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Interpretation of Kaufman Brief Intelligence (2nd Edition) Scores

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: My autistic daughter age 16 she was given The Kaufman Brief Intelligence test, second edition. Her scores were:

  • Verbal -76

  • Nonverbal - 81

  • IQ Composite - 75

I don't understand her results. Would you please explain. What they mean and where it places her?

A: The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, Second Edition (K-BIT 2) is used to measure verbal and nonverbal cognitive ability. It is used to obtain a quick estimate of intelligence, estimate an individual's verbal versus nonverbal intelligence and/or to screen to identify students who may benefit from enrichment or gifted programs and also identifying high-risk children through large-scale screening who may require a more comprehensive evaluation. It is also used for estimating cognitive functioning of children referred for assessment of specific learning disabilities. In short, it serves the purpose to provide a relatively quick and accurate estimate of abilities; and to identify students who may benefit from special programs.

This test (developed by leading cognitive ability experts Alan and Nadeen Kaufman) is assumed to provide highly valid, reliable results and is useful for a broad range of purposes. With the test package, a scoring and administrative manual is provided, so it is quite easy to use the materials. This is a brief assessment and not a full IQ test like the WISC IV. It takes 15mins to half an hour. Basically, a few questions are asked and following questions are tracked for correct answers. After a series of incorrect responses, the testing stops. Verbal component deals with vocabulary subtest and nonverbal tests Matrices subtest intelligence. The Verbal portion of the test is made up of two subtests, Verbal Knowledge and Riddles. These measure verbal, school related skills by measuring an individual's word knowledge, verbal concept formation, reasoning ability and range of general information. The Non Verbal portion is made up of the Matrices subtest and measures the ability to solve new problems by assessing ability to perceive relationships and complete visual analogies.

The Composite IQ or Overall IQ score (also known as Full Scale IQ score in some tests) is based on the verbal and nonverbal subtests of the test. This is frequently the number most people refer to when discussing someone's IQ. Experts who develop intelligence tests use mathematical calculations to find the mean or average score. An IQ score from 90 to 110 is generally considered in the average range, corresponding to roughly 50 per cent of the population. The higher the IQ score, the lesser the percentage. For example, high scores of say 130 would only see about 2-3 per cent of the population, just as would a score of 70 on the other extreme.

Based on a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, your daughter overall IQ is in the Well below average range (75) for the K-BIT-2. Her Verbal score is in the Well below average range (76); while her Nonverbal score is in the Below average range (81).

The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT) by definition is a “brief” intelligence test, also known as a test used for "screening" children. This means, the K-BIT2 test is just a few subtests of their KTEA (full version). Therefore, if those subtests are not the child's strongest areas, then the score could be dramatically different from the same child's score on the comparable “full” assessment. Having said that, test designers do select suitable subtests to include in a brief scale. This is not done randomly, rather using good research background.

It is always good to get a second opinion; perhaps another test that would capture her strengths. Your daughter would need intervention and I do believe that she is getting special needs help. Hope the above gives some clarity to help you decide how best to help your child. Wishing you all the best.


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