, 2009
Hi Sunshine 1976,
   any evaluation, such as the one done to diagnose those disorders you listed, should have included formal testing with an IQ test. I have no colleagues in psychology who would consider making those diagnoses without doing a basic IQ test, even if there is no question that the child is not intellectually disabled. It would be like getting a physical without the doctor doing any blood work. I too would have suggested a thorough evaluation so that you can learn about your son's strengths and weaknesses, determine eligibility for special services, select accommodations, and choose effective instructional or medical interventions. You will want to know more as time goes by about where his intellectual functioning lies so that you can tell if he is making acceptable progress or falling behind. Knowledge is power when you are advocating for a child with disabilities.

That's great that he does not have any academic difficulties yet, and that he is able to manage without an IEP. Good luck to you and your son


by swampcritter, Sep 23, 2009
IQ does seem a reasonable predictor of ultimate academic success, however all kids need to learn that success is 98% perspiration. Its just as much a mistake for a child to think he is really smart as the opposite.

The abstractness of IQ as a measurement makes it more strategic and less tactical. What do you need for your child to get through kindergarten? First grade? Pass the next test? Concentrate on homework?

One thing to keep in mind is that IQ is to some extent a function of human contact time. That is why a first child generally has a higher IQ than the second. The first child has a year or two where they are the only one.

by 602babyj, Dec 04, 2010
my son is 5 years old he's in kindergarten  he knows all his times tables he doesn't forget anything he sees he can count to 100 in a couple different languages  English,Japanese  he knows the correct way to say any number  for example 7,243,656,304 he would say 7 billion two hundred forty three million six hundred fifty six thousand three hundred and four its easy for him to count by any number he just has to see it one time and its stored in his mind   he knows his ABC in sign language but i have a question he doesn't hold to long of conversation  but is getting better since hes been around other kids his age at school but i was was wondering does this have anything to do with him being  premature at birth if anyone can help                  babyj.***@****

by MarcRPh, Jan 07, 2011
Actually 602babyj...the end of that number, 7,243,656,304, is three hundred four, not three hundred AND four. In 7th grade, on a verbal math test, I threw in the "and" and verbally got the answer wrong, costing me the class championship. I was only 12 years old, but I have never forgotten that incident. When you state "and four", you have entirely created a whole new number. Pass this info on to your child, and he will truly impress his math teachers from here on out...

by Raymond_J_Ritchie, Mar 03, 2013
I am a first generation university graduate and PhD.  My official IQ is 70 because I deliberately threw all the IQ test I was given.  One at 10, 12 and 2 in highschool.  At school I was never harassed about not working hard enough, those that were foolish enough to score well in IQ tests were harassed continuously.
Confidentiality of IQ test results?  What ********!  They are an open secret.
My PhD is in membrane biophysics but a colleague of mine with a PhD in chemistry glories in an official IQ of 56.
IQ Tests are undeniably a medical procedure.  Parents should only consent to them in writing and I recommend that they do not.

Dr Raymond J. RITCHIE (BSc (Hons), PhD Sydney)

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