Parents' Guide to Understanding the Intelligence Test Results

Wechsler Verbal Comprehension Subtests

Information - fund of general knowledge; long-term memory; recall

The Information subtest reflects two factors in the child's development of language and knowledge: 1) The richness of the child's verbal environment during his development is reflected in the fund of knowledge. 2) The ability to store that knowledge in long-term memory, recall it, and verbally express it is an individual ability that is measured by the Information subtest.

Similarities - Verbal categories and concepts; abstract verbal reasoning

In order to store language and information in long-term memory, humans use a process of categorization and conceptualization that develops from the concrete to the abstract. The Similarities subtest captures the child's ability to mentally process verbal information, categorizing and conceptualizing information in the long-term memory store. Over the course of the child's development, their conceptual skills progress from concrete to abstract reasoning, a process that is reflected in the Similarities subtest.

Arithmetic - Numerical reasoning; attention and concentration

The numerical tasks of the Arithmetic subtest are worked out "in the child's head". She must have the ability to attend to the verbally presented problem and concentrate on working out the answer in her short-term memory. The Arithmetic subtest requires a level of freedom from distractibility that is considered a factor in overall intelligence.

Performance on Arithmetic also requires a mastery of the mathematical operations required by each item, and therefore reveals information on the child's achievement in arithmetic learning.

Vocabulary - Language development; word knowledge; verbal fluency

The Vocabulary subtest reflects both the child's knowledge of words and a higher order ability to categorize words by their meanings, to retrieve that information, and express it with verbal fluency.

Quite an advanced task that again demonstrates both the richness of the child's language environment and his natural ability to process that language.

Comprehension - Understanding social rules and ethics; common sense and judgment

The Comprehension subtest is based on social comprehension, a skill that is deficient in many LD and ADHD children. The social understanding that underlies the Comprehension subtest is greatly influenced by environment. Ethical judgment may be lacking for a variety of reasons - intellectual, environmental, and emotional. For children with significantly weak comprehension subtest scores, direct instruction in social skills may be required. Again, the Comprehension subtest performance is related to the child's ability to express himself verbally.

Digit Span - Short-term auditory memory; concentration and attention

The Digit Span subtest is often excluded from the WISC-III administration and is not required to obtain the IQ scores. It is included in an assessment of the factor known as Freedom from Distractibility.

An examiner may use the Digit Span subtest to suggest a possible ADD/ADHD diagnosis, particularly if it correlates with the other Freedom from Distractibility subtests - Arithmetic and Coding. High Digit Span scores suggest a superior ability to concentrate and memorize orally presented information.

*Note - In the WICS-IV, Digit Span is included in the Full Scale IQ in the Working Memory Scale with a new subtest called Letter-Number Sequencing.

Wechsler Verbal Comprehension Subtests

Information - fund of general knowledge; long-term memory; recall

The Information subtest reflects two factors in the child's development of language and knowledge: 1) The richness of the child's verbal environment during his development is reflected in the fund of knowledge. 2) The ability to store that knowledge in long-term memory, recall it, and verbally express it is an individual ability that is measured by the Information subtest.

Similarities - Verbal categories and concepts; abstract verbal reasoning

In order to store language and information in long-term memory, humans use a process of categorization and conceptualization that develops from the concrete to the abstract. The Similarities subtest captures the child's ability to mentally process verbal information, categorizing and conceptualizing information in the long-term memory store. Over the course of the child's development, their conceptual skills progress from concrete to abstract reasoning, a process that is reflected in the Similarities subtest.

Arithmetic - Numerical reasoning; attention and concentration

The numerical tasks of the Arithmetic subtest are worked out "in the child's head". She must have the ability to attend to the verbally presented problem and concentrate on working out the answer in her short-term memory. The Arithmetic subtest requires a level of freedom from distractibility that is considered a factor in overall intelligence. Performance on Arithmetic also requires a mastery of the mathematical operations required by each item, and therefore reveals information on the child's achievement in arithmetic learning.

Vocabulary - Language development; word knowledge; verbal fluency

The Vocabulary subtest reflects both the child's knowledge of words and a higher order ability to categorize words by their meanings, to retrieve that information, and express it with verbal fluency. Quite an advanced task that again demonstrates both the richness of the child's language environment and his natural ability to process that language.

