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By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: What is known about the WIPPSI-III? Is it a reliable measure of intelligence in preschoolers? What does each component measure? What does it mean for a child's future development? How does it compare with the WISC-IV and why would one test be used over another in 6-year olds? Since the WIPPSI doesn't require reading, how does it measure this capacity? What if a 4 - 5 year old child is already reading at a grade 2/3 level?

A: I assume that you meant the WPPSI III (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence - Third Edition). This is a test for preschooler which is from the Wechsler's group of tests that can be tested for children from 2.6 to 7.3 years of age. It is said to accurately measure intellectual abilities in young children. This newer version features shorter, more game-like activities that hold the attention of children as young as 2.6 years.

The WPPSI-III contains the 14 subtests which are:

Block Design, Information, Matrix Reasoning, Vocabulary, Picture Concepts, Symbol Search, Word Reasoning, Coding, Comprehension, Picture Completion, Similarities, Receptive Vocabulary, Object Assembly, and Picture Naming.

The subtests can also be combined to measure verbal IQ, performance (fluid) IQ, processing speed quotient, general language composite and a full scale IQ. The verbal IQ, performance IQ and full scale IQ are taken from the core subtests. The other scores involve optional or supplemental subtests and are not required.

The strengths of the test for preschoolers are that of being colorful, current (being the latest), and interesting for children. Subtests rules offer a variety samples and often second chances to assure the child performs at the best of his or her abilities. The layered scoring allows partial credit, for intermediate knowledge and rewards detailed or extensive knowledge on subject matter which makes up for most abilities.

However, it is not without drawbacks. One weakness of this test is when testing the very young, the test scales expect IQ to increase in very sudden increments every two to three months. Therefore, is advisable for test users to schedule testing to make it either most likely, or least likely that a child would qualify for supplemental services. For retest, that it may take up to two years. Due to this, a child who has taken the WPPSI-III and needs to be re-evaluated in a short period of time should be given another test.

As for the comparison with the WISC-IV, the WPPSI-III is found to be rather similar to the WISC-IV on several subtests. Therefore, it is important to select the suitability of the test between these two who qualify in the age ranges of both tests. This is because the similarities could create ˇ°practice effectsˇ± and may influence the scores. I would recommend that for giftedness, the WISC-IV should be given. For general academic concerns, the WPPSI-III would serve as a better indicator.

For reading, another test that complements the WPPSI-III would be the WIAT-II which you may want to consider if the child is reading very early.

The test results for very young children should be viewed with caution as the may not be as stable as for an older child. Unless there is a need to test very early, it is suggested that testing close to the end of the kindergarten year would be better. This would ensure that the child's academic skills will be more strongly founded and the testing results will have more validity due to her age. Hope that answers your concerns and best of luck!


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