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Large Discrepancy between the Verbal Comprehension and the Perceptual Reasoning Index on the WISC IV

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Thank you for the very informative website. My 9 year and 11 month old son recently took a psychoeducational assessment and the results came out to be quite uneven. For instance, in the WISC IV, he scored a VCI of 152 and PRI of 115, WMI of 135 and Processing Speed of 106. Due to the 37 points difference in VCI and PRI score, an FSIQ score was not derived.

They also did the WC III test and the results are as follows:

  • Visual-Spatial Thinking 109 (Spacial Relation 117/Pic Recognition 98)

  • Processing Speed 121 (Visual Matching 121/Decision Speed 116)

  • Long-term Retrieval 108 (V-A Learning 111/V-A Delayed 109/Retrieval Fluency 95

  • Phonemic Awareness 112 (Sound Blending 116/Incomplete Words 99)

  • Auditory Processing 122 (Sound Blending 116/Auditory Attention 119)

  • Working Memory 144 (Numbers Reverse 152/Auditory WM 120)

In the WIAT-III, he scored:-
Reading 123
Math 144
Language 136

In WJ-III Tests of Achievement, he scored:- Academic Fluency 154 Broad Written Language 141

Due to the social skill problems reported by the school, the assessor opined he has Asperger Syndrome.

Based on the achievement tests taken, he does not appear to have a major learning disability. Is the big discrepancy between the WISC-IV VCI and PRI score a concern? Can we tell if he is gifted based on these test results and he tends to be quite bored at school? Grateful if you can share your insights. Many thanks in advance.

A: The results surely indicate a rather mixed score which makes it difficult for determination and selection purposes. What is obvious is that his scores are definitely way higher than his peers, especially for VCI and WMI. It is also true (based on research) that the VCI is the best measure of giftedness. So, simply answered, yes, your son's score is definitely in the gifted range.

It is hard to determine any learning disability without further testing but based on the WISC IV alone, it does not appear to be the case since his PRI and PSI, although did not hit the mark for the average gifted child, the scores are very close to the borderline index. There is an underlying concern here, but it hard to pinpoint exactly what it may be unless perhaps he is seen by a professional and diagnosed based on a few tests.

The FSIQ can only be interpreted if it represents a unitary construct of cognitive abilities and in your son's case, due to the large gap, the FSIQ is not unitary, hence the focus on subtests scores. I am not sure if the scores suggest Asperger's Syndrome but a neurological issue may be a possibility especially as since the assessor suggested this which is probably based on reports and observation. This needs to be further clarified.

I'm afraid I can only suggest so much as I believe there is much more to this and your son needs to undergo other tests to rule out some concerns. I do think there is concern for such a huge gap between the VCI and PRI. Please seek further help.

Good luck and wishing you all the best..


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