Originally, IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, was used to detect persons of lower intelligence, and to detect children of lower intelligence in order to place them in special education programs. The first IQ tests were designed to compare a child's intelligence to what his or her intelligence "should be" as compared to the child's age. If the child was significantly "smarter" than a "normal" child of his or her age, the child was given a higher score, and if the child scored lower than expected for a child of his or her age, the child was given a lower IQ score.
Today IQ testing is used not primarily for children, but for adults. Today we attempt to write tests that will determine an adult's true mental potential, unbiased by culture, and compare scores to the scores of other adults who have taken the same test. So today we compare an adult's objective results to the objective results of other adults, and determine how intelligent each test taker is compared to all other test takers, instead of comparing test takers to an arbitrary age related standard.