blog 13.9.17My child’s WISC IV report has lots of other scores besides an IQ. What do they mean?   

In addition to a Full Scale IQ, the WISC IV also yields four “Composite” standard scores in the areas of verbal reasoning, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.

The Verbal Comprehension Composite assesses the child’s use and understanding of language using subtests that assess abstract reasoning, vocabulary development, and common sense reasoning. A child with an average score in Verbal Comprehension can participate in conversation, understand directions, follow classroom discussion, and explain his ideas as well as other students his age.

The Perceptual Reasoning Composite assesses nonverbal reasoning and problem solving. It is composed of subtests that measure nonverbal abstract reasoning skills, perceptual reasoning, and perceptual organization. Ability to maintain consistent focus and attention impact these subtests. Students with average scores should be able to follow a sequence in solving problems, interpret visual or three-dimensional representations of concepts (illustrations or models), and show average artistic ability.

The Working Memory Composite reflects a child’s ability to recall, manipulate, and sequence auditory information. This test measures rote verbal leaning, working memory, and the ability to sequence auditory information. The student’s score can be affected by the use of strategies and her ability to concentrate on the task. A student with average Working Memory should be able, for example, to memorize math facts with some practice.

Processing Speed is the fourth Composite score on the WISC. This composite measures the speed and accuracy of visual motor integration. The subtests use a paper and pencil format and have time limits. The student’s score is affected by perceptual discrimination, persistence, concentration, and fine motor dexterity. A student with an average Processing Speed composite should finish written class work at a pace similar to his peers.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues.


  • Alt
    Tue, 09/17/2013 - 1:59pm reply

    Dr. Mulcahey,
    Is re-testing ever recommended? I've always wonder if this is beneficial as a child ages and matures or as they move from the primary to intermediate or intermediate to junior high level.
    Kim Melson

  • Alt
    Tue, 09/17/2013 - 3:44pm reply

    Intelligence testing is usually not repeated unless the school team has a major concern to be addressed through the evaluation. IQ scores tend to be stable. When a student is entering college some universities require the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale as part of the determination to grant accommodations. That might be the only time that a full re-evaluation will be necessary. Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Sat, 05/17/2014 - 10:01pm reply

    My son was tested last September (private diagnostician) using SB V and scored 142. The public school retested him (in the school, he was distracted)with ABC Kauffman and his score was 122.. Now the school retested him today with WISC and we will know the score by next week. What could have caused the 20 point discrepancy? Did my son's giftedness suddenly deteriorated?

  • Alt
    Fri, 09/05/2014 - 3:04am reply

    Intelligence testing is very good for the future. Kids can be categorized and so that they can perform well in the given tasks.

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  • Alt
    Fri, 05/22/2015 - 4:45am reply

    My 15 year old son just took this test. Can you interpret what I was given and also tell me his IQ?
    Thank you for your help.
    WISC-IV Scales Composite Scores 90% confidence

    Verbal Comprehension 124 117-128
    Perceptual Reasoning 98 92-105
    Working Memory 104 97-110
    Processing Speed 85 79-94
    Full Scale 106 102-110

    WISC-IV Subtests Scaled scores

    Block Design 13
    Similarities 15
    Digit Span 9
    Picture Concepts 10
    Coding 7
    Vocabulary 15
    Letter-Number Seq. 13
    Matrix Reasoning 6
    Comprehension 12
    Symbol Search 8

  • Alt
    Thu, 06/18/2015 - 11:01pm reply

    Two of my sons have been diagnosed with SLD and mostly likely dyslexia (but he is young, 6). My concerns in helping them overcome their journey is the social/emotional piece of surviving school and helping them to define their real purpose. They are both have high IQ's and even superior and clinically significant ratings. How can I support them and avoid the depression, shame and stigma of kids with learning disabilities?

  • Alt
    Thu, 07/16/2015 - 12:08pm reply

    Your concern regarding the social/emotional impact of having a Learning Disability is a legitimate one. Helping your boys find their passions and gifts outside of school has a positive effect on self confidence and self esteem. You are probably already involving them in extra curricular activities to foster their other talents. Having LD does not mean that your boys won't be successful in school. In the early grades, the emphasis on the acquisition of spelling and reading skills can lead to reduced morale and refusing to go to school. Make teachers aware of their other assets. Enlist family members who struggled in school and are now successful to talk with your boys about the strategies they used to succeed with LD. IF there is a private school for students with LD in your community see if they offer a summer program. Your sons would gain exposure to other bright youngsters with LD by participating in a program for these unique learners. Look at Springer's website for other blogs on this topic and under the resource section on the website. Your sons already have a great asset- YOU!

