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The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is an IQ test designed to measure intelligence and cognitive abilities in children and adults.  The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, fifth edition (SB5), published in 2003, is the version currently in use.

The Stanford-Binet can be administered to children as young as two.  Many testers recommend waiting until your child is six to eight before testing.  It can be difficult to get a young child to co-operate fully with the testing which negatively impacts their score.

The SB5 is a protected test administered by trained psychologists.  There are no practice tests or sample questions available to use in preparation.  The Stanford-Binet is not the type of test that one prepares for in the conventional sense.  The tests which most of us are familiar with test to see if we know what we should have learned.  Studying to learn that material and to practice on the types of questions we might see is likely to improve test scores because it moves the student further towards the goal of understanding the material.

The Stanford-Binet and other IQ type tests, in contrast, attempt to measure innate ability. Since tests are limited in size and scope they use particular types of questions as a proxy for the test taker’s ability in particular skill areas.  Practising just the questions on the Stanford-Binet would probably improve your score for that type of question but your performance would no longer be indicative of your skill across the entire area.  The test would no longer measure what it is designed to.  If you are working with a tutor who trains your child specifically on the type of questions that will be asked on the Stanford-Binet (an unethical practice) and the psychologist who administers the Stanford-Binet finds out they will not proceed with testing.

In contrast the material I recommend here was not written with the intent of improving scores on any particular test.  It was written instead with the objective of improving thinking skills.  Improved skills should result in higher test scores for the right reasons – improvement in the underlying ability.  You can find my recommendations for different ages by following the links here.

You may wonder how the same test can be used for young children and adults.  The Stanford-Binet is an “adaptive” test.  The test begins with two routing tests.  These are designed to ascertain the starting point for each of the other subtests.  A child who does better on the routing test starts with more difficult questions than a child who does poorly.  As testing proceeds within each subtest the questions get progressively more and more difficult.  Questioning continues while the child is able to answer correctly.  The further they get the higher the score.  Scores are adjusted for age so if you consider children of different ages with the same score the older child will have answered more questions correct.

The total time taken for testing is usually between 45 and 75 minutes.  Your appointment time will be longer, particularly for young children, to allow for settling in time and breaks during testing.  Testing may even be spread over more than one session.

The Stanford-Binet isn’t a pencil and paper multiple choice test.  It is administered one on one with a psychologist.  Colorful artwork and toys and manipulatives will be used during the testing process.  I’m often asked for material that can be used to familiarize a child with the test.  No-one can help you with the specifics of the test but be assured that everyone is in the same position.

The SB5 has ten different subtests and within each of those subtests the type of question may change as the difficulty increases.  The examiner will explain to your child exactly what is expected and work through examples of all the different types of activities with them.  Exposing your child to lots of varied learning opportunities and thinking activities is the best preparation.

The five areas examined by the SB-V are assessed both verbally and non-verbally (ten subtests in total)
  • Fluid reasoning
  • Knowledge
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Visual-spatial processing
  • Working memory
The verbal subtests require facility with words and printed material (reading or speaking).
Verbal Domain Subtest Information
  • Fluid Reasoning:  early reasoning (e.g. picture reasoning), verbal absurdities, verbal analogies.
  • Verbal Knowledge:  vocabulary (used for routing). Includes toys, identification of body parts, Child Card, and classic word definitions.
  • Verbal Quantitative Reasoning:  contains five different levels. tapping number concepts, problem solving, and figural-geometric/measurement estimation problems
  • Verbal Visual-Spatial Processing:  position and direction at five different levels. verbal-spatial problems requiring explanation of directions, identifying spatial relations in pictures, understanding complex statements of spatial orientation.
  • Verbal Working Memory:  memory for sentences and last word. (requiring memory of the last word of series of questions).
The nonverbal subtests require a small degree of receptive language (understanding spoken instructions) and allow for pointing responses, the movement of puzzle-like pieces, and manipulation of toys to indicate correct answers.
Nonverbal Domain Subtest Information
  • Nonverbal Fluid Reasoning:  object series/matrices (used for routing).  Includes sequential reasoning and classic matrix items.
  • Nonverbal Knowledge:  procedural knowledge (an item involving gestures), and picture absurdities.
  • Nonverbal Quantitative Reasoning tapping number concepts, problem solving, and figural-geometric / measurement-estimation problems
  • Nonverbal Visual-Spatial Processing:  form board and form patterns (making designs from a set of form-board pieces)..
  • Nonverbal Working Memory:  delayed response (e.g., hiding an object under a cup at the low levels) and block span (a block tapping procedure)

Skills required to do well on the Stanford-Binet include

  • Listening ability
  • General knowledge
  • Language development
  • Mathematical achievement
  • Mathematical knowledge
  • Spatial relations
  • Visualization
  • Induction
  • Working memory
  • Memory span
You can find my recommendations to build these skills at different ages by following the links here.
Stanford-Binet is a registered trademark of Riverside Publishing Corp.  The information on this page is provided by Think Tonight and is neither authenticated or endorsed by Riverside Publishing or its parent company Houghton Mifflin.