Can You Improve Your IQ Score With Practice?

Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

The evidence suggests that it is possible to improve IQ scores through various practices. Nutritional supplementation, cognitive training, music education, creative problem-solving, and relational frame skills training are all methods that have shown promise in increasing IQ. The underlying mechanisms involve neuroplasticity, enhanced information processing, and the development of adaptive learning strategies. While the degree of improvement may vary, these methods offer a potential for cognitive enhancement, especially when applied during the formative years of education.


Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a measure of a person’s cognitive abilities and potential. It has been a subject of interest whether IQ can be improved with practice. Recent research has explored various methods that may influence IQ scores and cognitive function.

Methods to Increase IQ

Dietary Supplementation

Nutritional deficiencies can hinder cognitive development and function. Studies have shown that supplementing a deficient child’s diet with multivitamins or iodine can lead to an increase in IQ1. This suggests that ensuring adequate nutrition is a foundational step in supporting cognitive abilities.

Cognitive Training

SMART training, a behavior-analytic intervention, has been shown to raise general intelligence by training crucial cognitive skills known as relational skills. This method has demonstrated significant improvements in IQ scores among secondary school students2.

Music Education

Learning to play a musical instrument has been associated with increases in full-scale IQ. This effect is not limited to specific IQ subtests but generalizes across various cognitive domains3.

Creative Problem-Solving Training

Training in creative problem-solving has been reported to lead to substantial increases in IQ. An experiment revisiting Kvashchev’s work found that after three years of intensive training, participants showed an average increase of 15 IQ points4.

Relational Frame Skills Training

Teaching children to understand various relations among stimuli, such as Same, Opposite, More, and Less, has been correlated with significant increases in full-scale IQ and improvements in verbal and numerical reasoning5.

Mechanisms of Action

Neuroplasticity and Cognitive Development

The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, known as neuroplasticity, is a key factor in cognitive development. Interventions like music lessons and problem-solving training likely stimulate this plasticity, leading to improved cognitive functions3 4.

Enhanced Information Processing

Certain cognitive training programs may enhance the brain’s information processing speed, which is closely related to general intelligence. Improved reaction times and decision-making processes are indicative of this enhanced mental efficiency9.

Educational Exposure

The rising mean IQ over the past century has been attributed to increased access to formal schooling and the cognitive demands of modern education, particularly in mathematics. This exposure likely stimulates the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with complex cognitive behavior and decision making8.

Adaptive Learning Strategies

Higher IQ individuals have been observed to use more adaptive learning strategies, particularly when receiving positive feedback. This suggests that IQ may influence the ability to adjust one’s behavior based on feedback, a critical aspect of learning7.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Ian Silver has answered Uncertain

An expert from University of Cincinnati in Intelligence, Behavioural Science, Social Sciences

IQ – or intelligence – scores generally represent a composite score across a variety of different traits (e.g., problem solving, verbal reasoning, logic). While scores on an IQ test can vary, the underlying traits tend to be developed early on in the life-course and remain relatively stable over time. This is not to say that intelligence can’t change, but it requires a concerted amount of effort to improve the underlying traits simultaneously. Most practice modalities, such as the phone applications or online courses, will not increase IQ scores or intelligence generally. Research, however, has shown that some medical (e.g., fish oil) or environmental (e.g., educational courses) can improve simultaneously improve the underlying traits in the short term and potentially increase IQ scores.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Andreas Demetriou has answered Likely

An expert from University of Nicosia in Intelligence

According to the Flynn effect, IQ improved over 20th century by about 20-25 IQ degrees. IQ training studies show that IQ improves because of training by up to 8-10 degrees. The problem is that most of it fades out in 2-3 years after the end of the study.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Nachshon Meiran has answered Likely

An expert from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Intelligence

This is a tricky question: You can improve your score on the test, but will it improve your intelligence? not sure at all. In the training literature, we make a distinction between training effects (seen as improved performance in the trained task), near-transfer effects (see in improvement in an untrained task that closely resembles the trained task), and far transfer effects (see in improvement in an untrained task that does not superficially resemble the trained task, but theoretically measures the same thing, such as ‘intelligence’). Far transfer effects are rare, tend not to replicate across studies and so forth.

