After all, I’ve been working on my own since I was in kindergarten.
I remember an older neighbor kid teaching me the word “hilarious.” In fact, I fell in love with language at that precise moment while talking with her and playing on the swings.
A few years later I distinctly recall trying to guess what the word “ramification” meant based on the context of the book I was reading.
And to this day I still memorize vocabulary to maintain high verbal intelligence – and get it as high as I possibly can.
It’s too valuable to let it slip, after all.
The ability to navigate the world through language creates so many opportunities.
And so much joy.
So if you’re ready to deeply understand what your verbal intelligence is and how to improve it, let’s dive in.
Verbal Intelligence Defined
Verbal intelligence comes down to a few things.
I believe Buzan was making a specific reference to the memory techniques he was so famous for promoting (techniques like the alphabetical pegword method and Major System). Buzan was so influential that Moonwalking with Einstein wouldn’t have happened without him.
The second important aspect of verbal intelligence is the size of your vocabulary. Whenever people ask me how to read faster, I always tell them that increasing your vocabulary is the number one thing to improve.
Finally, verbal intelligence comes down to your understanding of word parts, such as roots, prefixes and suffixes.
Does High Verbal Intelligence Come From Nature or Nurture?
None of it comes down to either nature or nurture. Studies have shown that there are too many variables to make any hard and fast statements either way.
It’s not even obvious that environmental factors play a role. For example, I’m an author and my brother is an industrial mechanic, welder and highly credentialed foreman. He’s never read much, but I always have.
Both of us had the exact same access to books and tools growing up. He was just drawn more to working in the garage with my dad, and I was more interested in reading the books inside.
At the end of the day, I’d say we’re both equally intelligent. But I’ll probably write a better book than my brother ever will, but at a cost. I can’t change a tire or the oil in a vehicle to save my life. And his knowledge of how to do things like weld underwater always impresses me.
This is an important point because verbal intelligence is really useful and important. But it’s not the only kind of intelligence.
Verbal Intelligence Examples: How to Spot a High Verbal IQ
Due to memory biases and things like the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it can be hard to spot true verbal intelligence. Lots of people can repeat things they’ve heard, but still don’t understand them very well.
Or it’s possible to understand things, but have verbal memory or other issues that prevent you from enunciating what you know clearly.
But the question remains:
How do you recognize verbal intelligence when you see it?
Let’s look at some examples.
Example One: Mature Speech Behaviors
You can generally tell a lot by the maturity a person brings to their speech, no matter what their age.
For example, brain scans show that teenagers with high verbal IQ have much more white matter in the linguistic areas of the brain. If you look closely at this study, you see that some teenagers have much more white matter in the brain areas related to hands.
This could explain why my brother is so good with his hands, but I am not. He’s not very talkative either, but I am. I can also switch from being very serious and scholarly, to being completely casual or even a bit of a comedian. He’s much more consistent in his mannerisms.
Example Two: Verbal Complexity
Look for whether people speak in complete sentences, the kinds of words they use and how they use language.
Do they use a lot of metaphors? Do they illustrate their ideas with quotes? Or do they usually say very little and give only short and simple answers?
Example Three: Love Of “Bookish” Learning
People with high IQ tend to seek out opportunities to learn where reading and writing is involved precisely because it helps them exercise their verbal intelligence.
Others may avoid learning such situations and only undertake them when absolutely required for school or employment.
But these people may be the first ones to seek out certifications that allow them to learn on the job or at workshops.
Can Tests Help You Determine Your Verbal IQ?
In a word, it depends.
Here are a few ways to get tested.
Free Online Tests
For example, this verbal IQ test asks you a bunch of questions.
But when I took it, it only gave me a score. It didn’t give me any insight about the 3 questions it says I got wrong.
Basically, any test you find for free on the Internet is basically going to produce something like this.
But if you have any critical thinking abilities, you’re going to be skeptical about it these kinds of results.
