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Yes you can increase your IQ. Here's how

by Tina Sendin 5 min read

Yes you can increase your IQ. Here's how

What does it take to be a genius? 

Before one can identify themselves with Albert Einstein’s of the world, they’ll have to get their IQ or Intelligence Quotient first. That’s the only time they can get their certified genius badge.

Mensa International, the largest and oldest society of high IQ individuals, defines IQ as: [1]

a type of standard score that indicates how far above, or how far below, his/her peer group an individual stands in mental ability. The peer group score is an IQ of 100; this is obtained by applying the same test to huge numbers of people from all socio-economic strata of society, and taking the average.

Before you can become part of MENSA, you’d have to get an IQ score that’s in the top 2% of the world population. [2] Depending on the test taken, this means your IQ should be 132 from the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale or 148 from Cattell.

If your score is somewhere below either, don’t fret. The good news is, IQ can be improved. Now just to manage your expectations, I’m not saying that you can increase your IQ to genius status. But scientific studies have shown that you can definitely level up intelligence through science-based practice and techniques.


You can raise your IQ: what science says 

There are several studies done that have proven the fact that IQ can change over time. In fact, verbal and non-verbal intelligence can significantly change.  

  • A 2011 study titled “Verbal and non-verbal intelligence changes in the teenage brain“ published in the journal Nature tracked 33 adolescents for four years. The results from IQ tests given in this period changed dramatically. The study showed fluctuations by 20-plus IQ points, in both verbal and non-verbal intelligence among 12-16-year-old teens.  [3, 4
  • A scientific paper published in 2016 on the journal Learning and Individual Differences showed that “significant increases in general intelligence, of 28 points on average” can be achieved through online skills training. The same paper also concluded that by enhancing relational skills, “significant increases in verbal, numerical and educational aptitude” can be produced. [5, 6]


You can raise your IQ: what experts say 

LiveScience interviewed experts on this topic, and many of them confirmed that you can indeed raise your IQ. [7

IQ score can increase over decades.

According to Richard Nisbett, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan:

The average IQ of people is changing over time. Basically, people are gaining in modern industrialized societies. IQs are increasing three points per decade. In fact, there was an 18-point increase between 1947 and 2002. So the average IQ of a 20-year-old in 1947 was lower than the average IQ of a 20-year-old in 2002. 


IQ may change, but how much fluctuations depend on the type of intelligence.

Kevin McGrew, director of the Institute for Applied Psychometrics and visiting professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota, believes that psychometric intelligence – or measured IQ score – can change depending on different “mixtures of abilities”:

Individuals can change IQ scores. Your score may change not because of any real change in general intelligence, but that different tests may be used which measure different mixtures of abilities.

Also, some abilities (e.g., fluid reasoning and crystallized intelligence, or verbal abilities) are more stable over time, while others are less stable (e.g., short-term memory and cognitive processing speed).

You may have a certain level of general intelligence but it is important how you use it.  When you approach a task, how well do you plan? How well do you adjust your response if it's not going well? These non-cognitive traits can be improved more easily than cognitive abilities. 


7 ways to improve your IQ

Now that you know that IQ can really get better, here are 7 things you can do to tap into your inner Natalie Portman (her IQ is said to be 140):


1. Don’t tire of learning.

Growth mindset goes a long way. According to the Harvard Business Review article, “What Having a ‘Growth Mindset’ Actually Means:” 

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

Go ahead and be a student of life! Read a book a week. In fact, successful CEOs do this, including Bill Gates who reads 50 books a year.


2. Learn how to play a musical instrument.

Apparently, this is the equivalent of a full-body workout for your brain, as seen in fMRI scans. It fires up that part of your brain responsible for math and spatial reasoning skills.

And according to a study from the University of Zurich, mastering a musical instrument can significantly increase the IQ of a person, regardless of age. It can jump to as high as 7 points and more. [8]

So why don’t you allot at least half an hour a day to finally learn Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major on your grandma’s grand piano?


3. Learn a new language.

It’s not so difficult to learn a new language these days. Just go on Google Play or Apple Store and you’ll see several apps that will teach you Spanish or French. According to a 2012 study, learning a foreign language grow the language-related areas of the brain. [9] This activity requires you to perform brain functions like applying complex rules (i.e. grammar), reading and problem-solving.


4. Improve relational skills.

As one of the studies earlier mentioned, improving relational skills can lead to higher IQ scores. Relational skills refer to “understanding of a handful of mathematical relationships between concepts or objects such as things are the same as other things, more or less than other things, opposite to other things, and so on.” [10]


5. Keep playing brain games.

One way to improve your working memory? Keep doing puzzles, Sudoku, chess, and any 20-minute games that challenge your brain. They’re not just productive way of passing time, they also practice brain functions like logic and problem-solving. A study done in Venezuela showed a significant increase in IQ among children who took chess classes for 14 weeks. Likewise, a 2003 study from Flinders University in Australia showed a rise in IQ levels among participants who played chess. [11]


6. Get enough snooze time.

Sleep is our brain’s chance to reinvigorate cells and get it all ready for the next day. Without enough sleep, our brain doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to. A study from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre showed that every hour you skip sleeping will rob you of a full IQ point.  And that losing a couple of hours of sleep every night can bring down someone’s average IQ to a level that’s considered “borderline retarded.” [12]

Having trouble sleeping? Then here are a few articles that can give you life hacks and some better-quality snooze:


7. Go for caffeine memory.

Caffeine has been proven to improve cognitive functions. In fact, here are 8 ways caffeine affects your concentration and mental performance. Studies have proven that people who have their regular caffeine fix are able to concentrate better, remember things easily and accurately, and are able to get a handle on stressful situations more effectively.



[1] https://www.mensa.org/iq/what-iq

[2] https://www.mensa.org/mensa/about-us

[3] https://www.nature.com/articles/nature10514

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/memory-medic/201805/no-your-iq-is-not-constant

[5] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1041608016300231

[6] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/iq-boot-camp/201605/new-evidence-iq-can-be-increased-brain-training

[7] https://www.livescience.com/36143-iq-change-time.html

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2948283/

[9] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811912006581?via%3Dihub

[10] https://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/this-how-you-can-raise-your-and-improve-your-memory.html

[11] https://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/7-scientifically-backed-ways-to-boost-your-iq-in-30-days-or-less.html

[12] http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/too-little-sleep-lowers-iq-report-1.168864

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