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The Raven's Test

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: My daughter is eight years old and she was given the raven test at her school when she was seven. She scored 99 percentile. What is the highest score possible on this test? Is this test appropriate for determining the intelligence of children? She has made honor roll every semester she has been in school with perfect grades.

A: That is a score in the highest range in terms of percentile; which means that she scored better than 99 percent of her peers on the same test. To gauge intelligence, this is sufficient especially when the score is high - there is little concern about strengths and weaknesses. However, please note that different tests focus on different skills.

Briefly, the Raven's is a non-verbal assessment that is highly visual/spatial, which can penalise a highly verbal child who does not have comparable strengths in the visual/spatial domain. This includes many non-English speaking or minority students, who are often tested on the Ravens in an attempt to reduce bias in terms of race and linguistic. Unfortunately, figural reasoning tests have been proven not culturally unbiased. Moreover, and even worse, they have been proven not to identify high ability students, both missing many students, and identifying inappropriate students.

Note on visual/spatial learners: Creative children, culturally diverse children, mathematically talented children, children with attention deficit disorders, highly gifted children, learning disabled children, and underachievers often are visual-spatial learners who require different teaching methods. These learners usually think in pictures or rely on feeling/sensing.

Perhaps you may want to try the WISC-IV which is strong in the verbal area or the Stanford-Binet V which is stronger in the reasoning/math area. For aptitude and ability in various skill subsets, you might want to try Wechsler (WISC-IV), which is composed of both IQ and achievement testing and gives you an overall idea of general intelligence. The many subsets also help determine areas of strengths and weaknesses that may need attention.

Good luck!


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