  • Alt
    Wed, 08/12/2015 - 10:59am reply

    The IQ is listed on the line that says "Full Scale" and would be 106. Your son has a wonderful strength in the area of using and understanding language. For interpretation of the evaluation, please go back to the evaluator. The person who administered the evaluation will have objective observations that will impact interpretation of the results. Were other measures administered? Again -- I strongly recommend that you return to the professional to further discuss the meaning of the results and how they might impact his performance in school and at home. Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Wed, 08/12/2015 - 11:40am reply

    A child was administered the Stanford Binet V received a standard score of 142 (99th percentile), then was given the Kaufman ABC in school and obtained a score of 122 (93rd percentile). The parent wondered why the huge difference in scores. When you have a question like this, do not hesitate to ask the professionals who administered the test. Some public school districts require that a particular test of cognitive ability be used to qualify for a gifted program. Other districts qualify children based on results of academic achievement tests that are administered to all students. Check with the school district for the specific requirements to qualify for placement in a gifted program. Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Mon, 09/07/2015 - 5:10am reply

    Am baffled at the result of my child's WISC-IV test. My child is 6 years and 3 months and scored the following:

    VCI 130
    WMI 123
    PSI 126

    But for PRI, there was no composite score but the raw scores for the following sub-tests are shown:
    BD 14
    PC 15
    MR 19

    What composite score for PRI would correspond to the above subtest scores? Thanks for your help.

  • Alt
    Tue, 09/08/2015 - 11:01am reply

    Hi Peggy -- Go back to the Psychologist who administered the evaluation and ask them to insert the Composite score for the Perceptual Reasoning Index to the evaluation report. If a Full Scale IQ was reported, the Psychologist may simply have overlooked noting the Perceptual Reasoning Index in the final report. Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Wed, 10/26/2016 - 4:44pm reply

    How is the FSIQ decided???
    Verbal Comprehension 126
    Perceptual Reasoning 135
    Worming Memory 116
    Processing Speed 112
    Full Scale 130
    General Ability Index 140

  • Alt
    Thu, 12/22/2016 - 11:09am reply

    My son is 16 and he was just tested. His scores are almost identical your son's scores. Can you please help me and let me know what services your child was able to get with this profile. I'm going crazy trying to figure this all out and I want to get it right. Thanks so much!

  • Alt
    Wed, 01/04/2017 - 8:59am reply

    Hi Anonymous. By Fall of 2016 most Psychologists were administering the updated WISC V. There is no longer a
    Perceptual Reasoning Composite on the WISC V. That being the case, the Composite standard scores on the old WISC IV were calculated based on the scaled scores of the individual subtests. Psychologists enter those numbers into a program, or look them up in the Administration and Scoring Manual for the specific version of the Wechsler. The Composite Scores are then used in a similar way to determine the Full Scale IQ. If you have questions about the results, go back to the Psychologist who administered the evaluation for clarification! Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Wed, 01/04/2017 - 9:40am reply

    Hi Debbie - I am hoping that your 16 year old son was given the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IV, not the WISC IV - which is no longer in use. The WAIS IV is administered to individuals aged 16 and over. The typical reason for a 16 year old to be evaluated with the WAIS IV is to provide data to support the need for continued services at the post secondary level or because the high school school counselor believes that an update is needed for accommodations on the ACT or SAT. Consult with the Psychologist who wrote the report and with the School Counselor or School Psychologist. All Universities list the documentation that is needed for support services on their web site. You might find this information under "Disability Services" or "Academic Support Services". Feel free to call the university if you have questions. The high school counselor can help you with requirements for accommodations on the ACT or SAT. Hope that gives you some direction! Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Fri, 02/10/2017 - 4:21pm reply

    Help! I'm so confused with the results. We just got done with our daughters meeting and have found out that her IQ is 84 with an ability level of 62...can someone explain what this means? Is it her overall score is the 84 but what she can actually do is 62?

  • Alt
    Tue, 02/14/2017 - 12:44pm reply

    Hi Sara, I have no idea what the Psychologist meant by an ability level of 62. Make an appointment and go back to the Psychologist and ask for clarification. Mary Ann Mulcahey PhD

  • Alt
    Tue, 05/30/2017 - 2:20pm reply

    Hi, everyone,

    When my son took the Wisc IV, the psychologist only gave us the results for the individual tests but not the total IQ; she didn't feel it was important for us to dwell on that particular number, I suppose, but I'm curious. I understand that it's not merely the average of the four...
    Would someone qualified be so kind to calculate it for us?