Comprehension - Understanding social rules and ethics; common sense and judgment

The Comprehension subtest is based on social comprehension, a skill that is deficient in many LD and ADHD children. The social understanding that underlies the Comprehension subtest is greatly influenced by environment. Ethical judgment may be lacking for a variety of reasons - intellectual, environmental, and emotional. For children with significantly weak comprehension subtest scores, direct instruction in social skills may be required. Again, the Comprehension subtest performance is related to the child's ability to express himself verbally.

Digit Span - Short-term auditory memory; concentration and attention

The Digit Span subtest is often excluded from the WISC-III administration and is not required to obtain the IQ scores. It is included in an assessment of the factor known as Freedom from Distractibility. An examiner may use the Digit Span subtest to suggest a possible ADD/ADHD diagnosis, particularly if it correlates with the other Freedom from Distractibility subtests - Arithmetic and Coding. High Digit Span scores suggest a superior ability to concentrate and memorize orally presented information.

*Note - In the WICS-IV, Digit Span is included in the Full Scale IQ in the Working Memory Scale with a new subtest called Letter-Number Sequencing.

Picture Completion - Visual discrimination; attention to visual detail

The skill reflected by the Picture Completion subtest is not visual acuity; it is visual discrimination. The child must look at the visual whole presented and analyze its parts to identify what is missing. A relatively simple task, poor performance in an LD child may be related to visual-perceptual difficulties or environmental awareness.

*Note - Picture Completion is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Picture Arrangement - Attention to visual detail; social knowledge; sequencing and planning

More complicated than Picture Completion, excellent performance requires a confluence of visual perceptual ability, social understanding, and higher order thinking and planning. A weakness on the Picture Arrangement subtest may suggest a deficiency in one or all of these abilities. *Note - Picture Arrangement is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Block Design - Abstract visual-perceptual ability; spatial and nonverbal problem-solving

A pure test of perceptual intelligence, Block Design is the only Perceptual subtest that factors heavily with overall intelligence. Block Design will give you a good clue to innate intellectual potential. However, Block Design is a visual-motor task and poor performance may be developmental or related to a motor deficiency.

Object Assembly - Visual analysis and construction of a whole from its parts

The Object Assembly subtest score reflects the visual-motor skills of puzzle construction. The child must analyze the object and construct the whole visual object from its parts within time constraints. *Note - Object Assembly is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Coding - Visual motor coordination; speed; concentration

An interesting performance subtest that measures visual motor skill. Coding gives clues to basic deficiencies in visual motor performance needed for writing. Good short-term memory improves performance on coding. It also factors with freedom from distractibility and the ability to concentrate to accomplish a visual motor task within time constraints.

Wechsler Perceptual Organization and Reasoning Subtests

Picture Completion - Visual discrimination; attention to visual detail

The skill reflected by the Picture Completion subtest is not visual acuity; it is visual discrimination. The child must look at the visual whole presented and analyze its parts to identify what is missing. A relatively simple task, poor performance in an LD child may be related to visual-perceptual difficulties or environmental awareness. *Note - Picture Completion is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Picture Arrangement - Attention to visual detail; social knowledge; sequencing and planning

More complicated than Picture Completion, excellent performance requires a confluence of visual perceptual ability, social understanding, and higher order thinking and planning. A weakness on the Picture Arrangement subtest may suggest a deficiency in one or all of these abilities. *Note - Picture Arrangement is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Block Design - Abstract visual-perceptual ability; spatial and nonverbal problem-solving

A pure test of perceptual intelligence, Block Design is the only Perceptual subtest that factors heavily with overall intelligence. Block Design will give you a good clue to innate intellectual potential. However, Block Design is a visual-motor task and poor performance may be developmental or related to a motor deficiency.

Object Assembly - Visual analysis and construction of a whole from its parts

The Object Assembly subtest score reflects the visual-motor skills of puzzle construction. The child must analyze the object and construct the whole visual object from its parts within time constraints. *Note - Object Assembly is eliminated in the WISC-IV.

Coding - Visual motor coordination; speed; concentration

An interesting performance subtest that measures visual motor skill. Coding gives clues to basic deficiencies in visual motor performance needed for writing. Good short-term memory improves performance on coding. It also factors with freedom from distractibility and the ability to concentrate to accomplish a visual motor task within time constraints.

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