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Interpretation of WISC-IV Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: We are trying to figure out how best to help our child do well in school. She is having some difficulty with reading at level and writing. While she can tell us very funny and colorful stories, her written work is very simple. She also has some difficulty with organization and settling down to work. We believe, based on her WISC-IV test results that she is a visual spatial learner and are looking to understand how to use this information to help her succeed. The initial information we found on visual spatial learners appears to be accurate in describing our daughter.

Are we over interpreting her WISC-IV results? What information or resources would help us help her? Should we discuss her test results with her teacher to help her teacher understand and be better informed?

Age at test 8 years, 5 months
VCI Composite 119
PRI Composite 133
WMI Composite 110
PSI Composite 97
FSIQ Composite 122
GAI Composite 130

VCI subtests
Similarities 15
Vocabularly 12
Comprehension 13

PRI subtests
Block Design 15
Picture Concepts 16
Matrix Reasoning 15

WMI subtests
Digit Span 12
Letter-Number Sequencing 12

PSI subtests
Coding 10
Symbol Search 9

A: From the detailed scores, it indicates that your daughter is rather bright, though not to the level of being gifted. However, her PRI scores are very high. This index measures non-verbal and fluid reasoning. 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. For indication of giftedness, of the four indices, the VCI is the best indicator and the PRI is the second best indicator.

As you rightly pointed out, she does appear to have strong visual-spatial skills. You may want to help nurture her skills here. Check out these sites:

It would also be an excellent idea to speak to her teachers and help them understand her the way you do. They may be able to focus on her strengths and help her learn better. Her PSI score is a little depressed (in comparison to other scores, but in reality, it is average) so you may want to include more activities here. A very simple way of explaining processing speed is the length of time it takes for the information to be decoded (or understood/ interpreted) by the brain for a response to be made. When any information is processed, it is affected both ways while receiving and sending out information. For instance, when you give instructions to a child (who is at an age to understand & respond), instead of working on the task immediately, the child may look puzzled for some time until they are able to process the instructions to perform the task.

The GAI (General Ability index) which is based only on two subsets of the WISC, which is the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) and the Perceptual Reasoning Index (PRI), hence not taking into account the Working Memory Index (WMI) and the Processing Speed Index (PSI). Children with learning disabilities, attention problems, or other neuropsychological issues may result in working memory and processing speed deficiencies which in turn lower the FSIQ (Full Scale IQ). Therefore, the GAI may provide a comparable approximation of overall intellectual ability as represented by the FSIQ for this group of children. So, when the processing speed is included, the overall intelligence quotient would be lowered.
Hope the above information helps a little and would help you to plan suitable activities for her. Good luck!


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