To complicate things even further, it is not at all clear if intelligence as the underlying cause for success in a wide variety of tasks truly exists, and some new theories (mutualism, and process-overlap) actually suggest it does not. So, if something (intelligence) does not exist, it certainly cannot be trained.

I hope I did not confuse you too much, but in a nutshell, don’t waste your money and time on intelligence improvement. Use them to learn new things, for fun, etc. If you have extra money that you have nothing to do with- I have a list of much more urgent needs.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Hynek Cígler has answered Unlikely

An expert from Masaryk University in Psychology, Quantitative Psychology, Psychometrics, Intelligence

Practicing IQ tests will improve scores obtained in such tests as you become a better “test-taker”. However, an impact on your actual intelligence will be negligible. On the other hand, some “kinds” of intelligence are connected to learning and practicing. Training of such skills could lead to better development, especially at a younger age. Thought, this relationship is not straightforward.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Dimitri van der Linden has answered Uncertain

An expert from Erasmus University Rotterdam in Psychology

The question is a bit ambiguous because it seems to contain two possible questions. Namely whether one can enhance IQ scores by practice, and also (more implicit) whether one can enhance intelligence by practice.

 General remarks

Before going into it, one topic needs to be addressed: the relationship between general intelligence and IQ score. Intelligence refers to how intelligence a person really is (e.g., is able to solve novel problems). IQ score is the score one obtains on a test that is used to measure intelligence.

Overall, (at the large group level) IQ tests are a relatively good measures of general intelligence. That is, IQ scores of people can predict success in many life domains such as occupational achievements, health, and social relationships. IQ scores, in general, are among the best predictors of behavior in Psychological research.

  1. The interpretation of the question as related to the scores on IQ tests

Now, if one would extensively practice on IQ test, one imagine, however, that it is possible to improve one’s score considerable. For example, items in IQ test work according to certain principles and if one practices enough items then some items in the real test will be easier because one has already seen something similar (or identical). In this way one’s score possible score can go up substantially, say from 100 to, maybe 115 or higher.

The increase would be even more extreme if one practice on the actual test that one has to do. In principle, in that case one could memorize all the answers on the items and get a perfect score. I guess this latter situation is more cheating.

 The subsequent question, of course, would be: Does that make IQ test useless? The answer to that is question: no, not at all. Although it is possible to enhance one’s score by practice, or even cheat, overall the IQ test still remain good predictors.

As a comparison it is good to know that, if one really wants to, one can enhance or manipulate one’s score on almost every test or self-report measure in Psychological research. That, however, also does not mean that almost every measure in psychological research is useless. And remember that among all psychological measures, IQ or intelligence test are still one of the best predictors of a wide range of behaviors.

  1. The interpretation of the question as related to one’s actual general intelligence

The second interpretation of the question would be whether practice makes one really smarter (more intelligent). This question is similar to the one previously asked on this site (‘Is it possible to boost your intelligence by training?’ ). Regarding this, I agree with most experts who responded to that question: It seems quite unlikely that general intelligence increases by training. Training can make you better at specific tasks (for example, chess, computer programming, maths etc,) and some of that training may transfer to other task that have similar elements. So, after training you became a better chess player, better programmer, or better at doing maths. But you, probably did not become more intelligent in the sense that when you encounter an entirely new problem you would still be ‘only’ as good as your stable general intelligence level.


Can you improve your IQ score with practice?

Louis Matzel has answered Uncertain

An expert from Rutgers University in Genetics, Psychology, Neuropsychology

If I was forced to choose, I suppose I would say “uncertain”, but that’s not quite accurate. A better answer would be “yes, but not in any kind of meaningful way.” 

