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Interpretation of IQ Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My nephew has recently been tested and placed into the second-grade gifted program at his school. My sister has asked me to help her interpret the scores he was assigned on the various test he was given. I can't. I am a high school chemistry teacher, and I am no slouch. I cannot find any standard reference data online. I cannot help her. Can you? His scores are as follows:

1. Ravens Progressive Matrices - >95%

2. Gifted Rating Scale - Creativity 93%

3. PIAT-R - Total Reading 129/97%

4. Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised - Fluid Reasoning 129, Brief IQ 137, Full IQ 143.

Obviously I gather that he is quite gifted, but how gifted? We are just attempting to enrich his education, and we'd like to know in layman's terms how gifted is he?

Just one more question? He has also been tested for ADD and been given medication for it. Is it common for gifted children to be diagnosed ADD? I am asking because I suspect he has just been bored in class up to now. He was diagnosed with ADD in Kindergarten. Thank you so much.

A: The Raven Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) was designed to measure a person's ability to form perceptual relations and to reason by analogy independent of language and formal schooling, and may be used with persons ranging in age from 6 years to adult. It is indeed a test of intellectual capacity, of general mental ability. A cut-off score of at least 95th percentile is usually used for acceptance into gifted programs. It has been suggested that for Raven's, a score at the 97th percentile would probably warrant an out-of-level supplementary test to differentiate the range of gifted students.

The Leiter-R, another nonverbal test is used to special children which includes the gifted, and is especially suitable for children and adolescents who are cognitively delayed, disadvantaged, nonverbal or non-English speaking, speech or hearing impaired, motor impaired, ADHD, autistic, or suffering from traumatic brain injury. Results of at least 2 standard deviation above the mean would place a student in the superior range of cognitive ability. Based on his full IQ score, it appears that he is in the superior range. You may want to see the full scores that provide the complete profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. These include 20 subtests and numerous composites that measure both general intelligence and discrete ability areas. Scores are provided for each subtest and skill area, which helps in identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Unfortunately I am not very familiar with the specific interpretation of the other tests but it does appear that he is in the higher range of giftedness. In most cases, a standard deviation of two and above (an IQ of about 130) would place a child in the superior cognitive ability range and is usually required for entrance into gifted programs. If possible, consult the school for interpretation of each of the full scores or seek help from a private educational psychologist for more help in enriching and catering for his specific educational needs.

On association between having ADD and being gifted, there is no evidence that a child with ADD is any more or less gifted than her/his non-ADD counterpart. With medication, children with ADD are usually able to focus just as well as others. Hope the above has been helpful. Best of luck.


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