Tag: IQ

“Those Test Scores MUST be Wrong!!”

I hear this so often from parents. They get a cognitive score or even an IQ score on their child and the number is very different from what they observe at home. Some tell me that their child is reading far above grade level. How can he/she not be scoring in the gifted range?

There is a simple answer. There are NO subtests on an IQ battery that test reading, or math or science. That is not the purpose of an IQ test; testing academic skills requires a different approach.

That is the reason we often do academic testing along with IQ testing. The academic testing is sometimes referred to as “achievement testing” and often includes reading skills (decoding and reading comprehension), math abilities (reasoning and calculation), science knowledge, spelling and writing skills. Some of these tests also include a measure of what they call “fluency.” This indicates how quickly the child can complete the task.

Why are these important?

  • Achievement tests can help in planning academic programs. Where should we provide academic support? Where should we mainstream a handicapped child, based on his/her strengths?
  • This type of test information really helps to measure how effective academic interventions are.  For example, if your child is getting extra reading help on a regular basis, has there been any change in scores?  If not, you will need to go back and modify the program.
  • Sometimes, we compare IQ data with achievement data. Some students score in the average range of IQ but then do poorly on the achievement tests. The question, then, is why is this child not acquiring academic skills at the rate we would expect.  There are many factors that interfere with learning so this situation requires some detective work.
  • Another comparison that is made is between achievement data and grades. Some students are doing poorly on their report cards, but when tested, show good ability. This is another case where we need to look for outside causes that may be impacting the student.
  • These tests give some benchmarks for students. Schools will sometimes measure progress by what goals a student has achieved but there is no way to independently measure progress. These tests give that additional data.

Specialized Achievement Tests

In addition to the batteries, there are some tests that provide a more detailed look at specific subjects. The most frequently used are the tests that assess reading. There is a wide variety available. Some look at reading comprehension. Others target oral reading ability. There are a number that evaluate a student’s ability to sound out, or decode words.

There are also several good tests that assess math abilities. These will help with progress both in math calculation skills as well as measuring math reasoning, as would be found in algebra.

Writing is another academic area that has gotten attention recently. There are tests that are sensitive to the organization of writing, the vocabulary used in written work, and the quality of the themes expressed.

Much less testing attention is focused on science or social studies. I suspect this is because people assume that reading and math are the foundational skills on which science and social students are built.

Don’t forget—achievement testing is important in planning educationally for your child!

IQ Tests

Those dreaded words, “It’s a test!” Even after being out of school for many years, the idea of a test still makes us nervous.  So, if it has been suggested that your child needs to have an IQ test done, here are some things that you need to know.

What are they?

There are all kinds of IQ tests.  Each type has some strength in terms of what they measure and some weaknesses. Often, a psychologist will ask you to outline your concerns and then will pick the test that will best answer your questions.  In a separate blog, I will review a number of these tests to give you an idea of what each one is like.

The tests themselves are made up of sub-tests.  What psychological researchers and test developers have done is to identify each kind of “cognitive” skill (meaning thinking skill).  Then they have analyzed school success and determined the most important cognitive skill that is related to good school performance. Then, they try to find tasks for those cognitive skills and include them in the battery. Parents often ask me specifically how each task relates to schoolwork, and the truth is that it is a statistical relationship. IQ tests don’t test reading or math, for example. Sometimes, parents are confused by this and don’t realize that the tests are developed to predict overall school success. For example, an IQ Test could be used to predict how well a student will do overall in high school.

On some of the IQ tests, we can look at some patterns in the sub-test scores and answer some other questions about how your child learns.  Some of them can help us identify if your child is a verbal learner or a visual learner.  On some, we can measure how efficiently your child works on specific kinds of tasks.  Some of the newer tests have included more sections on reasoning.

The sub-tests that are included are designed to give us information about how successful your child is likely to be in school.  Remember, they do not measure life success.  This is a common misconception.


What information can we get from them?

IQ tests help us get a general idea of what our expectations should be about school performance.   Other factors may be involved, but IQ test data can help us make good academic choices for our children.

Students with ADD sometimes have a specific pattern of sub-test scores that helps make that diagnosis.  IQ tests can identify some specific types of learning disabilities.

What can’t an IQ test do?

It can’t diagnose reading disabilities, dyslexia or math disabilities.  Other tests, in addition to an IQ test, are needed.  It can’t diagnose autism or autism spectrum disorders.  It can’t diagnose emotional difficulties such as depression or anxiety.

So, if your child needs an IQ test, no worries!!

  • Most of the time, children think they are playing “games.” It is far less stressful than the tests you remember.
  • The results should help you plan for your child. They provide a road map for school services, not a “life sentence” of any sort.  I advise parents to use this data only for what it was designed to do—to plan for school.


      IQ tests can’t predict life success.  IQ data must never be used to judge a child’s value.  Even though in popular use, it is implied that high IQs are better or more valuable, that just is not true.  Your child’s worth should never be linked to a number!