FAQ’s about IQ Tests For Young Children

1) Which subtests of the IQ test will my child take?

When we talk about IQ Tests, we are talking about tests such as the WPPSI®-III or IV or the Stanford-Binet V, tests that are administered by psychologists working one-on-one with your child. These tests often have many subtests, but your child is not always given every possible subtest from the instrument.

The subtests that are administered depend on the reason why your child is being assessed. If your child is being assessed to qualify for a private school program, for example, the private schools usually direct the psychologist as to which subtests should be administered. In cities like Manhattan, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta, there are test administration groups that administer the test one time to a child, and that score can be used for applications to schools across the city. In those locations, every child will be given the same subtests that the association of independent schools has decided they want all children to be given.

If your child is being assessed to determine if she has a learning issue, the psychologist will use her judgment as to whether a full scale IQ test should be given, or whether a more limited assessment is called for. IQ tests generally have Core Subtests, Supplemental Subtests, and Optional Subtests. The psychologist may substitute some subtests for others if your child has limitations in language or motor skills, or if for any reason she feels a different subtest is more appropriate to helping her understand your child’s learning delays.

2) How long does the test take?

Depending on whether or not the psychologist is giving the full test, administration times may vary. On many of the subtests on IQ tests, children start with a question that is easy for them and they are allowed to keep going until they miss 4 or 5 in a row (or until they get to the end of the questions in a subtest). So children who answer more questions may take longer to be tested. Generally, the test lasts 30 – 45 minutes for younger children (i.e. ages 2:6 – 3:11) and 45 – 60 minutes for older children (i.e. ages 4:0 to 7:7).

3) If my child is 4, will he be compared to all 4-year-olds or to 4-year-olds that are born in the same month in which he was born?

On the WPPSI® tests for young children, kids are compared to other children born within 3 months of themselves. So a child born January 1 who takes the test the day after her birthday would be compared to children who are 4:0 (as she is) through 4:2 – a 3-month age band. Many parents try to schedule the test when their child is at the oldest part of the age band so she will be compared to younger children (with this child, that would be at the end of March). If this is easy for you to do, it is probably a good idea, but you don’t always have control over when your child will be tested. If you can’t control when the test will be given, you shouldn’t get too stressed about it. There are often good reasons to wait and have a child tested as late as possible, and that might preclude the child from being tested at the “best” part of the age band.

On the Stanford-Binet V, young children are compared to other children born within 2 months of their birthday.

4) If my child doesn’t give a complete answer on a verbal item, can the psychologist encourage him to say more?

Yes, when a child’s answer is incomplete or vague, the psychologist can say, “Tell me more” or “What else” or “Can you explain that to me?”

5) If my child isn’t following instructions, can they be repeated?

Yes, on tasks that are not timed, instructions can be repeated if the child isn’t following the instructions or if the child requests that the instructions be repeated. When the instructions are allowed to be repeated, they can usually be repeated as often as is requested by the child. On timed subtests, instructions may be repeated, but the time to repeat the instructions will be included in your child’s completion time.

If your child does ask for the instructions to be repeated a lot, or if she fails to follow instructions, this will probably result in a notation in the comments section of your child’s test. Private schools that are considering children for admission do pay attention to how well your child listens and pays attention to instructions. For this reason, it is important for you to work with your child on her listening, focusing and following directions skills.

6) Will the psychologist show my child how to do each type of subtest before the actual test starts?

Yes, there are always sample questions where the child is shown what to do and how to answer each type of question. After they have completed one or two sample items successfully, they will go ahead and begin working on the subtest. The psychologist is instructed not to proceed to the actual test until she is sure the child understands what to do.

7) How do I explain to my child why he is being tested?

You might say something along these lines. “Today you’ll be working with a special teacher who wants to know everything that 4 year olds know. The teacher is very nice, just like your teacher, Mrs. Smith. You’ll be working with blocks, playing with puzzles, and answering questions like the questions you answer in school. Just do the very best you can and show her how much 4-year-olds like you know! You may not know the answer to all the questions you’re asked, and that’s just fine. Just give your best guess to whatever she asks, and do your best on each puzzle or activity.”

