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.
If you have an older child who will be taking the WISC-IV or the Stanford-Binet IV or even the Stanford-Binet V, Q-Bitz™ is an excellent game to work with beforehand. Both the WISC-IV and the Stanford-Binet IV have a block design subtest where the child must replicate a set of modeled or two-dimensional geometric patterns using cubes that have solid white sides, solid colored sides, and sides that are divided diagonally and painted two colors. This is a timed test, similar to the Block Design test given to younger students on the WPPSI-III. The child is shown a pattern and given 60 to 120 seconds to replicate that pattern using the 3-D blocks.
Here is how Q-Bitz works. Each player gets a tray of cubes. A player turns over a Q-Bitz card. Players race to recreate the pattern on the card. The first one to complete the pattern shouts, “Q-Bitz!” If everyone agrees that the player correctly recreated the pattern, then that player is awarded the card. In the early rounds of this game, players can look at the pattern card while replicating it. In later rounds, they are given 10 seconds to memorize the card and they must recreate it from memory. At the end of the game, whoever has been awarded the most cards for correctly recreating patterns is the winner.
If you’ve read my blogs and my book, you know that I am against having children work with materials that are almost exactly the same real test materials. I do support working with different materials that help children build the underlying skills needed to do well on a test. That is why we sell blue and yellow pattern tiles at TestingMom.com. They are different from materials used in the actual test, but they do teach the visual spatial reasoning skills that are needed to do well on the WPPSI or the WISC.
The materials in Q-Bitz are also quite different from those used in a real test. The cubes in the game are much smaller, they are different colors, and they include a side with a circle, which is different from the cubes used in the test. Frankly, copying patterns during a Q-Bitz game is much harder than copying patterns using the larger blocks on an actual test. That is why I would recommend that you play Q-Bitz with your OLDER child if he is going to take the WISC or Stanford-Binet IV. I do have a few caveats. Q-Bitz is for children age 8 and over. Do not use this with younger children who are going to take the WPPSI. The blocks are way too small for their little fingers and the patterns are too complicated.
My husband, kids and I played a few rounds of Q-Bitz just to test it out. The competitive aspect of the game made it lots of fun. The blocks are very small and the patterns are quite complicated, which made the game a struggle for me (my visual-spatial reasoning abilities are not the greatest). I didn’t win one round! But I had a lot of fun and my skills improved with each pattern I tried to copy. Based on our experience, I’d say this game will be difficult for 8-year-olds (even though it is for kids age 8 and up). You will want to start a younger child out with the simplest patterns to replicate. But it is a fun game and a game where a child’s skills will improve with practice, which is why I recommend it for older children who will be tested in the coming months.
If you want to learn more about Q-Bitz, it is on page 3 of my top 20 recommended products at at Testing For Kindergarten. Even though I have it at this kindergarten site, remember – it is for older children. If you have a younger child who will be taking a test involving block design, please work with the pattern tiles at TestingMom.com, or have your child replicate patterns that you make with parquetry blocks, which are on page 1 of my top 20 recommended products. Both will go a long way in helping a young child build the visual spatial reasoning skills needed for early childhood testing.
While I do believe Q-Bitz and our pattern tiles are great to help children preparing for the WPPSI-III or WPPSI-IV, the WISC-IV, the Stanford-Binet IV or V, the game and the tiles are also excellent in helping your child build his or her visual spatial reasoning skills in general. If you have a child who will be taking the Naglieri or NNAT®2 test, working with these materials will strengthen their ability to work with geometric figures and shapes – a skill that is needed to handle every subtest on the NNAT2.
Also, as a reminder, if you do have a child who will be taking the WISC or WPPSI in the coming months, TestingMom.com has thousands of practice questions to help your child prepare for the these tests. Questions to help your child prepare for the WPPSI-IV will be added in the summer of 2012.