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For thousands of years, people have been interested in human intelligence and had always been curious as to whether intelligence can be measured, but it was only about a century ago that the first real intelligence test was developed.
In the beginning of the 20th century, France had enacted a law requiring all children to attend school. In order to determine which children will need special attention or which ones can be advanced to the higher levels, the French government commissioned psychologist Alfred Binet to come up with a method to determine the academic potential of children.
Binet and his colleague Theodore Simon came up with what is to be known today as the very first intelligence test. They also introduced the concept of the mental age, which is determined on how well a child performed on the test as compared to the average performance of his age group.
The test was quite successful and in fact became the basis of all standard IQ tests today. However, despite this success, even Binet admitted that there were flaws in this method, particularly because intelligence is too diverse to measure with the questions they had, which focused on memory, problem-solving skills, analytical skills and logic.
Over the years, this test underwent several changes through the research done by several people, including American psychologists Lewis Terman, Robert Yerkes and David Wechsler. Wechsler even came up with his own versions of the IQ test – one for adults and one for children.
The IQ tests as we know today are still patterned after the original test by Binet, but modified with new methods used in the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Wechsler’s scoring method is also used in today’s intelligence tests, with 100 being the average score, and two-thirds of the population scoring between 85-110 points, which is considered to be the average range.