by Camila Merashi


Academic achievement is seen as a potential foundation of self-worth, confidence and success in life. For this reason, learners, teachers and parents work together aiming at good grades in school to ensure a bright future for everyone. This makes sense considering the research finds that the best performers end up becoming the most successful people in the society with only a few exceptions.

Academic performance is mostly graded by the scores of an exam, which involves answering questions that measures a wide range of skills and ability of the exam taker. To excel in these exams requires the student to actively prepare through attentively listening to teachers, participating in class discussions, reviewing past exam questions, and hard work. Additionally, low or high performance is also dependent of the learners IQ. This article aims to establish a link between getting good grades in school and a person’s IQ.

What is Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and how can it be measured?

IQ is simply a measure of personal reasoning ability that evaluates how best and fast an individual can use information and logic to solve problems or make predictions. It involves assessment of mental qualities like the ability to learn from experience, understand and handle abstract concepts, adapt to new environments, stay attentive, and use knowledge to manipulate situations.

In history, IQ has been used widely in different areas including schools to assess the potential of students, employers during recruitment, governments to determine the qualities of leaders, and in sports and military recruitment among other fields. In most cases a person’s intelligence and cognitive ability is assessed through IQ tests such as the Wonderlic IQ tests from These are standardized evaluation consisting of tasks around analytic thinking, spatial recognition, arithmetic ability and quick memory. The score of these tests ranks the IQ of the takers based on the general population with a score between 90 and 110 regarded as normal IQ, while scores above 130 as exceptional IQ.

What is the Link between IQ and Academic Performance?

Students with high IQ scores have better perception, are adaptable to changing situations, and have the ability to communicate clearly. Additionally, a person with IQ above the average is good at analytical thinking and greater working memory capacity as well as attention.

Various studies have shown that learners who score high in IQ test tend to be academic performers. However, this relationship may differ at various educational levels. For instance, in their early development years, children get bored and frustrated with learning speed and the repetitive style of learning, which may lower the grades even for children with high IQ score. Therefore, intelligence is more associated with performance at higher educational levels – college and university levels than in elementary and middle school. This is mainly because learning materials become more engaging to students with high IQ in higher learning. Here are some of common indicators of high IQ that relates to performing well in school:

  1. Knowledge – The measure of the how much you know about a particular topic can be used to predict how well a student can remember concepts learnt in class during an exam.

  2. Critical thinking – During an exam students use critical thinking skills to analyse and solve application exam questions.

  3. Attention – Being attentive in class is a key attribute to passing exams. Besides, students with the ability to pay attention and ignore distractions are less likely to make an error when answering questions.

  4. Decisiveness – People with high IQ are able to make quick decision. This can be applied from choosing the best subject combination to selecting the best questions during a test among many other decisions throughout the learning process.

  5. Mathematics skills – Highly intelligent students perform better in math subjects.

However, though IQ score can be used to predict academic achievement, you may still find some intelligent student failing to score high grade due to a number of possible factors such as:

  • School factors – Teaching interventions.

  • Social and environmental factors – Family and peer group influence.

  • Personal factors – Hard work, self-discipline, emotions and health.

To sum it up, every student can learn no matter their intelligence levels. In fact, some students only fail to do well in exams due to a weakness in specific intelligence metrics. It is important to match learners’ academic performance with their IQ score to discover the potential and identify students who require extra help. Therefore teachers may use IQ tests to understand their class needs so as to develop an ideal teaching strategy that accommodates the learning needs for all students.