New research has found that a year of schooling can improve IQ scores.
The study, published in Psychological Science, conducted by the University of Edinburgh, looked at 42 datasets using several different research designs and found that, overall, adding an extra year of schooling in this way improved people’s IQ scores by between one and five points.
While research shows the number of years of schooling and intelligence are correlated, it is unclear as to whether this is because education boosts intelligence or because individuals who start off with higher IQ scores are likely to stay in school for longer.
To find out more, psychological scientist, Dr Stuart J. Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh and his co-author conducted a meta-analysis combining all the previous studies to come up with an overall result for how much education boosts intelligence.
“The most surprising thing was how long-lasting the effects seemed to be, appearing even for people who completed intelligence tests in their 70s and 80s. Something about that educational boost seemed to be beneficial right across the lifespan,” he said.
Dr Ritchie said “a crucial next step” will be to uncover the mechanisms of these educational effects on intelligence in order to inform educational policy and practice.
The latest study adds to a growing body of research that shows the number of years of schooling and intelligence are correlated.
A study from Norway by Taryn Ann Galloway, a researcher at the University of Oslo, found that young men who were forced to stay in school for two years longer had higher IQs.
“Based on that, we were able to say that increasing compulsory schooling did actually have an effect on their cognitive abilities as measured at 19 years of age,” Galloway told VOA.
According to Galloway, students who got a full two years of extra schooling showed an IQ gain of more than 7 points. Those with just one additional year of compulsory education during the phase in period gained approximately 3.7 IQ points.
The average IQ score on the intelligence test is 100, with most of the population falling somewhere between 85 and 115 on the scale.
“I think it’s because you do learn general thinking skills at school and you are able to practice them, and you have lots of opportunity to practice them,” Galloway said.