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    Standardized Tests

    IQ stands for intelligence quotient. IQ is a score derived from several standardized tests designed to assess intelligence. When new IQ tests are being developed, the median score is defined as IQ 100, and scores are either above or below the median. By this definition, approximately 95 percent of the population scores between 70 and 130.¹

    IQ scores have been shown to be associated with morbidity, morality, parental status, and biological parental IQ.² Hereditary IQ has been investigated for many years but there is still no definitive or scientific proof of a link between genetics and intelligence.²

    IQ scores are used as predictors of educational achievement, special needs, job performance, and income. Raw scores on IQ tests have been rising at an average rate that scales to three points per decade in a phenomenon called the Flynn Effect. The Flynn Effect influences low to moderate IQ scores with little or no effect on high IQ scores.³

    IQ can change over the course of childhood. Additionally, IQ testing has reported that IQ declines with age after the beginning of adulthood. It is unclear whether any lifestyle intervention can preserve intelligence into older ages.³

    Placement tests are used to assess the college readiness of students and place them into their initial classes. Since many United States two-year colleges have non-competitive and open admissions, placement tests are used to assign students to classes.

    The goal of placement tests is to offer students remedial coursework so that they can move to regular coursework. The most common tests given are College Board’s ACCUPLACER and ACT’s COMPASS. Both of these tests are online, computer-adaptive, multiple-choice tests. Some colleges add computer-scored essay writing tests in addition to the multiple-choice questions.

    Placement tests have also been used to inform instructors of a student’s potential for success, sorting students within a group, and introducing students to course materials. If students are not required to take placement tests, they tend to avoid them. If they are not required to take developmental courses, they will usually avoid them until they are forced to take them.

    Many students do not understand the importance of placement testing. Lack of preparation is one problem that students face. According to a study by Rosenbaum, Schuetz and Foran, roughly three quarters of students surveyed say that they did not prepare for the tests.




    1. Neisser, U (1997). Rising Scores on Intelligence Tests. American Scientist 85: 440-7.

    2. Deary, Ian J., Batty G, David (2007). Cognitive Epidemiology. J Epidemiol Community Health 61 (5): 378-384.

    3. Neisser, Ulric, ed. (1998). The Rising Curve: Long-Term Gains in IQ and Related Measures. APA Science Volume Series. Washington (DC): American Psychological Association.

    4. Conley, David. Replacing Remediation with Readiness. Prepared for the NCPR Developmental Education Conference: What Policies and Practices Work for Students? September 23-24, 2010, Teachers College, Columbia University, p. 12.

    5. Rosenbaum, James E., Schuetz, Pam and Foran, Amy. How students make college plans and ways schools and colleges could help.

    Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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