What does the Wechsler Intelligence Scale measure?

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Fifth Edition, Australian Standard (WISC-V) is an individually administered and comprehensive clinical instrument used to assess the general thinking and reasoning skills of children aged six years to 16 years. Test results include a Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score as well as age-equivalent rankings and scores for Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory and Processing Speed composites.

The WISC-V can be used for purposes of identifying an intellectual disability, giftedness, specific learning disabilities, placement in specialised programs and clinical intervention. The assessment usually requires between one-and-a-half and two hours and is administered using iPads.

Our assessment scores are analysed and reported by experienced clinicians.

Skills assessed with WISC-V

The WISC-V psychometric test has been recently updated (2016) to incorporate 75 years of research and advances in the field of intellectual assessment, as well as to reflect the practical and clinical needs of contemporary society.

The WISC-V has 10 primary subtests and supplementary subtests:

  • Similarities and Vocabulary are the two primary subtests that comprise the Verbal Comprehension score.
  • The two primary Visual-Spatial subtests are Block Design and Visual Puzzles.
  • Fluid Reasoning is measured with the two primary subtests, Matrix Reasoning and Figure Weights.
  • Digit Span and Picture Span are the two primary Working Memory subtests and Coding and Symbol Search are the two primary Processing Speed subtests.

The 10 primary subtests, however, do not contribute equally to the Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient or IQ score. The Full-Scale IQ is comprised of seven primary subtests'

  • Similarities
  • Vocabulary
  • Block Design,
  • Matrix Reasoning
  • Figure Weights
  • Digit Span and Coding.

More About the WISC-V Measures

  • The Verbal Comprehension Index measures a child’s ability to access and apply acquired word knowledge. Specifically, this score reflects one’s ability to verbalise meaningful concepts, think about verbal information and express oneself using words.
  • The Visual-Spatial Index measures a child’s ability to evaluate visual details and understand visual-spatial relationships to construct geometric designs from a model. This skill requires visual-spatial reasoning, integration and synthesis of part-whole relationships, attentiveness to visual detail, sometimes using hand-eye coordination, and working quickly and efficiently with visual information.
  • The Fluid Reasoning Index measures a child’s ability to detect the underlying conceptual relationship among visual objects and use reasoning to identify and apply rules. Identification and application of conceptual relationships requires inductive and quantitative reasoning, broad visual intelligence, simultaneous processing and abstract thinking.
  • The Working Memory Index measures a child’s ability to register, maintain and manipulate visual and auditory information in conscious awareness. These tasks measure one’s skills in attention, concentration and mental reasoning as well as visual and auditory discrimination. This skill is closely related to learning and achievement.
  • The Processing Speed Index measures a child’s speed and accuracy of visual identification, decision-making and decision implementation. Performance is related to visual scanning, visual discrimination, short-term visual memory, visuomotor coordination and concentration. This skill may be important to a child’s development in reading and ability to think quickly in general.

The Full-Scale IQ score is derived from seven subtests and summarises ability across the five areas of cognitive ability: Verbal Comprehension, Visual-Spatial, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory and Processing Speed indexes. The WISC–V Full-Scale score is one way to view a child’s general intellectual functioning.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and Adults
The Wechsler Intelligence Scale is an intelligence test that can be administered to both children and adults. Developed by Dr. David Wechsler, a clinical psychologist with Bellevue Hospital, in 1939, the tests measure one's ability to "adapt and constructively solve problems in the environment," as Wechsler defined.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is an individually administered test for children between the ages of 6 and 16. It can be completed without any reading or writing, and takes 65 to 80 minutes to complete. It generates an IQ score, which represents a child's cognitive ability.

The test is divided into 15 subtests, 10 of which are from previous versions of the test. Supplemental subtests are used to accommodate children in rare cases or to make up for spoiled results due to interruptions or other causes.

