Factors Parents Should Consider Before Testing Gifted Children

Pinpoint the best time to test and the cost of the assessment

Students Taking a Test.
Students Taking a Test. Yellow Dog Productions/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Before testing a potentially gifted child, parents should take a number of factors into consideration. Making this move will help them avoid the pitfalls that parents who test children with no clear reason for doing so run into. Identify the top reasons to get children tested for giftedness, the types of tests to use and more with this list of tips.

The Top Reasons to Test Gifted Children

If you suspect your child is gifted, testing him will allow you to get details about his specific learning needs, including strengths and weaknesses.

Testing may also help your child get placed into a gifted program, where he can likely develop his strengths further and learn to manage or improve his weaknesses. Testing gifted children may lead to the identification of learning disabilities that require intervention and special accommodations from schools. This information can help parents serve as special education advocates for their children if need be.

When to Test

The best time to test gifted children is between the ages of 4 and 8. Testing before age 4 is likely to result in unreliable scores because a child's behavior is too unpredictable. Testing after age 8 can result in inaccurate scores.

Inaccuracies can be caused by several factors, including test ceilings, perfectionism, and underachievement. That said, many gifted children won't be identified as such until after age 8. If that's the case with your child, find out if the school is willing to conduct testing as well as use portfolios of the child's work and other measures to assess the child's giftedness.


Which Kinds of Tests

The two primary types of tests parents think about when they consider testing for their gifted children are IQ tests and achievement tests. IQ tests measure ability, while achievement tests measure what a child already knows. Schools often give group IQ tests, such as the Otis-Lennon.

Individual IQ tests, like the WISC-IV, are more accurate for gifted children. But both group and individual achievement tests have pros and cons. Speak with school officials to get a better sense of the test that's most suitable for your child.

Who Should Test

Testing should be done by someone who has experience working with gifted children. Otherwise, test results may not be accurate. For example, a tester begins by asking the child the easiest questions and continues asking until the child misses a certain consecutive number of questions. An experienced tester will know to start with more difficult questions, so the child won't get tired or bored, which can cause the child to make mistakes. This can, in turn, lead to a low and inaccurate score.

Costs of Gifted Testing

Testing can cost anywhere from $200 to $700. The average rate is between $500 and $600 and generally includes both IQ and achievement tests. The cost is the same whether the tester has experience with gifted children or not, so be sure to ask any prospective tester about his or her experience. Graduate psychology students at a nearby university may do testing for a couple hundred dollars. However, they may not have experience with gifted children.