Like other IQ Tests the WISC-IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children) is designed to measure skills and abilities, rather than grade-level subject knowledge. Testing is done one-on-one with a psychologist. The total amount of time needed for testing varies. A good tester will spend time establishing a rapport with your child. They want your child to do their best so that the test score has meaning. Most testers will allow for breaks between subtests as necessary. Younger children may be tested in more than one session. These factors, your child's personality, and ability, all factor into how long testing will take. That said, 2-3 hours is a common amount of time to allow.
Many parents contact us hoping for information which they can use to familiarize their child with what they can expect when they're tested. The WISC-IV is confidential. Public knowledge of question specifics would change the expected outcomes and reduce the usefulness of the test. Part of the test protocol is to see how children will do when presented with problems of a type they haven't seen before. Every child is in the same situation. The test is unfamiliar to everyone.
[The situation has changed in the last year or so. There are now tutoring companies publishing WISC specific test preparation products with questions in them very similar to those on the test. That means that some children taking the WISC are pretty familiar with what is on it. We sell what we consider to be the best of the options available. We were torn as to whether or not to offer it for sale. We would not have used a workbook like this ourselves. We're not entirely comfortable with the ethics and have more to say about this in our description of Aristotle Circle's WISC-IV Practice Workbook
Apart from the obvious good nights sleep one of the best things you can do is expose your child to opportunities to work on lots of different problems. This is not a test with a defined curriculum which a child can study for. Preparation in the traditional sense doesn't make sense. What does make sense prior to testing, and throughout our children's lives, is to teach them how to think and problem solve. Children who can make connections and understand their own thinking processes learn faster and retain more. It's a benefit for life. Because the WISC is such a wide ranging test you'll see long lists of potential products
which you can use with your child in anticipation of testing. Instead of feeling overwhelmed choose some things that your child will enjoy doing, at a level that you think will challenge them. The range of products we sell were all selected because they develop thinking. Choose from what we sell and you can't go wrong.
There are 15 subtests on the WISC-IV. Within each of the subtests the questions get more difficult as the child progresses. The format questions are presented in may change too. The tester will continue asking questions in each subtest until your child gets three in a row wrong. At that point the subtest test is over and they'll move on to the next subtest. The scores from the various subtests are then combined to get what we parents are used to calling an IQ score.
This is worth restating because many parents used to standardized multiple choice tests have difficulty understanding this. The same WISC test is the same for children from 6 to 16 but each child will have a different experience. This is why the idea of a single test preparation product is meaningless. Older children will begin the test further along in each section (the tester has a clear protocol to follow) but if your child is bright they could get asked questions that would be very difficult for most children of their age. Score is determined by how many questions your child gets correct in each subtest, before they get three in a row wrong, and their age. Younger children don't have to answer as many questions correctly as older children do to get the same IQ score but if your young child is brilliant in a particular area they'll have an opportunity to demonstrate this and it will pull up their overall score.
If your child has just missed out on the score needed to qualify for a gifted program they can often pull up their overall score just as easily by working in their area of strength as in their area of weakness. If they're in 2nd grade and have the vocabulary of an 8th grader, and enjoy learning about language, let them work on Word Roots
and improve in that area. If their area of strength is visualizing shapes and how they fit together, let them use Building Thinking Skills Level 3 Figural
if they appear ready for it. Don't assume that because the grade level designation on a book is above your child's grade level that it's not worth doing.
If your child has an area in which they've scored lower than the rest your tester should be able to provide you with more information as to possible reasons and things you might like to do to support that skill area. We're not psychologists but contact us
and we'd be happy to make suggestions too.
While we can't provide specifics, some general information on what is tested in each of the 15 subtests, and some suggestions for products which teach those skills, can be found in our Subtests and Suggestion Section
. We also recommend that you browse our suggestions for your child's age
. We have collected together our favorite resources for improving the skills tested for on the WISC there.
There are 15 subtests on the WISC-IV. They're not usually all used. A combined composite score is reported. Composite scores relating to specific cognitive areas may also be reported.
Verbal Reasoning Comprehension Index (verbal ability) is made up of:
- Word Reasoning
Perceptual Reasoning Index (nonverbal ability) is made up of:
- Block Design
- Matrix Reasoning
- Picture Concepts
- Picture Completion
Working Memory Index (working memory) is made up of:
- Digit Span
- Letter-Number Sequencing
Processing Speed Index (visual-motor processing) is made up of:
- Symbol Search