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Stay in school – just one additional year in school can increase person’s IQ by 1-5 points

Posted June 28, 2018

Everyone wants to be smarter. If you are a parent, you wish your children were good and intelligent people. One way of measuring intelligence is IQ testing, which also has its limitations. However, a new research from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Texas at Austin revealed that just one year of schooling leads to a small but noticeable increase in person’s IQ.

Additional years in school seem to boost IQ scores, but scientists still don’t know if that carries across different countries. Image credit: Bobo12345 via Wikimedia

Not all people stay in school until graduation. Some chose to leave earlier or are pressured into such a decision by some circumstances. Several researches have shown that there is a direct correlation between intelligence and time in education system, but scientists didn’t know which way the link goes – is it that education makes people smarter or smarter people simply stay in school for longer? It is likely that both of these assumptions are correct in their respective regards, but now scientists decided to analyse 42 datasets including results collected from more than 600,000 people to understand this correlation better.

Such a huge pool of people allowed scientists to get a better idea how education and intelligence test scores are related. Scientists simply compared the level of education of these people with intelligence scores obtained from tests of abilities such as reasoning, factual knowledge, and memory. Scientists found that additional school years improve person’s IQ scores by between one and five points. It is not a significant increase, but scientists say that this research till this day is the best proof that education raises intelligence test scores. Interestingly enough, only one year of additional school time is enough to bring such benefits.

Even scientists were surprised about these results. Dr Stuart Ritchie, lead researcher of the study, said: “The most surprising finding was how long-lasting the effects seemed to be, appearing even for people who completed intelligence tests in their 70s and 80s. Something about that educational boost seemed to be beneficial right across the lifespan”. However, this research also had its limitations. For example, scientists still don’t really understand how school years can be boosting intelligence. But that is also a good thing.

This research leaves some questions to be answered and that is a positive – future studies may bring some new very interesting information. However, for now the message is clear – staying in school is good for your mind. Leaving school before graduation has some negative psychological effects as well as some social consequences. These factors could be the ones contributing to the stop in the increase of IQ scores after quitting school.


Source:  University of Edinburgh

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