IQ Tests History: Greatest Minds of All Time?

Learning about IQ tests history is a way to get to know yourself better. See how you compare with some of the great minds of our time — and learn a bit about how IQ test scores have evolved over the generations to gain a better grasp of the role of IQ testing.

After all, it’s human nature to be curious about our IQ test scores. We all want to know where we stand when compared to others — it’s part of the human experience.

Understanding IQ Tests History

The IQ test scale itself hasn’t change much over the past 100 years. A score of 100 continues to be average. The IQ tests themselves have to be tweaked every decade or so, since otherwise “average” scores would climb quite considerably.

This “tweaking” helps take into account the Flynn Effect. Basically, IQ scores rise with each generation. The reasons for this aren’t 100% clear — but things like better nutrition, more education and societal changes may be responsible.

This chart helps show where your smarts measure up:

To put it all in context, 95% of the population falls within 30 points of “normal” IQ. That means that 9.5 out of 10 of us have an IQ that ranges between 70 and 130. Anything beyond that? Truly exceptional. And worthy of note in the realm of IQ test scores history.

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, Writer Marilyn Vos Savant holds the record for having the world’s highest IQ. Her IQ has been measured at 228.

The Most Brilliant Minds in IQ Tests History

IQ tests take on an entirely new perspective when you consider the great minds throughout IQ tests history. After an examination of some of these impressive numbers, our more ordinary results can be downright embarrassing!

Experts have estimated that some of the most brilliant leaders achieved these results:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 210
Voltaire 190
Blaise Pascal 195
Bobby Fischer 187
Galileo Galilei 185
da Vinci 180
Charles Dickens 180
Rene Descartes 180
Michelangelo 180
Immanuel Kant 175
Charles Darwin 165
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 165
Beethoven 165
Nicolaus Copernicus 160
Benjamin Franklin 160
Johann Sebastian Bach 165
Hitler 141
Cervantes 155
Rembrandt 155
Abraham Lincoln 150
Napoleon 145
Martin Luther 170
George Washington 140

IQ Test Scores in Perspective

Something important to remember? IQ test results are not carved in stone. You’ll see some fluctuations over your life span. Our cognitive abilities tend to drop off naturally as we age — which is why it’s important to stay active with IQ games, puzzles and activities like Sudoku or crosswords, or even learning a musical instrument.

These activities will keep your mind healthy and alert, and scientists suggest they’ll also help keep your IQ from falling too dramatically.

One age range that suffers from particularly volatile IQ test scores is the adolescent. Recent studies have shown dramatic changes in IQ test scores for teenagers. 

While for most of us, our IQ results stay relatively stable – for teenagers, this is not the case. So try not to put too much emphasis on their results, since they are highly changeable.

Learn More About Your Score

If you’d like to learn more about IQ test scores history, this article offers an overview on the smartest folks throughout time, putting Goethe, Da Vinci and Einstein at the top of the list for greatest minds ever.