The value of IQ testing is most evident in educational or clinical settings. Children who seem to be experiencing learning difficulties or severe behavioural problems can be tested to ascertain whether the child’s difficulties can be partly attributed to an IQ score that is significantly different from the mean for her age group. Without IQ testing—or another measure of intelligence—children and adults needing extra support might not be identified effectively. In addition, IQ testing is used in courts to determine whether a defendant has special or extenuating circumstances that preclude him from participating in some way in a trial. People also use IQ testing results to seek disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. While IQ tests have sometimes been used as arguments in support of insidious purposes, such as the eugenics movement (Severson, 2011[1]), the following case study demonstrates the usefulness and benefits of IQ testing.

Candace, a 14-year-old girl experiencing problems at school, was referred for a court-ordered psychological evaluation. She was in regular education classes in ninth grade and was failing every subject. Candace had never been a stellar student but had always been passed to the next grade. Frequently, she would curse at any of her teachers who called on her in class. She also got into fights with other students and occasionally shoplifted. When she arrived for the evaluation, Candace immediately said that she hated everything about school, including the teachers, the rest of the staff, the building, and the homework. Her parents stated that they felt their daughter was picked on, because she was of a different race than the teachers and most of the other students. When asked why she cursed at her teachers, Candace replied, “They only call on me when I don’t know the answer. I don’t want to say, ‘I don’t know’ all of the time and look like an idiot in front of my friends. The teachers embarrass me.” She was given a battery of tests, including an IQ test. Her score on the IQ test was 68. What does Candace’s score say about her ability to excel or even succeed in regular education classes without assistance?


Reflection question

In thinking about the case of Candace described earlier, do you think that Candace benefitted or suffered as a result of consistently being passed on to the next grade?


  1. Severson, K. (2011, December 9). Thousands sterilized, a state weighs restitution. The New York Times. Retrieved from


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