8) If I don’t understand my child’s test scores or report, will the psychologist sit down with me and explain it?

Before your child is tested, talk to the psychologist. Ask her if a follow up consultation either in person or by phone is included in the cost of the assessment. If not, you may have to pay extra for the private consultation. But if you have any question about your child’s performance, it will be important for you to talk to the psychologist and get a more detailed understanding of what your child’s scores mean.

For Practice questions for IQ Tests, visit www.TestingMom.com or take a look at IQ Fun Park, the test prep kit disguised as a game.

WPPSI®-IV – The New ERB – How is It Different From the Old Test…and How to Prepare?

In yesterday’s post, we talked about how the ERB administers many tests to children for private school admissions in NYC. In the last few years, they gave 8 out of 14 subtest from the WPPSI®-III and called it the ECAA or Early Childhood Admissions Assessment. The WPPSI®-III has been updated and is now the WPPSI®-IV. It is a good bet that the ERB will adopt portions of this test to assess children applying to private school in NYC. Throughout the U.S., the WPPSI®-IV is administered as a qualifier for children applying to private schools. Today, we’ll talk about some of the new subtests on the WPPSI®-IV. If you want to learn more about this test, you can CLICK HERE to learn what Pearson, the test publisher, says about it in material it has published on-line.

Below, I will tell you about the new subtests on the WPPSI®-IV. At TestingMom.com, we have practice materials to help your child build the skills needed for each subtest. These activities, questions, and games are immediately accessible as soon as you join the site. I always recommend joining at the top 1% level as that is where you will get the most practice materials. I would also like to suggest some publicly available games and activities you can do to build the skills needed to do well on each subtest. Please note that if your child is taking the WPPSI®-IV through the ERB in NYC, we don’t know which of the subtests they will be administering – that has not yet been announced.

3 New Measures of Processing Speed

Processing speed captures how quickly your child can perform the activities on the test. Faster processing speed means that your child is able to absorb information and master material at a quicker pace. Being able to work quickly requires your child to focus his attention, scan, discriminate, and manipulate visual information in his mind. Children whose brains work faster are thought to be “smarter.” On tests that measure processing speed, children are timed and given a limited amount of time to complete the task. With the 3 subtests we are about to cover, children use an ink dauber or “stamper” to indicate their responses. Each of the subtests below require solid visual-spatial reasoning, thinking and memory abilities in order to excel.

Bug Search

This is essentially a “matching” activity done within a specific time limit. The child sees the bug in the far left box and must “stamp” the matching bug with his ink dauber. This activity is used with children ages 4:0 – 7:7. There are 66 matching questions. Below (top) is the sample of “Bug Search” that can be found on the test publisher’s website.

You can find similar activities to this one in many educational workbooks designed for children. To build up your child’s “matching” skills, there are tons of early childhood education games you might consider purchasing for your child. Just go to Amazon.com and type in “match game” and many games designed to build these skills will pop up.


With this subtest, a sample of which is shown from the test publisher’s brochure, children ages 4:0 to 7:7 are shown a series of related objects – in this case, items of clothing. They are then shown an organized (i.e. in rows) and later, an unorganized (i.e. “random”) page filled with items of clothing mixed with other child-friendly items like toys, animals, cars, etc. The child must use his ink dauber and stamp each item of clothing that he sees within a specified time. Some good activities to do with your child to build the skills required to do well on this visual-recognition/classification subtest are the “Spot it, Jr.” games, which can be found at Amazon.com. I would also recommend “Where’s Waldo” books, also available at Amazon.com. Another great item to build your child’s visual-spatial reasoning skills needed to perform this activity are the “I Spy” books. You can buy these at the pre-school level and let your child work her way up to trickier and more complex arrays of hidden items. Children love these books and they have no idea that they are building their non-verbal intelligence when they work with them. You can also get these books at Amazon.com.

