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Confusion on IQ score

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My child has been tested using the SB5 as having a FSIQ of 134. I am told this places him at or above the 99th percentile. However I am a little confused as to whether all IQ tests are all 'normed', by which I mean does the 99th percentile give the same FSIQ number across all IQ tests?

I am asking the question because I am trying to advocate for some differentiation of the curriculum for my son and am confused about what terminology I should use and what I trying to advocate for. My net searches have not made this any clearer!! My son's school have told me he is 'moderately' gifted based on the FSIQ of 134 but another teacher I spoke with suggested the SB5 was yielding lower scores overall so I should focus instead on the percentile.

On the net I read that scores above the 99th percentile are termed 'highly' gifted and that a score in the 99th percentile would qualify him for Mensa, but equally on the Mensa site it says they won't rely on IQ scores and instead only look at percentiles. So how does a score of 134 equate to scores on other tests (e.g. the Wecshler)? Any light you can shed on this confusion would be most appreciated!

A: A score in the 99th percentile is definitely a better indicator for comparison for tests. This means that your child is in the top 1%. However, different tests may yield different scores. Having said that, scores on standardized intelligence tests are rather highly correlated, that is, if one scores high on a certain intelligence test, s/he should score equally high on another test. All standardized tests are normed against a large sample. The fact that they are accepted as standardized measures assures us of its reliability and validity.

A rough guide for comparison on the levels of giftedness is as indicated below:

  Stanford-Binet 5  WISC IV
Moderately Gifted  120 - 129  130 - 138
Highly Gifted  125 - 135  138 - 145
Exceptionally Gifted  130 - 140  145 - 152
Profoundly Gifted  135 - 141 and above  152 - 160

The SB-5 and the WISC-III have a ceiling of 160. However, the WISC-IV has 210 extended scale, with subtest ceilings of up to 28 which would be suitable for children scoring at ceiling levels. Your son scored 134, which places him in the highly gifted category for the SB5 and moderately gifted for the WISC-IV.

It is also true that children these days are scoring lower as compared to the older tests (WISC III or the older SB). Therefore, it has been recommended that a new set of scores and descriptive levels of giftedness be used, which starts at 120 to 125 for moderately gifted, and progressing to 142 to 145 and above for profoundly gifted. This is closer to the scores for the SB5. So, your son is definitely gifted based on the test score, he needs to be in a gifted program to ensure maximum development. Hope that helps a little. Good luck!


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