Sentence Completion Tests
Get out a timer and see how long it takes you to find an answer for the blank spot on this sentence:
“John had a look of ________ on his face when he found out that someone stole his guitar.”
For that test, there’s a fairly obvious range of appropriate answers.
You can also test by finding more complex tests that require creativity. For example, many hiring managers show people a paper clip and ask them to list how many different ways it could be used. This is basically the same as a sentence completion test.
Many brain exercises also boil down to variations on sentence completion tests.
Play Word Games
You’ll need to figure out a way to score yourself in some cases. But that activity can in itself help you improve your verbal intelligence.
Test Your Reading Comprehension
You’ve probably heard that Alexander the Great was tutored by Aristotle.
I mention it because because having tutors in philosophy was once very common. Fortunately, I did a PhD and got to experience a bit of what that was like through some “directed reading” programs I completed. These were courses I completed one-on-one with some very successful professors.
Basically, they did this by requiring me to write summaries of everything I read as part of their courses. This was a powerful means of testing my comprehension because writing creates reflection on what words mean.
If you don’t have access to such people, a great way to test your comprehension is to get in a reading group. Read and participate in the discussions. You’ll find out pretty quickly how much you understand and give your verbal reasoning skills a great workout.
Read Word Books That Include Tests
One of my favorite books for testing my verbal intelligence?
Word Power Made Easy by Normal Lewis.
There are a lot of books like this and they’re great fun.
When using them, I prefer to not write in the books themselves. Instead, I complete the verbal tests in a notebook.
That way, I can take the tests again in the future without seeing my previous answers.
Develop a High Verbal Intelligence With These 3 Exercises
As you go through these exercises, there’s no particular order.
The key thing is to complete such exercises consistently and track your progress, ideally in a journal dedicated to your self-improvement.
All of them are powerful and all of them are exercises myself and many other people use to consistently improve our verbal intelligence.
One: Memorize Vocabulary
Since verbal intelligence is all about your ability to use language accurately and efficiently, it only makes sense to learn new words.
Also, consider a variety of words that relate to your career and mix in words that are just plain interesting or random.
And as I mentioned before, pay close attention to the word parts, especially prefixes and suffixes.
Two: Memorize Verbatim Text
When people ask me about my speaking skills, I tell them that I wasn’t always very good at it.
Memorizing poems and song lyrics is very beneficial as well.
The great thing about speeches, poems and songs that they include rhetorical devices. The wordplay will open your mind to how to better manipulate language as you speak or write it yourself.
Keep in mind that you can explore memorizing both traditional language, or experimental language. I’ve enjoyed learning parts of Ursonate for an additional level of verbal workout, for example.
Three: Learn Another Language
Bilingualism is well-known to protect your brain. And it obviously does a lot to build your vocabulary.
But learning a new language also helps you understand your mother tongue better. New insights occur to you because you compare and contrast what you’re learning to what you already know.
And knowing more about how your native language works boosts your abilities with it.
The best part?
But make sure that you also get lots of reading, speaking and especially listening practice in. This will help with your acoustic encoding, which the brain uses to help you deal with understanding what you hear.
Some people will also benefit by adding books on linguistics to the menu. I know I certainly have!
Boosting Verbal Intelligence Is Easy
There’s a bit of a paradox in saying that it’s easy to boost your verbal intelligence.
You do have to challenge it. And that’s going to feel hard sometimes.
But setting up the situations where you challenge it is relatively easy.
And when the exercises get too easy, you’ll want to voluntarily make them more challenging.
I call this “balancing the challenge-frustration curve.” In other words, whenever something gets simple, you need to add a bit more difficulty to ensure that you keep growing.
One way to do that while continually boosting your brain’s ability to use words in sophisticated ways is to train your memory.
If you’re interested in a fun and interesting way to do that, please sign up for my FREE Memory Improvement Course:
It will help you commit as many words as you like to memory.
And that’s the most direct way of all to not only improve your verbal intelligence. It gives you a simple, yet refined way to test your progress as you go.
So what do you say?
Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of improved verbal intelligence?