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Gifted, Bright or Average?

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Is my child gifted, bright or neither? I have IQ scores showing the following,

IQ Scores & Indices

WPPSI -III UK Standard Score (Percentile) Range

Verbal IQ 95 (37th) Average

Performance IQ 123 (94th) Above average

Processing Speed 83 (13th) Below average

Verbal Scale Subtests

Verbal Subtests Standard Score Range

Information 9 Average

Vocabulary 10 High average

Word Reasoning 9 High average

Performance Scale Subtests

Block Design 11 Average

Matrix Reasoning 15 Above average

Picture Concepts 15 Above average

Processing Speed Subtests

Symbol Search 7 Below average

Coding 7 Below average

As you can see there is such disparity as he has known learning difficulties it is hard to see if he is indeed bright, gifted or neither. What bit of the test means he is bright or gifted?

A: Based on his scores, it appears that an IQ score could not be derived as the gap for scores is too large. For most gifted programmes, a cut-off at 130 is usually required for admission. There is a huge discrepancy between his verbal and performance IQ scores (VIQ & PIQ). The PIQ is indeed the best indication of a child's general cognitive ability. In this case, your son's score shows scores in the superior range (PR: 94). Even though the performance score may well be the better indicator of general ability under the circumstances, it is not as good a predictor of school grades as is the verbal score - which is why it may be preferred over the PIQ in schools for special programmes.

The Processing Speed Quotient (PSQ) provides an estimate of a child's ability to quickly and correctly scan, sequence, and discriminate simple visual information. Your son's processing speed abilities, as measured by the Processing Speed Quotient, are in the below average range. Processing speed is an indication of the rapidity with which a child can mentally process simple or routine information without making errors. Good speed of simple information processing may free cognitive resources for the processing of more complex information, and ease new learning. This speed can be translated to doing any task at school.

The IQ classification is as the following:

IQ Scores IQ Classification
130+ Very Superior
120-129 Superior
110-119 High Average
90-109 Average
80-89 Low Average
70-79 Borderline
Below 70 Extremely Low

It is quite obvious that he has a learning difficulty that needs attention to enable him to excel in school. To determine if he is gifted from the scores alone will not be possible. Hidden learning disabilities can be difficult to diagnose in children whose extraordinary abstract reasoning enables them to find other ways to solve problems. This makes it hard for teachers to tell if the child needs help. And disabilities can depress IQ scores so that a gifted child does not score in the gifted range. If he were twice exceptional (gifted with a learning disability), his scores would be more erratic (as seen in his current scores). These children demonstrate much more erratic IQ scores over time than other groups. They tend to do poorly on group tests, as well as on tests that are timed, tests that require handwriting, or tests that are administered later in the day when they are fatigued. It is often observed that twice-exceptional children tend to pass the harder items and miss the easy ones.

It is best that you request the test interpreter to refer your son for further testing. This could determine any specific learning disability. The sooner the intervention, the better the outcome. Wishing you all the best!


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