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What Are IQ Percentiles

IQ is often expressed in percentiles, which is not the same as percentage scores, and a common reason for the misunderstanding of IQ scores. Percentage refers to the number of items which a child answers correctly compared to the total number of items presented. If a child answers 25 questions correctly on a 50 question test he would earn a percentage score of 50. If he answers 40 questions on the same test his percentage score would be 80. Percentile, however, refers to the number of other test takersí scores that an individualís score equals or exceeds. If a child answered 25 questions and did better than 50% of the children taking the test he would score at the 50th percentile. However, if he answered 40 questions on the 50 item test and everyone else answered more than he did, he would fall at a very low percentile ó even though he answered 80% of the questions correctly.

On most standardized tests, an IQ of 100 is at the 50th percentile. Most of our IQ tests are standardized with a mean score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. What that means is that the following IQ scores will be roughly equivalent to the following percentiles:

IQ Percentile
65 01
70 02
75 05
80 09
85 16
90 25
95 37
100 50
105 63
110 75
115 84
120 91
125 95
130 98
135 99

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