Dave Evangelisti By: Dave Evangelisti

If you are the parent of a child who shows an advanced level of intelligence for their age, it may be a good idea to look into having your child’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tested. One of the most common tests to use for this is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) test.

The WISC test is an IQ exam that is administered to your child individually by a school or psychologist to test his or her intelligence through a series of tests that relate to five different categories that we will discuss later. Keep reading to learn more about the WISC-V exam.

Summary: Use the WISC testing below to get a better feel for the exam.

Developed in 1949 by a Romanian-American psychologist named David Wechsler, the original WISC exam was made up of subtests in the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Back then, there were only three main subtests: Verbal IQ, Performance IQ, and Full-Scale IQ.

Over the years, the WISC intelligence test has undergone plenty of remodeling. It was revised in 1974 with the same subtests but a different WISC age range. Then the subtests changed in 1991, 2003, and 2014, with the WISC-V coming out in 2014 with twenty-one subtests and fifteen composite scores.

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children test is an exam that is given to children who show increased intelligence to their peers. It can be administered by the school the child is attending or the parents can visit a psychologist to have the test given to their child.

Though the main goal of WISC testing is to see if your child exhibits gifted intelligence levels, another aspect of the exam is to see where they are cognitively strong and where they may be lacking in cognitive skills.

The WISC IQ test is given through a pencil and paper exam or digitally depending on the child’s age and why they are taking the exam. Your child will be one-on-one with an administrator to show how much they know. Depending on subtests used, WISC testing lasts for sixty-eight to eighty minutes.

Though there are twenty-one subtests to the WISC intelligence test, there are ten main ones that your child will likely see on the test no matter what. These WISC-V subtests are split into six main category types. In this section, we will name all the subtests and give a brief description of them.

The twenty-one subtests are as follows:

  • Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI)
    • Vocabulary – the ability of your child to give definitions to words
    • Similarities – the skill of comparing two things that are related
    • Information – answering questions related to general verbal knowledge
    • Comprehension – the knowledge to answer questions relating to general ideas and social situations
  • Visual-Spatial Index (VSI)
    • Block Design (timed) - using two-color blocks, make the model shown in a picture
    • Visual Puzzles (timed) - pick one set of three images that make the puzzle in a picture prompt
  • Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI)
    • Matrix Reasoning – out of an array of five pictures, a child must choose the one that fits the best in the missing square to complete the photo sequence
    • Figure Weights (timed) - when looking at a scale, choose the photo that will balance out the scale
    • Picture Concepts – choose two pictures that have similarities out of a group of photos
    • Arithmetic – the skill to solve either verbal or picture mathematic problems
  • Working Memory Index (WMI)
    • Digit Span – the ability to repeat a number sequence that has been read aloud
    • Picture Span – the skill of recalling photos that were shown earlier
    • Letter-Number Sequencing – listening to a sequence of mixed-up numbers and letters then repeating them back in a particular order
  • Processing Speed Index (PSI)
    • Coding (timed) - using an answer key, copy symbols that match a number code
    • Symbol Search (timed) - identify specific symbols in a row of various symbols
    • Cancellation (timed) - identify specific pictures in a group of pictures and cross them out
  • Other Subtests
    • Naming Speed Literacy (timed) - in the allotted time, name as many pictures as possible from a page of pictures
    • Naming Speed Quantity (timed) - name the quantity of items in each picture in the allotted time
    • Immediate Symbol Translation – translate symbols into sentences based on learned symbol code
    • Delayed Symbol Translation – the same skills as immediate symbol translation, but the child will have an elapsed amount of time from learning the symbol code
    • Recognition Symbol Translation – the same ability as immediate symbol translation but rather than recalling the symbol code, the child must select the correct translation

Typically, two subtests from each of the first five categories (VCI, VSI, FRI, WMI, and PSI) have to be administered to get the full-scale index (FSI) to determine your child’s intelligence.

The tests in bold will be ones that your child will be tested on (primary subtests) while the ones italicized may appear (secondary subtests) on the WISC-V.

Generally, your child will only see the ten bolded subtests unless the administrator needs more information about a specific cognitive area. Your child may also experience only seven of the subtests if there is some time limitation as this saves about thirty minutes of test time.

Another thing that may determine which subtests your child receives is their age. Several age ranges are tested on the WISC-V test. Check out the next section to discover which IQ test your child qualifies for.

