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Medical What is the I.Q. cutoff forn mental retardation?

  1. Dec 4, 2008 #1
    I am worried that I could be borderline mentally retarded because when I was 17 years old, I took an I.Q. test that qualified me for special eductation classes after it was discovered that I had a learning disability in math. My overall I.Q. score was 89, which is very low, but is that considered borderline intellectual functioning? Or a very mild degree of mental retardation? The test I took, the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), said that the standard deviation for an average I.Q. was between 85-115. But from what I have read and heard, 89 is considerably below average intelligence. I have also read that borderline mental retardation is defined as having an I.Q. between 75-86.]

    Could I really be mentally retarded to some degree? Will I have great difficulty in college and working because of my mental delay?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2008 #2


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  4. Dec 4, 2008 #3
    If they put you in a "special needs" class based solely on your IQ scores, then they did you a great disservice.

    IQ scores are pretty much pointless. And what do they mean, anyway? I could score badly on an IQ test for all I know. But I'm getting my Bachelor's in physics in the spring. So am I stupid?

    I wouldn't pay any attention to IQ scores.

    That doesn't mean that you don't have some sort of learning disability. I don't know you, so I can't say either way. But even that doesn't mean you are mentally retarded. You can think well, you just can't learn as fast, right?
  5. Dec 4, 2008 #4

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    Take a look at the wiki article on mental retardation:


    You are not in that I.Q. score range. Not even close. It concerns me a little that you went to take an I.Q. test soon after finding out that you had a learning disability. It is possible that this could influence the score. If you have mental resources tied up with worrying about the test, that can impair your ability to solve the problems.

    You don't seem to have any problem communicating your thoughts, and this will be a big plus for you in college. People with "very low I.Q.s" certainly do not write like you do. (But remember to check your spelling! :smile:)

    As far as your learning disability, many colleges have an office of student disabilities, and you can talk with them about getting extra time on math tests. This allowance is made all the time.

    Just out of curiosity, what have you done to work on your math disability? Were you able to find any special training or strategies that helped?
  6. Dec 4, 2008 #5
    I graduated high school with almost a 3.5 GPA circa April 2007. I am 21 years old now, and believe that I am an utter idiot and congenital failure at life because of how I scored on that test four years ago. I believe that I do not have the intellectual abilities that are required to
    initiate and perform in collegiate-level scholastics. I was only in special ed for learning disabilities in math, and my math comprehension score on the test was only two points below the average deviation. I took an I.Q. test when I was 7 years old, and scored 111 overall, I was a straight-A student, and did not have any learning or math difficulties back then. How could my I.Q. have dropped 22 points since then?

    Most people laugh at any I.Q. below 100. Because mine is 89, does that make me stupid and incapable? If I wanted to go to college, would I be mentally able to graduate? Does it literally require you have genius intellect to do "okay" or good in college? If I had an intelligence quotient within the 90's, or over 100, I might have more self-esteem. I've never thought much of myself, especially when it comes to my intelligence, but my self-esteem hit an all time low when it was told to me by my school psychologist whom evaulated me that I wasn't very bright.

    There few about five or six questions (mathematical word problems) that I intentionally didn't answer towards the very end of the test because it was the end of the school year and I just wanted to go on summer vacation. Plus a few questions that I know the correct answers to now, but did not then. So I guess you could add about 3-4 points onto that 89.
  7. Dec 4, 2008 #6
    It does NOT require "genius level" intellect to do okay in college. I am living proof. :p

    I, like most of my friends, am a regular guy who simply enjoys the major he is in, likes to learn, and is willing to work semi-hard (I would have better grades if I worked harder...). I have some very smart friends, but I am in the same classes as them and I'm not on their level.

    And nobody expects me to be.
  8. Dec 5, 2008 #7

    jim mcnamara

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    You are talking about Special Education. The parameters for this are defined by Federal and state regulation. In excruciating detail. A LOT of regulations.

    To qualify for special ed you have to have special needs. For example, a severe physical handicap or an IQ that is far from normal - in either direction, too high or too low, will qualify you for special ed.

    You are no way special ed. Where I am in New Mexico, the state contributes $3500/yr (average) for each student to a school district. A special ed student can have as much as $40000 extra contribution for him/her. Some of that extra money comes from the Feds. Hence the massive pile of regulations. And as well, really inappropriate testing like Stanford-Binet IQ test. IMO.

    And not all of that money goes to a particular student. Take a careful look at the short bus sometime. A lot of school districts just love to have speds whose true needs are minimal but whose revenues really bump up the coffers. You may have been on the receiving end of a bureaucrat with that extra revenue in mind.
  9. Dec 5, 2008 #8


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    I've always heard that the average person's IQ is between 95-105. However, the measure of one's IQ is not necessarily indicative of one's knowledge. In other words being well educated does not mean one has a high IQ or even average IQ (there is typically a correlation between the two though).

    As long as you apply yourself and have enough initiative you can further your knowledge.

  10. Dec 5, 2008 #9

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    I sincerely think the best thing you can do for yourself is to enroll in some college classes and start building your confidence. You don't have to jump into a four year program right away; you can take one or two community classes and try out things that interest you.

