Individual Differences

Understanding IQ

Individual vs. Group IQ Testing

Last updated:
20 Dec 2003


Individual intelligence tests

There are two major types of intelligence test, those administered to individuals and thsoe administered to groups.

The two main individual intelligence tests are the:

These are individual intelligence tests which require one-on-one consultation with the child.  The tests involve various verbal and non-verbal subtests which can be combined to give an overall IQ, but which also provide valuable separate subtest scores and measures based on the behavioural responses of the child to the test items.

Some of the content of these tests is clearly culture-loaded, hence there is the:

  • Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children - a more recent test which attempts to minimize cultural bias. The test also attempts to separate crystallised and fluid intelligence.

Group intelligence tests

Group-administered intelligence tests involve a series of different problems and are generally used in mass testing situations such as the military and schools. Examples of group tests are:

  • Multidimensional Aptitude Battery

  • The Cognitive Abilities test

  • Scholastic Assessment Tests

There has been a trend towards the use of multiple choice items. Many of theses tests have separately timed sub-tests. A major distinction made between types of items is verbal and non-verbal.  In recent years there has been a trend away from verbal and mathematical items towards non-verbal represented problems in pictures.

Part of the reason for shifting away from verbal-based tests, in particular, is the issue of culture-loading.

Advantages of group tests:

  • can be administered to very large numbers simultaneously

  • simplified examiner role

  • scoring typically more objective

  • large, representative samples often used leading to better established norms

Disadvantages of group tests:

  • examiner has less opportunity to establish rapport, obtain cooperation, and maintain interest

  • not readily detected if examinee tired, anxious, unwell

  • evidence that emotionally disturbed children do better on individual than group tests

  • examinee’s responses more restricted

  • normally an individual is tested on all items in a group test and may become boredom over easy items and frustrated or anxious over difficult items

  • individual tests typically provide for the examiner to choose items based on the test takers prior responses - moving onto quite difficult items or back to easier items. So individual tests offer more flexibility.