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Large Gap Between Verbal and Non-Verbal Scores on KBIT-2

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Kbit2 - My daughter scored a 130 on nonverbal and a 100 on verbal and did not qualify for further testing to be placed in gifted. She is an extremely shy child and gets very shut down in any new situation. I was surprised by the difference in scores. In your honest opinion would private testing at home make any difference? Is there realistically anything we could do at home to bring up verbal score? She is bored in classroom and doesn't even have to try to get good grades. She is in 1st grade.

A: The subtests on the KBIT-2 both make up the verbal and non-verbal scores. The verbal subtest measures verbal skills by assessing a person's knowledge of word meanings. Additionally, the verbal tasks measure the child's verbal concept formation, reasoning ability, and range of general information. The verbal score determines the Broad Ability known as Crystallized Ability, which reflects the amount of specific knowledge that a person has acquired within a culture and the person's ability to apply this knowledge effectively. The nonverbal score measures the person's ability to solve novel problems, those that are not specifically taught or trained. To solve the problems presented in the matrices subtest, the examinee needs to perceive various attributes in the pictures, generate hypotheses about how the pictures go together, and test out the hypotheses to arrive at a solution. Thus, the matrices subtest measures Fluid Reasoning and Visual Processing.

This big gap here could point to some sort of Language based disorder; at the same time it also indicates that your child is a strong visual/spatial learner. She has very high non-verbal scores but average verbal scores. Private testing at home would only make a difference if she were very anxious at school during the test - and that affected her scores. You should speak to her teachers to find out if there are any concerns at school.

It does appear that most children today simply may not learn or perform well under the conditions of a traditional learning model, which could be the reason she is bored. Children learn best by doing but most school learning is minimally participatory and very few involve learning through experience. If your daughter is a visual or kinaesthetic learner, it can be extremely boring to sit and listen as based on her high non-verbal score, I assume she learns best by seeing, moving, touching, and doing. These are children we describe as nonverbal learners. They test high on tasks of visual, spatial, and perceptual reasoning and achieve lower scores in the areas of verbal reasoning and memory for language. Even teacher's expectations about non-verbal learners are lower than the verbal ones. This could well be the case with your child.


Check the following articles on some strategies to improve verbal ability:

It would be important to talk to her class teacher to understand her classroom behaviour better. She is just in Grade 1 - any intervention at this point (if the need be) would be effective in the long run. Further testing may be required for her verbal intelligence to determine specific areas that need attention. Wishing you all the best!


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