Adults are often curious about IQ (or cognitive ability), whether it be their own, their child's, or a celebrity's IQ score. But, what is IQ? IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and is meant to be an estimate of overall thinking and reasoning abilities. Short term and/or working memory, processing speed, verbal reasoning, visual reasoning, and logical reasoning are often associated subskills that are assessed to determine an overall estimate. Another (and preferable term) for IQ or intelligence is cognitive ability.
There are silly tests and quizzes online that claim to be able to tell you your IQ. However, the only true test of cognitive ability or IQ is by a standardized measure that is individually administered in person with a qualified professional such as a School Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, or Clinical Psychologist with experience and training in cognitive assessments. Standardized assessments mean that the test is given the same way to every person so that the results can be compared to others who were also given the same assessment under the same conditions. Cognitive (IQ) scores are reported as standard scores, which have a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. This means that most people (68% of the general population) will have a score between 85 and 115, which is considered to be the average range - and it's OK to be average! Those who have higher scores may be considered above average or geniuses, depending on where their score falls, and those with lower scores may be below average or have an intellectual disability.
The middle yellow/orange comprises 85 to 115 and 68% of the population.
Why do we assess cognitive ability, anyway? Often, cognitive ability is assessed to determine giftedness or intellectual disability. Outside agencies such as Departments of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) may require cognitive assessments to determine eligibility for services outside of school or as an adult. Sometimes, the cognitive ability is compared to other abilities (such as academics) to determine the presence of a learning disability along with other data. Sometimes cognitive abilities are assessed prior to invasive treatments such as chemotherapy, and retested after treatment to determine any adverse effects. Other times, assessments may be made after a traumatic injury (such as brain injury or concussion) to determine adverse effects as well as possible recovery over time from the injury. And sometimes, people just are curious and want to know.