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Testing for Giftedness Using the WISC-IV

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter's Faith turned 6 recently. She is in the first grade and reads fluently. She learned to read on her own and can spell very well. She has a love for books. She is the youngest in her class. Her teacher said that she has bright kids in her class but faith is an exceptionally bright child. School work comes pretty easy to Faith (that is her name) I had her IQ testes by a psychologist last week with WISC-IV and the full scale was 129. (The psychologist said that if Faith is unsure of the answer she won't try to guess she just shut down).  The test results are as follows:

Verbal Comprehension 128
Perceptual Reasoning 106 (This is where if she was unsure she wouldn't answer)
Working Memory 123
Processing Speed 136

I am concerned because the Perceptual Reasoning was 106.
She really just turned 6 did I test her too early? I really don't understand what this all means can you explain the results to me.

Is she gifted? Any help you could offer is greatly appreciated.

A: The WISC-IV is a useful test for the gifted individuals due to its strengths in measuring verbal and visual reasoning, which are usually the strengths of the gifted population. Researches have indicated that the Verbal Comprehension Index Score is significantly higher than the Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed Indices. The Perceptual Reasoning Index Score is significantly higher than the Working Memory and Processing Speed Indices, and the Working Memory Index Score is significantly higher than the Processing Speed Index. It was also found that the best measures for predicting giftedness (of the four indices) is the Verbal Comprehension Index where your girl's scores are rather high.

Based on your daughter's full scale score, she appears to be in the gifted range and this has also been observed by her teacher. The Perceptual Reasoning Index includes Block Design, Picture Concepts, and Matrix Reasoning, all of which measures non verbal and fluid reasoning abilities. It assesses children's ability to examine a problem, draw upon visual-motor and visual-spatial skills, organize their thoughts, create solutions, and then test them. It can also tap preferences for visual information, comfort with novel and unexpected situations, or a preference to learn by doing. In short, it is generally considered to tap abstract-visual problem solving capabilities.

Her scores are not low for PRI, but perhaps you may be concerned with the comparison to her other scores. There are various reasons that children may not do well on some test compared to others and you did indicate here that this is where she may not have answered because she was unsure. It appears as perfectionist behavior where the child would rather not answer than to answer incorrectly.

The Perceptual Reasoning test requires them to look at various stimuli, and engage in active problem-solving. The performance here is best discussed in terms of some of the task demands that are required for adequate performance on these kinds of items. Even though the items do not require a verbal response, the child need to have the ability to understand verbally presented directions. Attention to details and adequate motor functioning also are important to success on these items. It is good that the psychologist made o note on her behavior during testing, especially for PRI, which may have resulted in lower scores.

You may also want to see the psychologist again to understand and analyze the types of errors that your daughter made. This will enable you to better understand her scores. With that, you may be able to help her if you feel that there are weaknesses that need attention. The same goes for the other scores the individual scores on the subtests are important to determine strengths and weaknesses.

It is fine for her to have taken the test at her age; if you want to retest her when she is a little older, you may do so eventually. Here's wishing you all the best!


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