The Gardner Multiple Intelligence Test: What It Is And How It’s Used

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated September 8, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

There are thousands of tests available on the internet that claim to measure intelligence. Some are scientific, while others are made with fun in mind. Taking these tests can offer insights into personality, intelligence, mental health, and other factors. However, online tests do not replace official diagnostic testing with a licensed professional. 

An intelligence assessment often searched for online is Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Test (MIT). To understand how this test works, it can be helpful to know the reasons it was developed and what it can be used for.

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What Is The Gardner Intelligence Test? 

Developed by psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983, the Gardner Intelligence test infers that intelligence isn't one single unit of measurement but multiple. Some may see this theory as a common-sense approach to intelligence assessment, as many people may struggle in one area but excel in others. A model that limits intelligence to mathematical or scientific ability can be limiting. 

Gardner suggests that struggling in an area of intelligence doesn't mean you're unintelligent. It can point to other areas where you succeed when people with "traditional" forms of intelligence might not, such as art or emotions. 

What Are Gardner's Measures Of Intelligence? 

Gardner proposed that there are eight types of intelligence that all humans possess, with some being stronger than others, depending on your unique profile. These measures include the following categories. 

Musical Intelligence

Someone with a high musical-harmonic intelligence type may find it easy to compose music, understand music theory, and play an instrument. A person with musical intelligence may be able to sing, play instruments, read music, identify the key, and keep perfect pitch. These individuals may go on to succeed in a career or education in music. 

Visual-Spatial Intelligence 

Visual-spatial intelligence refers to the ability to paint a visual picture in your mind. For example, bestselling fiction authors may have excellent spatial judgment, visualizing characters or settings in their minds and translating them to paper. In addition, inventors can see their invention in their mind's eye, often prompting them to create an idea or product that has never been publicly developed. 

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence 

Those with high verbal intelligence may excel in using words. These individuals may be writers and lyricists. They know which words to use and can quickly memorize and organize words, grammar, and structure in their minds. These individuals may also excel in learning new languages. 

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence 

Logical-mathematical intelligence involves more than excelling in math. Those with high critical thinking and reasoning skills often also have high logical-mathematical intelligence. These individuals may be able to see multiple sides to a problem, solve math equations, follow the scientific method, and create formulas. 

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence 

Those with high levels of bodily intelligence are considered naturally adept at physical activity. This trait extends beyond sports, however. You may have high bodily intelligence if you are skilled in handling objects, dancing, or acting.

This type of intelligence overlaps with many other forms of intelligence. For example, artists who make art with their hands may have high bodily and visual-spatial intelligence. People high in musical intelligence may have high bodily intelligence if they sing or play an instrument. 

Interpersonal Intelligence

People with high interpersonal skills often work well in a group. They can read the moods and feelings of others and are considered naturally intuitive in social situations. However, you don't have to be extroverted to have high interpersonal intelligence. 

You may have high interpersonal intelligence if you can make conversation easily, enjoy sharing your ideas, and try to see the best in others. Public figures such as teachers, salespeople, counselors, social workers, and healers may have a high rating in this category. 

Intrapersonal Intelligence 

Those with high levels of intrapersonal intelligence are mindful and have high self-awareness. They can recognize their weaknesses, know how to react to a situation, and reflect on their actions. They may seek knowledge above all else for self-growth and enjoy attending therapy or becoming a therapist themselves. 

Naturalistic Intelligence 

Gardner originally proposed the seven types of intelligence above. Naturalistic intelligence was the eighth type proposed after the first seven. 

Those who have high naturalist intelligence may succeed in any situation involving nature. For example, hunters may be more successful because they feel at home in the natural environment. A botanist may experience a special connection to plants and nature, giving them a talent for classifying and understanding plant life. The farmer's connection with the land provides them with knowledge of how to reap a harvest in the middle of changing conditions. 

Other Forms Of Intelligence 

Gardner is still growing and developing his theory, attempting to find new forms of intelligence and categorize human experience. He has considered existential intelligence, where someone thrives on questioning the role humanity has and the purpose of life. Gardner has also investigated teaching intelligence, which may allow someone to enjoy teaching others and thrive in an environment where they can share knowledge.

Criticisms Of Gardner's Theories 

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence can provide interesting insights. However, some of its suppositions have not been verified using the scientific method in the scientific community. Some scientists argue that the results can be unreliable or that someone's skill set does not necessarily reflect their intelligence. 

Initially, the test aimed to broaden human understanding of the definition of intelligence and identify intelligence strengths in individuals. As time progressed, professionals began using the test to determine people's projected learning styles and tailor learning curricula to fit those styles. 

While the idea is well-meaning, it can be limited within the context of children's learning and development. To quote Gardner himself, "Multiple intelligences should not, in and of itself, be an educational goal." Gardner also pointed out that people's levels of intelligence can change with time and exposure. For example, if you have a knack for verbal linguistics, you may still be able to cultivate logic-mathematical skills in the future. 

Gardner's intelligence test was not developed to be the only way of measuring your intelligence. However, it may provide insight into your strengths and areas for improvement. 

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Professional Support In Interpreting Your Results 

Psychologically, Gardner MIT can be helpful for people looking to make a life change. Perhaps they are unhappy with their job and are looking for a more fulfilling career, or maybe they're ready to enter the professional world but unsure where to begin. The test can offer suggestions of how people may excel professionally. 

Consulting with a psychologist may be beneficial if you have questions about your results. In addition to addressing mental health challenges, some people seek therapy to understand life goals, personality, and relationships. However, others may avoid traditional therapy due to inaccessibility or financial difficulties. Online counseling through platforms like BetterHelp has revolutionized mental healthcare by eliminating some of these barriers to treatment. 

Online therapy provides a way for people to receive the same quality of treatment available in a traditional setting at home, often at more affordable rates than in-person therapy without insurance. Through online therapy, you can connect with licensed, accredited mental health professionals on your own time via phone, video, or live chat sessions.  


The Gardner Multiple Intelligence test explores the idea of eight types of intelligence. With many intelligence tests focusing on one area of intelligence only, this test attempts to diversify what it means to be smart. However, like other intelligence tests, the Gardner MIT is based on theories and is not a replacement for professional support. To further understand your intelligence and personality, consider reaching out to a licensed counselor for support.

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