The average intelligence quotient (IQ) is between 85 and 115. But this number can vary between countries, states, and even geographical regions.
IQ stands for “intelligence quotient” and is a standard of measurement used to assess a person’s mental aptitude compared to a group of their peers.
In general, an IQ score is defined with a median and mean of 100. Scores above 130 are labeled as above average or “very superior,” while scores under 70 would be considered below average or labeled as “borderline impaired.”
Most people have an average IQ between 85 and 115.
Overall, about 98% of people have a score below 130. Only 2% of the population score above that and are considered above average.
But your IQ score isn’t simply about bragging rights.
Knowing IQ can help guide a child into beneficial learning programs, pinpoint developmental challenges, and provide insight into global wellness patterns. For example, clusters of low IQ can mean more than inherited cognitive features. They may indicate regions in need of education or resources.
According to 2019’s The Intelligence of the Nations report, the average IQ in the United States is 97.43.
This number was calculated using multiple versions of IQ tests as well as detailed sample data regarding socioeconomic and environmental factors.
Updated state IQ rankings were
These were derived from National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) reading and math scores, calculated along with literary and numeracy scores from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).
- Alabama: 96.4
- Alaska: 99.4
- Arizona: 98.3
- Arkansas: 97.1
- California: 97.1
- Colorado: 101.1
- Connecticut: 101.2
- Delaware: 98.7
- Florida: 98.8
- Georgia: 98.1
- Hawaii: 99.2
- Idaho: 100.5
- Illinois: 99.4
- Indiana: 100.6
- Iowa: 101.1
- Kansas: 100.5
- Kentucky: 98.8
- Louisiana: 95.2
- Maine: 100.9
- Maryland: 100
- Massachusetts: 103.1
- Michigan: 99.6
- Minnesota: 102.9
- Mississippi: 95.8
- Missouri: 99.5
- Montana: 101.1
- Nebraska: 101.2
- Nevada: 96.6
- New Hampshire: 103.2
- New Jersey: 101.0
- New Mexico: 95.0
- New York: 98.4
- North Carolina: 99.5
- North Dakota: 101.7
- Ohio: 100.0
- Oklahoma: 98.2
- Oregon: 100.3
- Pennsylvania: 100.2
- Rhode Island: 99.4
- South Carolina: 97.8
- South Dakota: 100.7
- Tennessee: 98.3
- Texas: 97.4
- Utah: 101.5
- Vermont: 102.2
- Virginia: 101.2
- Washington: 101.5
- West Virginia: 97.2
- Wisconsin: 101.2
- Wyoming: 101.7
Keep in mind that these are average scores taken over an entire population, and no state is above or below average in terms of IQ.
A 2010 study looking into IQ and educational attainment scores for 108 nations found that the average IQ across the global sample was 89.
But not all countries participate in IQ testing, and varying rates of socioeconomic development can make finding an accurate international IQ average challenging.
The average IQ of countries around the world can range significantly — from Botswana at 69.45 to China at 104.10.
Other examples of average IQ by country from The Intelligence of Nations report include:
- Colombia: 83.13
- Egypt: 76.32
- Finland: 101.20
- Germany: 100.74
- India: 76.24
- Mexico: 87.73
- Netherlands: 100.74
- Poland: 92.87
- Spain: 93.90
- United Kingdom: 99.12
It’s crucial to note that intelligence tests can be misinterpreted and culturally biased. Additionally, different countries have different ideas of what intelligence is and how it’s measured.
Telling someone you scored 102 on your IQ test means very little unless they know which test you took and what the parameters were.
According to Mensa International, scoring 142 or more on a Stanford-Binet test could be just as good as scoring 148 and above on a Cattell equivalent.
Common versions of IQ tests
A number of IQ test models exist, including:
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
- Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
- Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales
- Differential Ability Scales
- Raven’s Progressive Matrices
- Otis-Lennon School ability test
- Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children
- Snijders-Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Test
- Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence
- Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test
- The Woodcock-Johnson Test
- Cattell Culture Fair Intelligence Test
At their beginning, IQ tests compared your mental age to your chronological age and multiplied that ratio by 100.
A mental age higher than your chronological age would result in a number over 100, for example, while a mental age lower than your chronological age would result in a number under 100.
Most modern IQ tests still use the number “100” as a baseline, but the statistical variations used to achieve your final number may differ depending on the testing model used.
Using a battery of ability questions, these tests include questions related to reasoning, non-verbal organization, comprehension, working memory, and processing speed, among others.
The necessity of IQ testing is controversial, particularly because intelligence measurements can be misinterpreted and used as a means to stigmatize marginalized groups.
Few people are aware that the average IQ factors in much more than someone’s ability to perform in the classroom. From a population standpoint, it can factor in everything from sexuality and crime rate to climate and population health.
Many scientists advocate for the use of IQ as an important tool to help understand human psychology and physiology.
Insight into brain health
In some cases, researchers believe IQ tests can provide noninvasive means to evaluate the performance of the brain’s different structures.
In a 2020 study, the brain images of 266 volunteers from Japan were examined. It was found that using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, 3rd edition (WAIS-III) accurately correlated with the level of functioning in different regions of the brain.
IQ testing and success
Brain functionality aside, the verdict remains out on how beneficial IQ is to predict someone’s overall performance or well-being.
The review looked at lifelong IQ scores and success factors and found that motivation dynamics made up for a number of differences in IQ among participants and predicted how well IQ scores related to success later in life.
The researchers concluded that intelligence alone might not determine why someone succeeds. It may come down to who wants to succeed.
Most IQ tests also don’t evaluate other important aspects of functioning, such as emotional intelligence.
While individual IQ tests remain the most prominent means of evaluating intelligence, other methods can also provide insight into your learning potential.
Standardized testing is a common form of performance evaluation used in school. Students are required to answer a variety of questions on individual topics and then are graded on a percentage or point scale.
While these achievement tests may not provide as detailed information into specific qualities of individual intelligence, they can still shine light into areas where children may require support.
But standardized tests are controversial, with many identifying them as culturally biased.
Neuroimaging intelligence testing
Neuroimaging of your brain’s function may be another way to determine intelligence.
A 2018 study found that the rate of neural activity in the resting brain accurately predicted intelligence.
Additionally, research from 2019 found that specific connectivity patterns in the brain were able to indicate levels of creativity, though large-scale follow-up is needed.
The average IQ worldwide is typically assessed off a median of 100. Depending on the test you take, scoring above 130 might make you a genius, while scoring under 70 might indicate a lower-than-average IQ.
But your IQ score doesn’t define you or how successful you’ll be in life.
There are several other factors that contribute to happiness and well-being. Motivation, for example, might be one characteristic that can override IQ barriers.