Gap between Verbal and Nonverbal IQ Scores
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My son is 6 and a half years old and is in 1st grade in the U.S. We just
received his IQ group test scores:
Verbal: 109, Quantative: 129, and NonVerbal: 150.
It was a group test and we don't know the exact testing method. A letter
from school implies that he might have maxed out highest possible
I have a couple of questions:
There is a 41-point gap between nonVerbal (150) and
verbal (109) scores. The gap is big. Some say that a gap like this can
indicate learning disabilities. Also, he should be tested individually
with caution in case of learning disabilities. What's your thoughts on this?
My son's reading level is one year above his grade level
(currently at DRA 20-24). But his verbal score is average. How should we
Thank you and I am looking forward to your reply.
For the first question, yes the gap is huge between verbal and nonverbal
scores. If it is the WISC-IV, such a gap would allow for a General
Ability Index (GAI) which is derived from the core Verbal Comprehension
and Perceptual Reasoning subtests. The GAI provides an estimate of
general intellectual ability, with reduced emphasis on working memory
and processing speed relative to the Full Scale IQ (FSIQ). It taps on
working memory and processing speed, but to a lesser degree than FSIQ.
This allows for some degree of fairness for those with some learning
To determine if it is indeed a learning disability, the breakdown of the
scores need to be seen. You need to speak to the tester to find out. I
would think that there is a concern here especially with such a huge
gap. It can indicate some kind of language-based disorder. It also could
mean your son is a strong visual/spatial learner. As it is a group test,
it is harder to tell compared to individual tests - which are also more
detailed and specific. I would think that he should be tested
individually after consulting with the school on the rather large
discrepancy. If there were a learning concern, it would help him get the
necessary intervention and learn better, which is only fair.
Verbal intelligence includes the ability to listen to, analyze,
remember, and understand information that is communicated either
verbally or in written form. It includes skills such as reasoning and
the grasp of both abstract and concrete ideas as they relate to
language. This also includes their overall understanding of concepts,
comparisons, and other similar characteristics of language. In your
son's case, he appears to have average verbal intelligence (scores may
be lower for a non native English speaker as most of these tests are in
English). For both your questions, it does point to a possible concern
with learning that may be causing a lower score in comparison with the
The best thing to do is to speak to someone in the school who could
suggest further testing which I believe is required to determine the
cause of such a gap in the scores. The earlier there is intervention,
the easier learning would be for him. Wishing you all the best..