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Disparity between Verbal and Nonverbal Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My 6 year old daughter (in Kindergarten) has always appeared gifted in that she knew how to spell her name at 18 months, had 1:1 correspondence at 26 months, could read at 4, is now reading at 3rd grade levels, has always required little rest or sleep time, and is exceedingly creative. She just had a K-Bit test administered at school and scored a 133 verbal, 96 nonverbal. Her nonverbal age equivalent was younger than her age and by all accounts from her teachers, friends and family she is exceedingly mature for her age. The administrator said that the split is fairly uncommon.

Educators in our family as well as ourselves (parents) are confused. She had an off day that day and was exhausted but I don't know whether that would have had any effect on the test results. It is a shock to say the least and she cannot now qualify for "gifted" testing this spring. Can you share any thoughts about the disparity? Should we continue testing "outside the system" or be working on any areas with her? My research suggests constructing maps but she is already quite adept at navigational computer games, constructive play in terms of building toys and models, as well as sketching/drawing. Thank you!

A: A little about the test; the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT) is a brief, individually administered screener of verbal and nonverbal. The scales have some benefits; it is quick and easily administered by a wide range of personnel. The nonverbal test is ideal for non-readers, the hearing impaired and learning disabled. By measuring two distinct cognitive functions through two subtests, K-BIT gives a balanced assessment.

A significant disparity between verbal and nonverbal scores may as in your daughter's case may suggest a language difficulty but I'm afraid that's about all I can tell. However, based on the description of people around her, this is rather strange. Nevertheless, just basing on the scores alone, it is really hard to determine the reason for the disparity. It is also possible that her emotions and anxiety level on the day of the test may have influenced the results; however, the gap should not have been that wide. You may want to further monitor her learning to determine if indeed there is any area of concern. Alternatively, you may want to get a second opinion professionally by testing her. My suggestion is that for now; get a second opinion outside the system as you mentioned to understand the problem. Here is wishing the best of luck.


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