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Gifted Assessment and I.Q Testing
I.Q. testing is a component of Gifted Assessment. This page provides information that you might use if your student participates in I.Q Testing.

Is I.Q. (Intelligence Quotient) Important?
The concept of IQ, or "Intelligence Quotient" was first introduced by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904. IQ Testing is a method used by psychologists to measure what is generally considered intelligence. I.Q. Testing is only one part of gifted identification. People will debate the pro's and con's of IQ testing. Rather than go into this debate, we'll provide you with some information to help make your own decision about IQ testing.

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Centers for Gifted Assessment and Consultation

Educational Options is about meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of the intellectually gifted. It is about "thinking outside the box," for people who do not fit the norms. It is about families, children, adolescents, and adults, searching, because something is not right ... and it is the emotions, not the school or job performance, that isn't right. Although Educational Options is centered in Minnesota and especially serves the needs of gifted children in Minnesota, it is possible to arrange for assessments and consultations from anywhere in the country. Specialist: Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

The Gifted Development Center (GDC), a service of the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, has served as a resource center for developmentally advanced children and their parents, and for gifted individuals of all ages. We provide comprehensive testing of giftedness and visual-spatial learners; diagnosis of learning disabilities, particularly twice exceptional learners; assessment of learning style, personality type, self-concept and levels of achievement; counseling of gifted children and adults; consulting services for parents, school districts, private schools, and homeschooling families; Specialist: Dr. Linda Silverman

GIFTED & CREATIVE Services: AUSTRALIA is dedicated to providing services that encompass and nourish the whole gifted person and meets emotional, intellectual, physical and educational needs. Since our inception in 1979, our focus has been on all aspects of giftedness. We know about emotional issues, intensity, sensitivity, perfectionism, and the very real needs of visual-spatial learners. We know how unique gifted individuals tend to be when it comes to learning style and self expression. Specialist: Lesley Sword.

Intelligence Tests
There are several different tests which are used to assess mental abilities. The two most commonly used with gifted children are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children® (WISC) and the Stanford-Binet. The Stanford-Binet has a higher range and is the test of choice for highly gifted children.

Apparently, neither of the current tests adequately measure abilities of children whose true IQ is above 130. A child from a background offering limited exposure to situations examined in these tests may not do as well. Results of intelligence tests are usually reported in a single standard score, an Intelligence Quotient or IQ.

The schools may choose to use other kinds of tests in their screening processes for admission to Talented and Gifted (TAG) programs. Schools most likely will choose tests that will identify students that meet their specific program goals and budgets. .

The WISC and Stanford-Binet are tests that must be administered by a psychologists. When choosing a psychologist or other professional to administer an IQ test, you should insure that the tester is familiar with the characteristic behaviors of gifted children. Otherwise, the test results may reflect the test administrators' expectations, like looking for a learning disability, rather than seeking the child's abilities. Experience has taught me that if you see an extreme discrepancy in one or more of the subtests, you may actually be looking at some sort of disability. One of the best resources I have encountered that describes this phenomenon is in the book "Upside-down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner" by Linda Kreger Silverman. In this book Dr. Silverman describes how to assess if the test charts you are looking at indicate some sort of disability. Another book available: Intelligent Testing with the WISC-III by Alan S. Kaufman.


"Intelligent Testing with the WISC-III (Wiley Series on Personality Processes)" by Alan S. Kaufman.

"Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner" by Linda Kreger Silverman

The following is one of the more commonly used categorizations of IQ scores. Like everything else, different people have different ideas about where the breakpoints should be for each category and the numbers of people who fit into each category. Some of the more recent research seems to indicate that there are more individuals in the 160+ range than would be predicted by the Normal Distribution upon which the numbers below are based.

85 Lower normal
100 Upper normal
115 Bright
130 Gifted
145 Highly gifted (approximately 1 in 1,000)
160 Exceptionally gifted (approximately 1 in 100,000)
180+ Profoundly gifted (approximately 1 in 1,000,000)

Understanding the Wechsler Tests

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children WISC is a battery of tests for 6 to 17 year olds that evaluates intellectual abilities. The WISC consists of two scales, the Verbal Scale and the Performance Scale. Each of these scales has several subtests.These sub-test scores are scaled from 1 - 19, with 10 being an average score. The Verbal Scale measures language expression, comprehension, listening, and the ability to apply these skills to solving problems. The examiner gives the questions orally, and the child gives a spoken response. The Performance Scale assesses nonverbal problem solving, perceptual organization, speed, and visual-motor proficiency. Included are tasks like puzzles, analysis of pictures, imitating designs with blocks, and copying.

It is important to review the sub-test scores; they can identify strengths and weaknesses of the child. One or two unusually low sub-test scores may indicate a potential learning disability, which could lower a child's overall IQ score and make a gifted child look "average". Relatively low scores mixed with higher scores could make a gifted child look 'non-gifted' when in fact he could be "twice exceptional".

[See our pages on "twice exceptional"]

Ceiling effects, or high scores on sub-tests may also be particularly misleading in cases where the child has widely varying abilities. If the student has two or more sub-test scores in the ceiling range (17 - 19) indicating that the child reached the ceiling of the test, he might be re-tested using a test designed to differentiate highly gifted children. If your student "maxes-out" one or more subtests you can safely assume that your student is probably "gifted" if not highly gifted in that area. Having the Stanford Binet administered at that point is probably a good idea if you really want to know if your student is highly gifted. Recognizing that your student is gifted in one of the subtests may also help you determine a dominant learning style.

[See our pages on "learning styles"]

Intelligence tests are samples of problem solving abilities and learned facts, and are good predictors of future learning and academic success. However, there are several factors that the tests do not measure. For instance, they cannot determine motivation, curiosity, creative talent, work habits, study skills, or achievement in academic subjects. These should also be considered when interpreting the scores in this report.

Several scores are obtained from the WISC. Scale scores (Verbal and Performance IQ scores) are the summary measures of verbal and performance skills, and the Full Scale IQ is an index of general intellectual functioning. Scores on the WISC of 135 or above may be artificially low since the test itself has a maximum of 150.

A typical report summary may look like:

IQ Scale / Index

IQ Scale Score


Confidence Interval


Verbal IQ





Performance IQ





Full Scale IQ





Verbal Comprehension Index





Perceptual Organization Index





Freedom From Distractibility Index





Processing Speed Index





A Percentile rank expresses the relative position of a score. For example, a percentile rank of 98 means that a child has scored as well as or better than 98% of students of the same age on that subtest. The confidence interval indicates the probable range of scores which can be expected when this individual is retested. Subtest scaled scores (listed below) range from 1 to 19.


Scaled Score

%ile Rank


Verbal Subtests







General factual knowledge, long term memory




Abstract reasoning, categories, relationships




Attention, concentration, numerical reasoning




Word knowledge, verbal fluency




Social judgment, common sense reasoning

Digit Span



Short term auditory memory, concentration

Performance Subtests




Picture Completion



Alertness to essential detail




Visual motor co-ordination, speed, concentration

Picture Arrangement



Sequential, logical thinking

Block Design



Spatial, abstract visual problem solving

Object Assembly



Visual analysis, construction of objects

Symbol Search



Speed of processing novel information




Fine motor co-ordination, planning, following directions









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Originally posted March 2005, developed December 2004