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Interpretation of WISC-IV Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: We just received our son's results of the WISC -IV 4th edition. Please could you assist by interpreting the results. He is 9 years and 9 months old in grade 3 in South Africa.

Verbal Comprehension:
Similarities = 13
Vocabulary = 10
Comprehension = 9
Information = 10
Word Reasoning = 10

Perceptual Reasoning:
Block Design = 9
Picture Concepts = 13
Matrix Reasoning = 9
Picture Completion = 14

Working Memory:
Digit Span = 7
Letter-Number Sequencing = 9
Arithmetic = 7

Processing Speed:
Coding = 6
Symbol-Search = 9

What does these results mean? Are they reason enough to retain him i.e. to repeat grade 3? If not what additional training would be recommended to improve his working memory scores and processing scores. Thanking you in advance.

A: There are other details that need to be provided to interpret the results accurately. The tester may be the best person to interpret the results as this is an individual test (and other factors that are not formally reported may have been detected). The scores given appear to be scaled scores and need to be converted to composite scores using a table (again, the tester would be able to do this). An FSIQ (Full Score) would also be required which should be in your report.

Based on the results, I would assume that his verbal comprehension and perceptual reasoning is very high, however an average working memory and a very low processing speed. A low working memory indicates lowered ability to memorise new information, hold it in short-term memory, concentrate, and manipulate that information to produce some result or reasoning processes. This is an important component of learning and achievement, and ability to self-monitor. A low processing speed index indicates lowered abilities to focus attention and quickly scan, discriminate between, and sequentially order visual information. It is also related to reading performance and development too. It is not surprising that both his working memory and processing speed is low as they are both related. An increased processing speed can decrease the load placed on working memory, while a decreased processing speed can impair the effectiveness of working memory.

Different schools have varying criteria to retain students in a particular grade and it is best to speak to the school administrator on this matter. There may be a possibility of a learning disorder that may have affected the results causing large discrepancies. Do get some help here.

To improve his working memory, he would need to indulge in activities that help his with memorisation and concentration. It is essential in higher-order thinking, learning, and achievement. As for processing speed, concentrate on activities that require persistence and planning ability. There are many ways to increase working memory and processing speed depending on how much the child is able to do. Look up articles on any search engine on the internet and you will find various tips. Choose whichever activities that may be suitable for your son. It is also best to discuss this with his teachers to have a better idea of what their thoughts are and how you may be able to help him with additional activities at home. Best wishes.


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