    We could all sit here and tell you over and over that we believe you can do the work, but nothing is going to truly convince you of it until you prove it to yourself. And don't forget that there are people here at PF who are ready and willing to help you through just about any math or science questions you have.
  11. Dec 6, 2008 #10
    Many people with learning disability's are put in special ed classes, not because of low IQ's , but because their IQ suggests they are are smart, but their ability to perform the tasks need a bit of help.
  12. Dec 6, 2008 #11


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    I agree with MIH that you have very good written communication skills. IQ was originally supposed to measure one's capacity for knowledge, but it got perverted along the way. Most intelligent people don't pay attention to the score. (That's one reason that I consider MENSA a crock of ****; they do nothing but dwell upon their 'stellar' IQ's, which are generally lower than mine.)
    Your ability to express your thoughts indicates to me that you are very intelligent in one of the most important aspects of human relationships. So even if technology isn't in your future, you should have no trouble getting into a human-oriented field such as counseling or sales. Don't rule out the tech stuff if you want it, though. I surmise that you can succeed at anything you put your mind to.
  13. Dec 6, 2008 #12


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    Thing first thought I had when I read your post was: this person's writing skills put him/her easily in the top 20% of members on this forum, as far as spelling, grammar, writing style and clarity of expression go.

    Don't let IQ scores ever tell you that you can't do something. You could only possibly know that if you have tried and failed, and I mean really, really tried!
  14. Dec 6, 2008 #13
    The cut-off is about 70. I can just tell by your writing that you are not in the 80s range. Unless you stayed up all night editing your posts.

    I won't deny that IQ scores do measure something, but it is blown way out of proportion. First of all, the score is very sensitive to fluctuation. On a bad day you can score below average, and on a good one close to genius. This is why scores 15 points apart are considered the same. The marking is also subjective. Like teachers or profs, one psychologist is harsher than the next. The score is most accurate when you are young, and the fact you scored 111 and got straight As suggests you are possibly higher - unless ofcourse you worked 2-3 hours a day in elementary. This and different brands name tests have different iqs.

    This forum doesn't view psychometrics too highly, because of what it does to people like you. Some people just latch on to the iq score like the bible, and let it steer their life. I'm not a psychologist so I don't know whether or not you have a math disability, but I can offer some insight. Math today is not taught properly, you memorize algorithms and are expected to know when to apply them. Then when you attempt to take a test from the 60s you find yourself underachieving because you don't really understand the material. Also, I find the most intelligent students are not interested in highschool mathematics because of how poorly it is presented.

    What exactly troubles you with math? Maybe I can offer some math books that can really teach you whats going on. Are you having problems with mental calculation? Algebra? calculus? If you truly are handicapped at math, it is a reality you will have to accept. You will have to train for work that doesn't involve any math... which is 80% of highpaying jobs?

    The only thing that suggests your iq score is 89 is how firmly you believe one test can measure all that your brain is capable of. Common sense should tell you how many variables come into play with any kind of social science. Psychology is not physics, where results are guarenteed. Ask yourself... do you struggle with math? Or is it something else. Or do you want to be able to brag to people on the streets how you scored high on an iq test. They are the only ones who will care anyway.
  15. Dec 6, 2008 #14


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    I'd be interested in that, if you don't mind. I have about a grade 9 math level (simple geometry with a hint of algebra). It makes it a bit difficult to keep up with some of the Engineering posts. :redface:
  16. Dec 6, 2008 #15
    At grade 9 you still have a long way to go before you even begin to recognize the notation in engineering physics. Engineers employ calculus and linear algebra, things you won't normally study until first year in university. For now, it is a good idea to master algebra. A solid book in algebra is "Elementary Algebra" by Harold Jacobs. There is little else you can do at this point.
  17. Dec 6, 2008 #16
    yeah, engineering takes about 2 years of college level math. geometry helps, but i think the most important is algebra and trigonometry. then you can proceed directly into calculus I and start doing calculus-based college level physics. you can do engineering physics with just first-year calculus, and you probably only really need the first two courses.

    being unprepared is really no big deal. my trig was bad so i went back and took two courses of pre-calc (a combined algebra and trig sequence). two quarters of pre-calc, plus two quarters of calc, and you should be good to go on the engineering physics. only a year away.
  18. Dec 7, 2008 #17
    In this day and age if you told a good lawyer this you could potentialy have multi million dollar lawsuit against the school.
  19. Dec 7, 2008 #18
    I recently took a very legitimate iQ test and trust me, iQ is not necessarily linked to a person's success in school whether iQ scores do or dont give you an accurate representation of your intelligence. The test i took had two parts, logic and reasoning, and language skills. as predicted I got a really good score in the logic and reasoning (my iQ score was 155 in this section) while my language iQ was quite low... also as predicted lol. My language iQ is 85 which makes me borderline deficient in that area... lol. But hey, i got first in my english class last year with a 90% because i wanted to do well so that my english mark wouldn't bring my average down too much. seeing as my english class consisted of about 30 people, chances were pretty good that i was the dumbest one (as far as english goes) in the class. if "putting your mind to it" can bring greater accademic success to a mentally borderline deficient person (aka me in languages) than the average person's let alone the mentally inclined person's academic success... then i think its prity safe to say that your performance in post secondary education is compleatly dependent on how badly you want to do well. Fortunately for me, i dont need to do anything in any of my math/science classes to get 98's in them (stupid calculator typos :P) so i had the time to focous on my english. Try a lighter work load if need be? Education should be based on the desire to learn, not the desire to eventually finish learning, so its not a race.
  20. Dec 9, 2008 #19
    I'm not saying anything can compensate for hard work, but if everyone worked x amount of hours a week they would not all end up with the same grade.
  21. Dec 9, 2008 #20
    That is true, but then again, if everyone's average in school was based on x hours of studying a week, then if everyone started studying any constant value in hours greater than x hours a week, the overall average in school would go up. no not everyone can get 90's but everyone can get 80's.. at least in highschool. and the whole idea of my post was to point out how even though some genius may need to study only Y hours a week to get grade X, if you study Q hours a week then you to can get a grade of X
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