What Is the WISC Test and for What Children Is it For?

Although the WISC test can be administered to any child between the ages of 6 and 16, it's particularly suitable for detecting high capacities, learning disorders, or intellectual disabilities.
What Is the WISC Test and for What Children Is it For?

Last update: 27 May, 2022

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, or the WISC test, is a tool to assess IQ in children under the age of 16.

Since the first edition of the test was published in 1949, specialists have improved and updated it. The most updated version, the WISC-V, was published in 2014.

In this article, we’ll talk about the most important characteristics of the WISC test.

What Exactly Is the WISC Test?

WISC test

The WISC test aims to assess the learning process during a child’s school years.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children is an intelligence test applicable to children and teenagers between the ages of 6 to 16. Therefore, it covers mainly primary and secondary educational levels.

When it was first published in 1949, the test was a version of the Wechsler–Bellevue Intelligence Scale. However, after several versions, updates, and upgrades, the test has become one of the best child intelligence measurement tools.

It’s often applied by psychologists and education specialists in schools and specialized centers all around the world.

The latest version is the WISC-V, published in 2014.

What Does it Evaluate?

In general, the WISC test assesses five aspects or levels of intelligence:

  • Verbal comprehension index. As the name suggests, it reflects the child’s ability to verbally reason. In this case, this aspect is closely related to the child’s semantic knowledge.
  • Visual spatial index. It reflects the ability to understand visual details and relationships to solve puzzles and build geometric designs.
  • Fluid reasoning index. It reflects the ability to detect relationships between visual objects.
  • Working memory index. It reflects the ability to retain and manipulate heard or seen information.
  • Processing speed index. It reflects the child’s ability to make accurate decisions.

After measuring the different aspects, the child’s score is compared to the average for their age. Thus, age is a determining factor in the final result.

Precisely for this reason, although it can be applied to any child, the WISC test is usually applied to individuals whose IQs need to be determined. For example, the test is often used to diagnose high capacities, learning disorders, or intellectual disabilities.

What Kind of Tests Does the WISC Include?

A professional administering the WISC test to a group of children.

The WISC test includes the following tests:

  • Similarities and vocabulary for the assessment of the verbal comprehension index.
  • Blocks and visual puzzles for the assessment of the visual spatial index.
  • Matrixes, scales, and arithmetic for the assessment of the fluid reasoning index.
  • Digits and pictures for the assessment of the working memory index.
  • Coding, symbol search, and cancellation for the assessment of the processing speed index.

In addition, the different tests are in various classifications according to the format of the items, that is, depending on the type of responses they accept or stimuli they present. Here are some examples:

  • Free response items. Tests where the child should explain similarities between two things, explain concepts or riddles, etc.
  • Symbol search. The child must indicate whether the given symbols match a given model.
  • Block design. Children should reproduce a displayed model with blocks. In addition, other tests include completing a matrix or indicating which option completes an incomplete figure.
  • Arithmetic problems. Children have to mentally solve simple math problems.
  • Letter-number sequencing. The child must organize a series of letters, numbers, or disorganized digits from highest to lowest or alphabetically.
  • Picture span. The child must relate pictures with numbers, keys, symbols, etc. For example, a characteristic test is to find a particular animal on a page full of pictures of other things or animals.

Some of them are verbal, others should be done with pen and paper, and others are manual.

We recommend that you read: Intuitive Intelligence: Do You Have It?

How Do They Administer the WISC Test?

A qualified professional can administer the WISC test in public or private schools or in private centers both individually and collectively.

In this sense, parents should know that this test is quite expensive. This is due to the price of the material and the special training the professional must have undergone to be able to apply it.

Moreover, the duration of the test depends on the child’s response speed. However, it usually lasts from an hour to an hour and a half. However, the results are often immediate, except when i many children take it at once.

The Results

A child with a learning disability.

As we mentioned above, specialists compare the child’s score to the standard score average. A child can score:

  • Below average
  • Low average
  • Average
  • High average
  • Superior
  • Very superior

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Consejo General de Psicología, España (s.f.), Evaluación de la Escala de Inteligencia de Wechsler V para niños (WISC-V), https://www.cop.es/uploads/PDF/2016/WISC-V.pdf
  • Anaya, D. (2002). Diagnóstico en educación. Madrid. 
  • Kaufman, A. S., Raiford, S. E., & Coalson, D. L. (2016). Intelligent Testing with the WISC-V. Nueva York.
  • Wright, A. J. (2020). Equivalence of remote, digital administration and traditional, in-person administration of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, (WISC-V). Psychological assessment.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.