Animal Coding

The next subtest you’ll find on WPPSI®-IV is Animal Coding, designed for children ages 4:0 – 7:7. Here is a picture of an animal coding worksheet from the Test Publisher’s brochure: Here, children use their ink daubers and stamp the shape that goes with each animal according to the “key” given to them. So (for example), they would stamp a circle when they see a fish, a star when they see a cat, and a square when they see a turtle. There are 72 items. While the child is able to look back at the key to remind himself what to stamp with which animal, that will slow him down. So having a good working memory really helps a child move quickly through this subtest. This subtest has taken the place of “Coding” on the old WPPSI®-III, where children used to make a specific mark when they saw a particular shape tied to a key. The new Animal Coding is much more child-friendly for young kids whose fine-motor skills are just emerging.

New Working Memory Subtests

Another change to the WPPSI®-IV is that Working Memory tasks have been added. Unlike the subtests measuring processing speed, these are not timed. If you read Testing For Kindergarten, you’ll remember that memory – including working memory – is one of the 7 abilities children need for success in school and on tests. Memory is fundamental to higher order thinking. Without it, you cannot think, reason, hypothesize, solve problems or make decisions. Working memory is your child’s ability to retrieve information he was just given, hold on to it, and then do something with it. It is critical to a child’s long-term cognitive success, which is why it has been added to the WPPSI®-IV. The two new Working Memory tasks are both visual. You’ll find aural working memory tasks on tests such as WISC®-IV, where children listen to strings of numbers and letters given to them by the tester – they then have to repeat the letters and numbers back to the tester in a different order. This requires hearing and not seeing the information they must work with. On the WPPSI®-IV, it is visual working memory that is assessed.

Picture Memory

This image comes from the Test Publisher’s brochure on the WPPSI®-IV. In this case, the child from age 2:6 to 7:7 would have previously been shown a “stimulus” picture of one of these items – the star, perhaps. Then the child would be shown the star mixed into an array of other items. She is asked to look at the “stimulus” picture for a short period of time, remember it and then point to the item she just saw. This subtest can get harder by having more “stimulus” pictures and/or more pictures within the array of answer choices. Pictures children have seen earlier in the test may also be repeated, so the child has to remember if this was something she just saw, or something she saw earlier on a different question. There are 35 items on this subtest.

Zoo Locations
Here is what Zoo Locations looks like – the source of the image is the Test Publisher’s Brochure. With Zoo Locations, the child (age 2:6 – 7:7) views an animal card (or cards) that has been placed on a zoo location map for a brief period of them. The card(s) is removed and the child must place the card(s) where it was located before. There are 20 questions. As with the Picture Memory subtest, doing well on this requires strong visual-spatial working memory skills.

To build your child’s visual-spatial working memory abilities, any game that is similar to the old “Concentration” game is recommended. CLICK HERE for an Arthur Concentration game that I found on Amazon.com. If you go to Amazon and type in “memory game,” a number of fun memory games come up, including the Original Memory game and some themed-memory games (such as Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street) that may appeal to your child.

There are many other differences between the WPPSI®-III and WPPSI®-IV, which I will write about in future posts. For now, I wanted to show you some of the biggest changes, which are reflected in the sections I wrote about above. At www.TestingMom.com, we have created practice questions and activities that build skills needed for each of the subtests on the WPPSI-IV. If your child will be taking the WPPSI®-IV anytime soon for school admissions consideration, I’d encourage you to join at the top 1% level and work with our materials that are original and different from the test, but designed to help your child build the underlying skills needed to do well on the WPPSI®-IV. I’d also encourage you to mix the TestingMom.com activities with some of the games from Amazon that I suggested above. Always keep your test prep fun and playful – that is how your child will learn best.

Sources of Information about WPPSI®-IV:

Test Publisher’s website: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/HAIWEB/Cultures/en-us/Productdetail.htm?Pid=WPPSI-IV
Test Publisher’s brochure: http://www.pearsonassessments.com/hai/Images/Products/WPPSI-IV/brochure.pdf

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™ – Third Edition (WPPSI™ – III) and Fourth Edition (WPPSI™ – IV) are registered trademarks of Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliate(s), or their licensors. TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com are not affiliated with nor related to Pearson Education, Inc or its affiliates (“Pearson”). Pearson does not sponsor or endorse any TestingMom.com product, nor have TestingMom.com products or services been reviewed, certified, or approved by Pearson. Trademarks referring to specific test providers are used by TestingMom.com and TestingForKindergarten.com for nominative purposes only and such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.