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Perceptional Reasoning Score on WISC-IV

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: I recently had my son take the WISC-IV through a psychologist. He was 6 years 11 months when he took the test. The psychologist gave us the report and was excited about my son's score and called him "extremely gifted." Now, I know people can be gifted in different things such as music, science, art, etc. What I would like to know is what exactly would my son be gifted in? I would like to foster his learning in his gift, but I am not sure what that is exactly.

The Psychologist focused on his Perceptional Reasoning:

  • Block Design: 16

  • Picture Concepts: 16

  • Matrix Reasoning: 19

His perceptional Reasoning score was 143 in the 99.8th percentile.

So with this score, what would you say his gift is? Do you more information? Thank you in advance.

A: Based on what the psychologist concluded upon testing and his perceptual reasoning (PR) score, your son appears to be in the gifted range. I am not able to determine the level of his giftedness, as other index scores are not given. It also appears that his PR score is the highest as that was the focus - 143 on PR is very high.

Studies on the WISC-IV have suggested that two of the four indices, the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) and the Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI), provide the best measures of giftedness. This would include Vocabulary, Similarities, Comprehension, Matrix Reasoning, Picture Concepts and Block Design. The PR component of the WISC IV requires visual perception, organization and reasoning with visually presented, nonverbal material to solve the kinds of problems that are not typically taught at school. The PR Index (PRI) accounts of 45% of variance in general intelligence - which is rather high.

In short, PR measures:

  • Measures non-verbal (perceptual) and fluid reasoning, spatial processing, visual-motor integration, and the ability to learn new information

  • Assesses the ability to examine a problem, use visual-motor and visual-spatial skills, organize thoughts, and develop and test solutions

  • Can indicate a preference for visual information or kinesthetic learning and a comfort with new situations

Look into the PR sub-scores to determine his best areas and how to help him further. For example, the Block Design requires spatial processing, visual-motor coordination and the ability to apply all skills in a quick, efficient manner. The highest scores reflect both accurate and very quick responses. However, Picture Concepts score may differ from these other subtest because of the effect of language on the performance.

Based on the PR percentile that you indicated, your son's nonverbal reasoning abilities are in the high range. The PR index is designed to measure fluid reasoning in the perceptual domain with tasks that assess nonverbal concept formation, visual perception and organization, simultaneous processing, visual-motor coordination, learning, and the ability to separate figure and ground in visual stimuli.

The focus is usually on the weaker areas - it is interesting to see that the focus here is on the strength. As for your question, high PR score has always been considered to be a useful indicator of general intelligence and problem solving skills. Individuals with superior perceptual reasoning skills are considered to be above average in their nonverbal communication skills. They are able to learn about the world around them by picking up information and clues from images or from observation. You may have noticed this with your son. You can go on to further help boost his PR skills with the aid of picture puzzles, colour imagery collages, photo activities and image inference activities.

Hope the above helps in recognizing gifts your son has and enhancing them further. Best wishes to you!


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