Pretty much everyone knows that the adult average IQ is 100. The test is calibrated to ensure this score remains average. Nevertheless, there’s a lot more to intelligence than the average adult IQ. Most people get somewhere around an average score – usually from 89 to 110 or so. Within that average intelligence, however, lies a dizzying array of different abilities and skills. For example, some people with a very typical adult average IQ exceed in one area of accomplishment. There are people with unremarkable adult IQ scores who are amazing communicators, proficient musicians, or even pioneering scientists. It is clear to anyone who has studied the matter in any detail that there is more to intelligence than the IQ test can study.

The problem with adult average IQs is that they don’t take multiple intelligences into account. The people who designed the adult IQ test intended to provide a very simple measure of intelligence that could be used across the board. In this they succeeded. The IQ test is, in general, a pretty good predictor of a number of things. Socioeconomic status, likeliness to drop out of high school, and competitiveness in the job market are all predicted by intelligence quotient scores. Nonetheless, although the adult average IQ is a statistically significant measure of intellect, it may not be useful for a particular person.

Many people nowadays are arguing that a more holistic approach is preferable to using the adult average IQ to measure peoples abilities. The multiple intelligences approach theorizes that people have any number of different skills that can be discreetly measured. Some people are extremely good at the types of problem-solving tasks studied on the IQ test, for example, but are poor communicators. Other people are comparatively poor at solving complex tasks but are excellent at leading, communicating difficulties to other people, or managing and overseeing employees.

Still, that doesn’t mean that the adult average IQ should be thrown out completely. As a study to show likelihood of success in schools and other institutions, it is still good. The best approach in my opinion is to balance it with other tests of individual skills. Rather than seeing it as a absolute test of ability, society should see it as one of many tasks to give some indication about where someone is heading. After all, we control our destinies. We can perform poorly despite having high adult average IQs, or surprise people despite having fairly low scores.