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Range of Scores on the WPPSI-III

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I live in Atlanta and as part of the private school admissions program here, children are required to take an IQ test.. It is the Weschsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence III. I just received my 5 year old son's results and his scores fell in the average range for Verbal and Performance but his full scale IQ was in the high average range. How is that possible? Isn't the full scale based on the Performance and Verbal? Why would the full scale be better than both the verbal and performance? Could this indicate a problem. When my daughter took it 2 years ago, she cored superior for verbal and full scale and high average for performance.

Thanks so much for your input!

A: I am not very familiar with the WPPSI but I will try to shed some light here. The WPPSI-III test is a very respected test of intelligence from the family of Wechsler’s series of tests. It is important to remember that such tests yield results in a range; it is not possible to say with precision what any particular child's IQ is.

The WPPSI-III does not require the child to read or write, hence the suitability with younger children. Four composite scores that are included are the Verbal IQ (VIQ), Performance IQ (PIQ), Processing Speed Quotient (PSQ), and the Full Scale IQ (FSIQ). Briefly, Verbal IQ is based on Information, Vocabulary, and Word Reasoning. Performance (fluid) IQ is based on Block Design, Matrix Reasoning, and Picture Concepts. Processing Speed Quotient (or visual-motor, clerical speed and accuracy) includes Coding & Symbol Search. Finally, the FSIQ is based on seven tests: 3 Verbal, 3 Performance (fluid), and 1 Processing Speed test. Each of these IQs are composite scores. Both the Verbal and Performance IQ scores are composites of five different subtests, each of which measures a different area of ability. The Full Scale IQ is a composite of the Verbal and Performance scores, which makes it a composite of 14 different subtests. The individual index scores (VIQ and PIQ) and the FSIQ are calculated from a sum of the scaled scores (excluding the optional subtests).

Hence it is best to check the detailed scores to see how the scores are derived. You may want to see a professional with the detailed scores. There may be additional criteria and calculation included that helped raise up the FSIQ. Still, you should see someone to rule out any concern.

You may also want to use the scores with caution as there are limitations of using assessments. Some studies show that intelligence tests such as the WPPSI-III, especially for pre-K level, are unreliable and their results vary widely with various factors such as retesting, practice (familiarization), test administrator, time and place. There are claims that some commercially available materials improve results simply by eliminating negative factors through familiarization which in turn puts children at a comfortable frame of mind.


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