Myth buster: Am I stuck with the same IQ all my life? NO!

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Many people think of IQ as a genetic trait like eye color, something you’re born with and stuck with for life…..? But mounting evidence is shedding a different light.
A growing body of research is showing that a person’s IQ can rise—and even fall—over the years and through an individual’s lifetime.

IQ or intelligence quotient is a score that is supposed to quantify your level of intelligence. I read that what defines intelligence is still up for debate – that a predetermined IQ isn’t necessarily an accurate measurement. But it has been long assumed that our scores do not change; that we are stuck with the intelligence we were born with. Well, it is not true.

“[Some] assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism.”
– Alfred Binet, inventor of the original IQ test, 1909


Fola (name changed) is a child I have taught for 2 years. She has always been  a ‘weak’ student. She found it quite difficult to assimilate lessons taught across all subjects. All teachers had the same to say about her situation. Upon enquiry, I discovered that she wasn’t followed up and made to study as much as she should have, because her grades had been consistently low. She definitely needed more lesson time. After a whole session had passed, changes were made to study habits and we saw a significantly higher percentage of improvement. One that made her not to re-do the year again.

One study shows changes in IQ after just a few weeks of effort. 33 British students were given IQ tests and brain scans at ages 12 – 16 and again about 4 years later, 9% of the students showed a significant change of 15 points or more in IQ scores. These changes were not due to measuring errors because the MRI’s showed changes in gray matter which is linked to IQ. Am I surprised? No! We, the teachers see improvements daily especially when extra efforts are put in.


It was found that people with a lower IQ (between 75-90 range) are usually at a risk of dropping out of secondary school while those with a higher IQ possibly attain higher social intelligence.  There is a need to help the ‘weaker’ kids to improve scores AND those who are average can be supported to also achieve higher scores. Nigeria is in dire need for a lot more intellectuals in many fields of interest; so we have to ‘up’ our efforts to reduce student dropout ratios and produce more graduands.

We are not stuck with any level of IQ! Since IQ can change, there seems to be no harm in helping your child to boost their scores through changes in study patten and improved practice time. Being branded with a low IQ at a young age, in other words, is like being born poor. Due to family circumstances and the mechanisms of society, most people born poor will remain poor throughout their lives. But that doesn’t mean anyone is *innately* poor or destined to be poor; there is always potential for any poor person to become rich. 


The exciting reality is that IQ scores:
  • measure developed skills, not native intelligence.
  • can change dramatically.
  • say nothing about a person’s intellectual limits.

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One Comment

  1. This is good news. So I wasn’t as dum as some of my teachers made it to seem. I know that all I needed was a little more push and encouragement.

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