The WISC contains several of the subtests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale and has been revised five times into the fall 2014 version, the WISC-V.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Adults Designed to measure intelligence in adults and older adolescents, the WISA is in its fourth version which was published by Pearson in 2008. The test contains 10 subtests and 5 supplemental tests. The core tests comprise the entire IQ scale, and determines the capacity of a person to act and think purposefully and rationally and to deal effectively with his environment. It takes around 90 minutes to complete.

The WAIS is appropriate for adults and adolescents ranging from 16 to 90 years of age.

Scoring and Administration Each test is comprised of two groups of subtests: Verbal and Performance. Verbal scales measure general knowledge, language, reasoning, and memory skills. Performance measures spatial, sequencing, and problem-solving skills.

Each test is individually administered by a trained examiner and requires a complex set of test materials. The Full Scale IQ score is determined by a formula that sums the Verbal and Performance IQ scores. A score beyond 130 is considered superior or "gifted", 120-129 is "very high", 110-119 are considered "bright normal", and anything less than 90 is considered average to low average. Anything lower than a 70 signals borderline mental functionality, and any lower than 69 signals mental retardation.

For all official Wechsler materials, visits Pearson Clinical.

The WISC-V is the brand new gold standard assessment tool designed to measure a child's intellectual ability. It is the latest edition to replace the existing WISC-IV assessment tool. It has more interpretive power, is more efficient and more user-friendly version of the Wechsler test and has updated psychometric properties. 

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Australian and New Zealand Standardised, Fifth Edition (WISC-VA&NZ) is an individually administered comprehensive clinical instrument for assessing the cognitive ability/intelligence of children aged 6 years 0 months through 16 years 11 months (6:0 - 16:11).

The WISC-V provides subtest and composite scores that represent intellectual functioning in specific cognitive domains, as well as a composite score that represents the general intellectual ability. The WISC-V is composed of 16 subtests; Subtests can be grouped into two general categories: primary or secondary.

Administration of the 10 primary subtests is recommended for a comprehensive description of intellectual ability. The 6 secondary subtests can be administered in addition to the primary subtests to provide a broader sampling of intellectual functioning and to yield more information for clinical decision making. The 10 primary subtests are used in certain combinations to derive the FSIQ, the five primary index scores and three of the five ancillary index scores. Seven of the ten primary subtests are used to derive the FSIQ.

This assessment provides the following scores:

  • A Composite Score that represents a child's overall intellectual ability (FSIQ)
  • Primary Index Scores that measure the following areas of cognitive functioning: Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI), Visual Spatial Index (VSI), Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI), Working Memory Index (WMI), and the Processing Speed Index (PSI).
  • Ancillary Index Scores are also provided: The Quantitative Reasoning Index (QRI) ; Auditory Working Memory Index (AWMI); Nonverbal Index (NVI); General Ability Index (GAI); and the Cognitive Proficiency Index (CPI).

Some other benefits of the WISC-V include:

  • Updated items and stimuli
  • Added interpretative information useful in assisting the diagnosis of reading disorders, language disorders, ADHD, nonverbal difficulties, visual vs auditory memory deficits, executive function difficulties and visual perception issues.

It is possible for intellectual abilities to change over the course of childhood. Additionally, a child's scores on the WISC-V can be influenced by motivation, attention, interests, and opportunities for learning. For these reasons, some scores might be slightly higher or lower if a child was tested again at another time. It is therefore important to view test scores as a snapshot of a child's current level of intellectual functioning. When these scores are used as part of a comprehensive evaluation, they contribute to an understanding of a child's current strengths and any needs that can be addressed.

Ability Classification of WISC-V

Standard ScoresQualitative DescriptionsPercent of Cases
130 and above Extremely High 2.2 %
120 - 129 Very High 6.7 %
110 - 119 High Average 16.1 %
90 - 109 Average 50 %
80 - 89 Low Average 16.1 %
70 - 79 Very Low 6.7 %
69 and below Extremely Low 2.2%