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8 Surprising Signs You Have a High IQ

These signs of intelligence tell you more than a test.

IQ tests measure one's intellectual abilities and potential, also known as one's "intelligence quotient." Rather than testing for taught knowledge, these tests reveal insights about your mental faculties by evaluating abstract reasoning, language, processing speed, visual-spatial understanding, memory, mathematical reasoning, and more. Though IQ tests are not uncontroversial—many believe them to carry biases or primarily measure motivation—they may suggest higher or lower overall intelligence compared with one's peers. Perhaps more importantly, they can also offer a new way of understanding your own mind. Haven't taken the test, but wondering if you may have a high IQ? These are the eight signs you'd likely test high, cognitive experts say.

RELATED: The 6 Smartest Myers-Briggs Personality Types, Experts Say.

You're a quick learner.

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It will perhaps come as no surprise that those with a high IQ tend to be quick learners. That's because they're able to make meaningful connections to form deep understanding and implement what they've learned.

"People with high IQs have the capacity to grasp new concepts quickly," says Ronald J. Swatzyna, PhD, a doctor of neurophysiology who works with Brain Code Centers. "They possess a strong aptitude for acquiring and retaining knowledge across various domains, allowing them to excel in academic and professional settings."

You have high emotional intelligence.

Woman journaling in bed
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Having a high IQ doesn't necessarily mean you'll also have a high EQ, or emotional quotient. After all, we all know that there are plenty of geniuses who lack basic social-emotional skills.

However, Swatzyna says that these two gifts can also go hand in hand. "Contrary to popular belief, emotional intelligence is strongly associated with high IQ," he says. "Intelligent people tend to have a heightened awareness of their own emotions and are more adept at understanding and empathizing with the emotions of others."

Leslie Dobson, PsyD, a clinical and forensic psychologist based in Long Beach, California, adds that those with a high IQ are more likely to be able to use their rational and emotional thinking simultaneously. "As a psychologist, I test for a high IQ. When individuals have a high IQ, I usually see an ability to hold a lot of thoughts in the head while also feeling emotions," she tells Best Life.

RELATED: 11 Things People With High Emotional Intelligence Do Every Day.

You have a great long-term memory.


While the IQ test isn't meant to evaluate learned content, it does measure your capacity for learning and your ability to crystalize that content into more permanent knowledge and understanding.

That's why remembering the things you learned in grade school may actually be a sign of a high IQ. "They can learn at any age, but they also maintain things they've learned throughout their lives," Dobson says of individuals who earn high marks on the test.

You can communicate complex things in simple terms.

man making suggestion will talking to colleague
Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

Many people think they'll be more impressive to others by using ten-dollar words whenever possible—and indeed having a wide vocabulary is a sign of high intelligence. However, Dobson says it's actually a greater sign of intelligence to be able to communicate big ideas in simple terms.

She explains that when she interacts with individuals who have a high IQ, their "communication and language skills are strong and they are able to speak at high levels with jargon." However, they can also "explain complex ideas to a third grader."

"A hallmark trait of high intelligence is strong verbal skills. These people effortlessly articulate their ideas, possess an extensive vocabulary, and communicate concisely and persuasively," agrees Swatzyna.

RELATED: What Your Favorite Color Says About Your Personality, According to Therapists.

You have strong critical thinking skills.

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Critical thinking is another major sign of high intelligence. If you're able to look at a situation and form an objective analysis, this could mean you have a high IQ.

"As a rule, high-IQ people excel at logical reasoning and critical thinking," says Swatzyna. "They can evaluate information objectively, draw connections between seemingly unrelated concepts, and make accurate judgments based on evidence and reasoning," he tells Best Life.

You're a pro at problem-solving.

Business owner doing to the books at a cafe with a waitress

Your ability to get yourself out of a jam is another often-overlooked sign of a high IQ.

"High intelligence is often marked by the ability to effectively analyze complex problems and devise innovative solutions. These people possess a quick and accurate thinking style, enabling them to navigate intricate challenges efficiently," says Swatzyna.

Part of this is likely due to their ability to anticipate problems before they arrive. "People with high intelligence often possess exceptional foresight. They have an innate ability to anticipate potential issues and devise strategies to overcome them, leading to effective decision-making and problem-solving," he adds.

RELATED: 7 Easy Things You Can Do Every Day to Keep Your Mind Sharp.

You find yourself daydreaming often.

Young smiling man lounging in a hammock.
Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko / Shutterstock

According to James A. Barham, PhD, an education expert and the senior vice president of Academic Influence, you may also have a high IQ if you often lose yourself in a daydream.

"Daydreaming is associated with intelligence and creativity. An efficient brain function correlates with more frequent daydreaming episodes, indicating the mind's ability to process information and wander," he explains.

You're comfortable sitting with ambiguity.

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Those with a high IQ are often more confident than their peers, and more comfortable in their belief that things will work out, Dobson says.

For many high-IQ individuals, this may translate into better endurance in uncomfortable situations. "A high tolerance for ambiguity and comfort with making decisions in uncertain situations are also typical of intelligent individuals," adds Barham.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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