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Taking an Intelligence Test

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: We live in the US. Elementary school is until 5th grade, then schools change and the children go to a new school for 6,7,8th grade. I have 2 children. The younger one is in 2nd grade and took a series of IQ tests at the request of the school. He scored a 135 on the Wechsler IV IQ test for children. The older child has not taken an IQ test, she will be in a new school beginning in September. What should I do?

1. Should I request that she take an IQ test in September? Should I wait a year for her to get used to the new school?

2. Is there any preparation she can do now to get ready to take an IQ test?

A: For your first question, find out the reason the school had not requested for an intelligence test for her. As these tests are costly, they are usually only administered when there is a need. Also you need to establish why the test should be taken. Is it merely to check her level of general intelligence? Or to identify areas of strength and weakness? Do you suspect that she may have a higher level of intelligence that warrants for a differentiated programme? Once you establish the reason for testing, expectations would be reasonable and no undue pressure on the child.

As for waiting, it does not really matter as these tests are scored based on age. The Wechsler's are normed based on each quarter of each age group (e.g., for an 11 year old child, scoring would be group based on difference ranges; 11-11.3, 11.4 -11.7; 11.8-11.11 and so on). However, there may be other factors that can affects the scores, though probably not as significant for example stress and anxiety. Being in a new school may have an impact on her. If the impact is positive, then you would not need to wait. What is learnt at school should not affect responses on intelligence.

On your second question, there are various “practice” tests around. I am certainly not in favour of “preparing” a child for an intelligence test as I feel it defeats the purpose of testing intelligence. If one can practice and learn how to take such tests, then the test does not really measure innate intelligence as it is supposed to. It would serve the same purpose of any achievement test. An intelligence test has the sole purpose to measure a child's intellectual functioning in comparison her/his peers of the same age range. If by practice, scores are elevated just to get into a special programme, it may not even suit the child. There is no “elitism” in any gifted programme admission. It is meant for children who need that kind of enrichment, just as special children (the other extreme) need special programmes.

However, if you really want to have your child practice for the WISC-IV, you may want to look up this book (very costly though): The Test Tutor: WISC-IV Preparation Kit.. But, please also read the reviews before you buy.

Good luck with your journey!


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