Intelligence test

An intelligence test is a measure of a person’s intellectual abilities, including the ability to learn, adapt, understand and implement knowledge. Intelligence tests are sometimes referred to as IQ-tests and are frequently misconstrued as simple measures of a person’s IQ-score. While intelligence tests employed by professionals do produce a measure of overall intellectual ability (IQ), they also encompass measures of several subdomains of cognitive functioning. This allows for a much more robust measure of the true IQ-score as well as an analysis of the person’s intelligence profile, including intra-individual and normative strengths and weaknesses.

There are a number of different intelligence tests that differ significantly with regards to the depth of the assessment, target age group as well as which specific aspects of intelligence are measured. On this page, you can learn more about what intelligence testing is and encompasses, about the different types and about the potential applications of the results. We offer intelligence testing in English in our offices at Frederiksberg, Helsingør and Aarhus with short notice.

Are you interested in getting an intelligence test, or do you have any questions about psychological testing? Feel free to contact us for an appointment, or let us call you.

What is intelligence and intelligence testing?

Human intelligence can be described as the ability to learn from experience, adapt appropriately to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts as well as use knowledge in order to effectively interact with the surrounding environment. At this time, the most widely used definition of intelligence is that of Charles Spearman, who concluded that there is a common factor underlying a person’s ability to function across all intellectual activities. This factor is frequently referred to simply as the g-factor. Spearman believed that this basic component of intelligence is vital to a person’s ability to cope in a community and to complete and education or hold a demanding job.

We now know that although there are strong correlations between a person’s cognitive abilities across different fields, it is quite normal to present strengths and weaknesses in specific areas. Hence, some scientists have argued that there are several types of intelligence and this view has been incorporated in modern intelligence tests to some extent. Today, most official intelligence tests both estimate an overall score to represent the general level of intellectual functioning as well as scores for several underlying subcomponents of intelligence.

The overall score is most often referred to as the intelligence quotient (IQ). The IQ expresses a person’s overall cognitive prerequisites for learning and problem-solving compared to the average score as seen in a population of equivalent gender and age. The IQ-score is the best single estimate for such measures, and thus also for the person’s general intellectual prerequisites for succeeding in contexts within society where these functions are required. Of these contexts, work and education are often the most relevant areas, and research has shown a strong correlation between intelligence as measured by an intelligence test and educational level and success in working life.

The populational average intelligence is represented by an IQ-score of 100, while results above 115 or below 85 denote respectively higher or lower than average intelligence. However, the actual IQ-score estimated by an intelligence test is merely an indication for the person’s general cognitive abilities and is therefore not helpful in describing the types of training, education or job functions that would most likely be suitable for the person in question.

As such, two people with the same intelligence score (IQ) will not necessarily display equal abilities when it comes to more specific cases of learning and problem-solving. One might be particularly good at solving practical and visual tasks but rather poor at solving linguistic tasks; such as essay-writing or learning foreign languages. Another might be extraordinarily quick to solve new and unfamiliar tasks that require abstract reasoning while less equipped to solve repetitive tasks. A person’s abilities in such areas may vary independently of the overall IQ and each person will show different abilities in different areas.

By also measuring the intelligence with attention to performance in specific areas, it is possible to gauge individual intellectual abilities and weaknesses. This knowledge may, in turn, inform crucial decisions such as choice of education, career path or choice of the most suitable candidate for a given position. It can also indicate areas in which the person has particular strengths to be utilized or weaknesses to be compensated for.

Intelligence testing in practice

Most official intelligence tests consist of several tasks for the person to solve. Typically, the tasks are to be completed without help or guidance in a controlled environment and in a limited amount of time. Depending on the test, the tasks may be solved on paper as goes for linguistic, mathematical or geometrical problems, or they may need to be solved using other means, such as blocks, puzzles or the like. An intelligence test is often divided into sub-tests, each measuring a different aspect of the intellectual ability.

The test is carried out according to its specified framework and upon completion, an expert will calculate the result. The results of the intelligence test may then be presented as either a so-called attestation or as a report. An attestation contains the overall test results as well as clinical observations. A report will be more thorough and, in addition to the above, also include a detailed analysis of the results as well as personal recommendations. These include indications of personal strengths and weaknesses in learning, problem-solving, working life or other relevant areas. 

What is the purpose of an intelligence test?

An intelligence test or an ability test has several applications. An intelligence test may be performed out of mere interest and may be a valuable tool to gain insight into personal intellectual strengths and weaknesses in learning, information processing, memory, visuo-spatial skills and problem-solving abilities. An intelligence test enables the individual to understand how to optimally adapt the school or working environment to obtain the best possible performance. At the same time, one may gain valuable insight into factors that are relevant when choosing an education or career.

On the other hand, an official intelligence test is a requirement for admission to certain organizations such as Mensa and is also relevant when applying for certain private schools or adoption from abroad, for example. Furthermore, intelligence testing is often used in case of neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism and ADHD. In such cases, a profile of individual abilities may be relevant to support the diagnostic hypotheses or to exclude specific problems as the cause of the behavioral symptoms.

Types of intelligence tests

There are a variety of intelligence tests for adults and each measure intelligence from a different perspective. Here at Psykologerne Johansen and Kristoffersen, we offer the following assessments:

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV): Used in general assessment of intelligence and cognitive functions in adolescents and adults aged 16-90 years.
  • Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS): Used to assess verbal and non-verbal intelligence such as memory in an age group of 3-94 years old.
  • Leiter International Performance Scale-3 (LEITER-3): Used in assessing cognitive functioning in non-verbal intelligence, especially concerning people speaking foreign languages, with deafness or with linguistic difficulties.
  • Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM): A series of non-verbal intelligence tests used for assessing the general intelligence in individuals aged 8-65.
Intelligence tests for adultsIntelligence tests for chilren and adolescents

There are also various intelligence tests tailored for children specifically. These, too, measure intelligence from different perspectives. At Psykologerne Johansen and Kristoffersen we work with:

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV): Used for assessment of cognitive function in children and adolescents aged 6-16 years.
  • WISC-V: A revised version of WISC, this test is used for assessing the cognitive abilities in children and adolescents aged 6-16 years on five different parameters.
  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV): Used in assessment of cognitive functions and problem-solving skills in children aged 2-7 years.
  • Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS): Used to assess verbal and non-verbal intelligence and memory in individuals aged 3-94 years.
  • Leiter International Performance Scale-3 (LEITER-3): Used in assessing general cognitive functioning, in individual that require non-verbal testing. The LEITER-3 is particularly useful for people speaking foreign languages, with deafness or with linguistic difficulties.
  • Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM): A series of non-verbal intelligence tests for assessing the general intelligence in individuals aged 8-65.