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Developmental Maturity as an Influencing Factor on IQ Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I recently had my 7 year old child tested for IQ as well as some other tests. He scored in the low average range (84). I am convinced that he is scoring poorly because of immaturity rather than actual intelligence issues. He is quite small for his age and has only lost two teeth. When compared to his younger sister (16 months younger), she is taller, weighs more and has lost four teeth already.

In conversation he appears to be bright, but has had some issues in school which prompted the evaluation. My questions are:

  • How much does development factor in to scoring these exams?

  • Would a less developmentally mature kid score lower than a mature kid?

  • Can these scores improve over time as the child grows?

  • How accurate are the tests at this age?

A: This really is quite tricky. However, immaturity is often age-related. The very young gifted are often identified based on the developmental milestones they achieve. Having said that, I personally feel that this may be possible. And if this is the case, scores should improve as the child matures.

Large discrepancies in IQ scores are not very common throughout an individualís life span. Nevertheless, it is also believed that testing the young may not yield very accurate scores due to various reasons. IQ scores generally tend to stabilize only once the children are in adolescence. So, at about seven years (and more so for the younger ones), it is possible that scores may not be very accurate due to the fact that children are going through such rapid cognitive development. Therefore, perhaps a better indication of IQ would be when a child is above, say, 15 years of age.

Do also read my answers in previous newsletter on accuracy in testing young children for giftedness. You should also talk to the school authorities on the interpretation of his scores and determine the best ways to help him maximize his potential.


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