There are plenty of people who are willing to mislead others for their own gain. Some of these people rationalize their behavior: “if people believe it, it’s their own fault.” Others believe in what they sell, often having been conned by someone in the past: my magic beans will help you recover from disease. Then there are those who just don’t care.
Scientifically speaking, IQ stands for “intelligence quotient.” The average IQ is 100, and this is a score adjusted to the population. If everyone in the world scored 200 on a modern IQ test, they would most likely adjust the test and grade everyone as “100.” Increasing your intelligence and increasing your “IQ” are not synonymous. Most people want to know how to increase their “IQ score.” This doesn’t necessarily equal any (or a significant) increase in intelligence. It will, however, likely result in a heightened sense of superiority if one suddenly reaches an impressively high number.
Raising your IQ score can be done with practice. Furthermore, education can help you do better on tests; I found a way to use algebra to solve a question. I have forgotten a lot of algebra, and it certainly isn’t something that readily comes to my mind. The same is true for many educated people who work in non-algebraic jobs. There are ways to solve the same problem, but if you have one solution and someone else has three, who is more likely to figure something out quickly? The answer is fairly obvious. While not all IQ tests are timed, even those that aren’t can force the taker to tire and become frustrated. Having more tools to solve problems makes things easier. Someone will be asked the similarity between “duck,” “cat,” and “truck.” Those who have done IQ tests will know many questions play on the tendency of people to think in certain ways. There may be other answers, and someone who thinks up elaborate (but considered incorrect) responses will do poorly. This is why professional tests are required for accurate IQ scores. Will a random Internet test reflect the complexity of an issue? The question raised can be answered by “each word has only one vowel.” There might be fifty other answers. It’s difficult to derive questions that are free from such problems. Especially when taking tests of this sort, knowledge of the “tricks” can help you score higher.
Working your brain does increase IQ slightly, in most cases. It’s not 100% clear how this works, and it’s also unclear how much an individual’s IQ can change. In the vast majority of cases, an IQ will not change much over a lifetime. Even my example of “practicing” is not shown to result in any significant increase. In fact, cases where people score significantly higher are taken to reflect flaws in the test – at least in the majority of cases.
Biologically speaking, most people can’t “work hard” and become Einstein. There have been no documented cases of this happening. Examples of dramatic intelligence increases typically correspond to late development (biologically speaking) or a dramatic increase in education (the person effectively lacked the ability to properly do the test to begin with). In childhood, in the womb, and in one’s teens there is more a person can do to increase intelligence. Most of this amounts to increasing exposure to intellectual activities as well as limiting exposure to harmful substances. Proper diet is very important, too.
And for the rest of us? Well, there is some evidence certain medications can increase IQ, but that’s not a recommended course of action for most people. It’s simply a fortune side effect for those taking these medications for other reasons. ADHD medications are an example, and since ADHD typically decreases academic performance anyway, they are generally just eliminating disadvantages (academically speaking, as ADHD may have advantageous applications). Furthermore, the benefit of such medications is slight. Diet is also a factor, as poor diet can cause fatigue and lower scoring. Fish Oil is shown to increase IQ slightly (in some cases, not all).
Overall, one should not let IQ rule over them. Especially in youth, people can become attached to viewing themselves as “the smart kid.” Intelligence isn’t everything, and there are always those who can compute mathematical problems faster or write more creative essays. It takes wisdom to realize that individuals should work towards their goals. If IQ dictates that someone is incapable of doing X, they are probably aware of that already. The tragic cases are not where a smart child realizes they might have to settle for a school other than Harvard. Those with significantly low IQs won’t realize the significance of the test, and may believe they can become a doctor despite having the inability to do high school mathematics. Be reasonable, but judge your future based on what you think is possible according to experience. Academics progress anyway. Take physics and if things get too hard when quantum physics comes up, you can settle for regular physics. IQ testing is intended to be used to evaluate populations of people (it has historically been used for racist purposes). Comparing individuals is rather unjustified given the complexity of human intelligence.