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Bright or Gifted?

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 6 yr daughter just received the following scores on the WISC-IV test:

VCI 124
PRI 129
WMI 110
PSI 88
FSIQ 120

I have been doing some research and apparently the VCI & PRI are much more indicative of giftedness. Is this true? If so, is her IQ likely closer to 130 than 120? The psychologist who tested her said she was 100% accurate but worked slowly on the coding & symbol search subtests. My daughter is a perfectionist so this does not surprise me. She has many gifted qualities. She also took the Woodcock-Johnson III achievement test; her Academic Knowledge score was 133, placing her in the 99 percentile. Is she bright or gifted? Would it serve any purpose to retest her in a few years?

A: These terms have long been debated and sometimes used interchangeably. To determine the differences between bright and gifted, the table in BowNET website can be particularly helpful.

Approximately 68 percent of the population would score in the average range of the scores on the WISC (85-115). Above that range, individuals may be considered above average. To give you a reliable estimation of the scores average; based on a clinical validity study of the WISC-IV (The Psychological Corporation), intellectually gifted children tend to score the following:

Composite Mean
VCI 124.7
PRI 120.4
WMI 112.5
PSI 110.6
FSIQ 123.5

It is true that the main indicators are the VCI and PRI, but to determine giftedness in general, usually the full scores are used in most programs. In this case, it is hard to determine if her scores would be closer to 130 just by looking at the VCI and PRI. You can retest her after a couple of years once you have worked on her strengths and weaknesses and help her develop her potentials better.

For now, what is important is not whether she is gifted or bright; but to work on her weak areas and help her strengthen her strong areas.

You may also want to take a look at the chart below to see the fine differences between high achievers (bright), gifted learners and creative thinkers. Above average children may fall in any of these categories:

Chart Comparing High Achievers, Gifted Learners, or Creative Thinkers

A High Achiever... A Gifted Learner ... A Creative Thinker ....
Remembers the answers Poses unforeseen questions Sees exceptions
Is interested Is curious Wonders
Is attentive Is selectively mentally engaged Daydreams; may seem off task
Generates advanced ideas Generates complex, abstract ideas Overflows with ideas, many of which will never be developed
Works hard to achieve Knows without working hard Plays with ideas and concepts
Answer the questions in detail Ponders with depth and multiple perspectives Inject new possibilities
Performs at the tops of the group Is beyond the group Is in own group
Responds with interest and opinions Exhibits feelings and opinions from multiple perspectives Shares bizarre, sometimes conflicting opinions
Learns with ease Already knows Questions: What if....
Needs 6 to 8 repetitions to master Needs 1 to 3 repetitions to master Questions the need for mastery
Enjoys the company of age peers Prefers the company of intellectual peers Prefers the company of creative peers but often works alone
Understands complex, abstract humor Creates complex, abstract humor Relishes wild, off-the-wall humor
Grasps the meaning Infers and connects concepts Makes mental leaps: Aha!
Completes assignments on time Initiates projects and extensions of assignments Initiates more projects that will ever be completed
Is receptive Is intense Is independent and unconventional
Is accurate and complete Is original and continually developing Is original and continually developing
Enjoys school often Enjoys self-directed learning Enjoys creating
Absorbs information Manipulates information Improvises
Is a technician with expertise in a field Is an expert who abstracts beyond the field Is an inventor and idea generator
Memorizes well Guesses and infers well Creates and brainstorms well
Is highly alert and observant Anticipates and relates observations Is intuitive
Is pleased with own learning Is self-critical Is never finished with possibilities
Gets A's May not be motivated by grades May not be motivated by grades
Is able Is intellectual Is idiosyncratic



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