What Is in a Name? A Historical Review of Intelligence Test Score Labels

Isaac L. Woods, Randy G. Floyd, Leah J. Singh, Haley K. Layton, Philip A. Norfolk, Ryan L. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Labels for scores stemming from intelligence tests have been employed since their inception in the United States. The purpose of this study was to systematically identify and document score labels for IQs used during the past 102 years. Using pairs of reviewers, score labels from 40 tests were reviewed, and 61 unique labels were identified. Comparative analyses by score range and decade were completed. Results indicate a paradigm shift beginning in the 1980s that has slowly resulted in more common, but not universal, use of terminology that focuses on the statistical aspect of scores, rather than employing value-laden and potentially stigmatizing terms. A universal score label system would help to avoid confusion, miscommunication, and biased decision making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-705
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psychoeducational Assessment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • giftedness
  • intellectual disability
  • intelligence tests
  • labeling theory
  • report writing
  • score labels
  • test scores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Clinical Psychology
  • General Psychology


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