This is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer.  If by “practice” you mean that if you take an IQ test several times, will your score increase across subsequent tests?  The short and simple answer is “yes”, but the increase in score will be very small and is not attributable to anything like an increase in intelligence.  Rather, it is a consequence of secondary (and beneficial) influences on test performance such as a reduction of stress/anxiety, familiarity with the structure of the test, better time management, etc.  As an analogy, the single best preparation that you can do for a test like the SATs or the GREs is to simply do a practice test under actual test conditions.  This kind of practice tends to reduce anxiety, allows you to develop a strategy for time management, and generally adapts you to the conditions of testing.  On SATs and GREs (and with no other intervening “test preparation”), the second test score will sometimes increase as much as 50 points (on the old 600 scale) relative to the first test (with only very small or no subsequent gains).  This sounds good, and may help the test-taker get into a better school, but it does not suggest that the test-taker somehow became better prepared for academic achievement.  They just got better at taking the test. 

The same is true for an IQ test, but to a much lesser degree.  First, it should be noted that all conventional IQ tests are explicitly designed to minimize any effect of practice.  On an IQ test like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM), we sometimes see an increase of 2-5 points (where 100 is the average and 15 is the standard deviation) on a second relative to first test.  This is a really negligible increase, and should dissuade anyone from thinking that IQ tests don’t measure innate ability (and could be beat just by practicing the test).  At any kind of theoretical level, this small increase is of so little consequence that it can be ignored.  At a practical level, I would wonder “who cares”?  It doesn’t mean that you are a few points smarter (and a few points simply don’t matter), and unless you are tying to get those three more points necessary for admission into Mensa (again, I would wonder why you would care), why even bother with the practice?  (I always tell students that if they want to appear smarter, read some books.  Don’t worry about a few points on an IQ test.) 

This kind of question is often raised in the context of evaluating the concurrent validity of the IQ test (i.e., is the score obtained by an individual reliable and repeatable).  All of the available evidence indicates that IQ test scores are highly reliable and repeatable.  In these regards, perhaps some of the best evidence regarding the effects of practice comes from an analysis reported by Carpenter, Just, & Schell in 1990. The RPM consists of five blocks of perceptual reasoning problems, with each block of problems becoming progressively more difficult.  Upon careful examination of the test, Carpenter et al. determined that all of the problems on the RPM could be solved with the application of just five rules (combinations of which were applicable to the different blocks of questions).  However, if subjects were explicitly trained to recognize and implement the rules, subsequent performance on the RPM still varied tremendously across the subjects, i.e., there was still a normal distribution of individual IQ scores.  Relative to scores prior to training on the rules, explicit training on those operations only resulted in a small (about 5-10 point) increase in actual IQ scores.  Carpenter et al. concluded that rather than “practice” (or learning the rules), application of the rules (indicative of some innate abilities) accounts for much more of the variance in individuals’ performance.  Carpenter et al. identified two psychological processes (reflective of innate abilities) that were utilized in formulating solutions to each test question.  First, subjects needed to apply working memory to store partial or potential solutions while the potential solutions were computed, compared, and evaluated.  Second, subjects were required to utilize a “goal monitor” for planning strategies, setting up sub-goals, and monitoring the utility of a potential solution, all while not becoming confused.  This latter innate ability requires monitoring of working memory and directing attention to each appropriate stage of the process of computing solutions under conditions of high interference.  (As an example of these kinds of operations, imagine for instance trying to simultaneously remember several unique phone numbers or mentally comparing the outcomes of different moves/countermoves in a game of chess.  Some people are good at these kinds of tasks, and some people just aren’t.)  In total, Carpenter et al.’s results and analyses suggest that while practice (or even learning the rules) can have a small effect on IQ test performance, an individual’s actual score on the IQ test is still primarily a reflection of that individual’s innate abilities. 

So, can IQ test scores improve with practice?  Yes, but only to a very limited degree and not in any way that actually reflects any functional significance regarding intelligence.

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