Understanding the age range for the WISC-V can be a little complicated. The first thing you need to know is that there are three tests for various age ranges. Your child will likely only qualify for one, but there is some overlap.

If your child is seventeen years old or older, they qualify for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) is administered to children between the ages of two years old and seven years and seven months old.

The WISC age range is children six years old to sixteen years and eleven months old. As you can see, between the age of six and seven years and seven months old, they could qualify for the WPPSI or WISC test. It’s up to you to decide which test they will take.

To examine the results of your child’s test, their results will be compared to those who scored within a three-month age range. To see what WISC age range your child fits into, check the table below:

  WISC Age Ranges  
6 yrs. 0 mos. – 6 yrs. 3 mos. 9 yrs. 8 mos. - 9 yrs. 11 mos. 13 yrs. 4 mos. – 13 yrs. 7 mos.
6 yrs. 4 mos. - 6 yrs. 7 mos. 10 yrs. 0 mos. – 10 yrs. 3 mos. 13 yrs. 8 mos. – 13 yrs. 11 mos.
6 yrs. 8 mos. - 6 yrs. 11 mos. 10 yrs. 4 mos. – 10 yrs. 7 mos. 14 yrs. 0 mos. – 14 yrs. 3 mos.
7 yrs. 0 mos. – 7 yrs. 3 mos. 10 yrs. 8 mos. – 10 yrs. 11 mos. 14 yrs. 4 mos. – 14 yrs. 7 mos.
7 yrs. 4 mos. - 7 yrs. 7 mos. 11 yrs. 0 mos. – 11 yrs. 3 mos. 14 yrs. 8 mos. – 14 yrs. 11 mos.
7 yrs. 8 mos. - 7 yrs. 11 mos. 11 yrs. 4 mos. – 11 yrs. 7 mos. 15 yrs. 0 mos. – 15 yrs. 3 mos.
8 yrs. 0 mos. – 8 yrs. 3 mos. 11 yrs. 8 mos. – 11 yrs. 11 mos. 15 yrs. 4 mos. – 15 yrs. 7 mos.
8 yrs. 4 mos. - 8 yrs. 7 mos. 12 yrs. 0 mos. – 12 yrs. 3 mos. 15 yrs. 8 mos. – 15 yrs. 11 mos.
8 yrs. 8 mos. - 8 yrs. 11 mos. 12 yrs. 4 mos. – 12 yrs. 7 mos. 16 yrs. 0 mos. – 16 yrs. 3 mos.
9 yrs. 0 mos. – 9 yrs. 3 mos. 12 yrs. 8 mos. – 12 yrs. 11 mos. 16 yrs. 4 mos. – 16 yrs. 7 mos.
9 yrs. 4 mos. - 9 yrs. 7 mos. 13 yrs. 0 mos. – 13 yrs. 3 mos. 16 yrs. 8 mos. – 16 yrs. 11 mos.

Though taking practice tests is often discouraged as it may affect your child’s score, some parents may want to expose their child to a practice test before they take the real WISC test. Here is our ten-question quiz with detailed answer explanations to help prepare your child:

WISC Test Practice

Take our test and see how you do. 10 free IQ questions for kids.

Take The Test

Your child’s score will be the ten subtests each combined to make five category scores (for overall SCI, SVI, FRI, WMI, and PSI). Those five scores will be averaged to make a full-scale index (FSI) that becomes your child’s total score.

Here is what your child’s score will look like based on typical IQ rankings:

Composite IQ Score Traditional Description WISC Description
130 or higher Very Superior Extremely High
120-129 Superior Very High
110-119 High Average High Average
90-109 Average Average
80-89 Low Average Low Average
70-79 Borderline Very Low
69 or lower Extremely Low Extremely Low

As you can see, the average range is twenty points of separation while every other category is only ten. This is because that is the average IQ scoring for both adults and children, so there isn’t a way to split it into ten points rather than twenty. Whereas the others are split into ten because those are averages.

What WISC score is gifted?

A score of 130 IQ or higher is considered gifted. 130 to 144 are considered moderately gifted, while 145 to 159 are highly gifted, and a score of 160 or higher is extremely gifted.

What is the WISC and what does it measure?

WISC is a children’s intelligence test that measures the IQ and giftedness of a child.

How accurate is WISC test?

As the WISC has changed over the years, it has become more comprehensive and accurate, so the WISC-V is considered very accurate.