    Verbal Comprehension 155
    Perceptual Reasoning 132
    Working Memory 103
    Processing Speed 124

    Thanks a million for your help!

  • Alt
    Wed, 05/31/2017 - 8:59am reply

    Hi Caroline -- Go back to the Psychologist who administered the evaluation and ask them to give you the Full Scale IQ. Many of us have disposed of our WISC IV materials as that edition is now out of date. Sorry! Dr. Mulcahey

  • Alt
    Sat, 06/10/2017 - 9:48pm reply

    I often see forums discussing the disparity between a high verbal score and average or high-average perceptual reasoning score. However, my child is in the reverse; she has a PRI index of nearly 151 and merely a VCI index of 123. Should there be any concern about this? She has always done well in all areas of school, but it is fairly obvious that she is highly advanced in the area of mathematics. She is still above average in reading comprehension, although she still has trouble understanding much of the material on an advanced level as she does for math-- and she is a good writer (despite the "flaw" in reading). I really want to know if she needs services to combat this issue, as the VCI is still above average, so after all of these years she has just continued to do better than that average student but certainly not a that top as she does in math.

  • Alt
    Thu, 06/15/2017 - 4:20pm reply

    Hi --   I can understand your concern about the Verbal Comprehension standard score at 123 and a Perceptual Reasoning Index of 151.  Look for the percentile rank for each score in the report.  The 123 is at about the 94th percentile, while the Perceptual Reasoning is at the 99th percentile.   Both scores are in the superior range.  Your daughter would not be eligible for any kind of remedial services, as she scores well above her peers on these measures.  Verbal Comprehension does not assess reading or writing skills.  A specific test of reading comprehension or written expression would give you that information.  According to these scores, she has excellent verbal and nonverbal reasoning ability when compared to her peers.  This version of the WISC has now been replaced with the WISC V. 

  • Alt
    Wed, 10/18/2017 - 12:11am reply

    I took the WISC test and scored 98% in high superior range of Perceptual Reasoning, what does this mean for me? Where or how can this be best utilized?

  • Alt
    Mon, 10/30/2017 - 2:28pm reply

    The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children IV was replaced several years ago by the WISC V --  I suggest you get in touch with the psychologist who administered your evaluation.  That psychologist would interpret all the scores and give you an explanation of what the scores mean for you. 

  • Alt
    Mon, 02/19/2018 - 6:55pm reply

    My son has a 28 point discrepancy between verbal & perceptual reasoning skills.
    He has a combined type ADHD diagnosis
    Verbal comprehension 47th percentile
    Perceptual reasoning 96th percentile
    Working memory 61st percentile
    Processing Speed 50th percentile

    What is the key point to learn from the discrepancy? My son who is now 10 and in grade 5 excels in maths and yet struggles with verbal and written language. His working memory and recall are very poor. What should I be pushing for from school in terms of interventions to assist with literacy related tasks and what areas should I be focussing on to play to his strengths? Does this demonstrate an element of giftedness or does he fall into the category of twice exceptional? I am at a loss to interpret the statistical findings. Thank you

  • Alt
    Wed, 02/21/2018 - 9:20pm reply

    Nicky - This version of the WISC was replaced in late 2014 by the WISC V.  I am guessing this evaluation is from a few years ago.  The Verbal Comprehension Composite at the 47th percentile is average, meaning that he functions at the same level as the typical child in his grade. His ability to define words and use abstract verbal reasoning was age typical at the time the tests were given.  It is a measure of verbal reasoning, not reading or writing skills.  The Perceptual Reasoning Composite is very strong, it would make sense that he is good in Math.    The Working Memory Composite on the WISC was also in the average range as was Processing Speed. If your concern is that he has a learning disability he would need to be given standardized assessments for Reading Comprehension, Word Recognition, Spelling and Writing.    The WISC suggests that he has the cognitive capacity to perform at grade level.  If he has also been diagnosed with ADHD you know he makes small errors, might forget homework or try to rush through tasks.  This also impacts school performance.  Check with your school district about the requirements for inclusion in a gifted program.  Some require a Full Scale IQ at the 95th percentile. Many use standardized group assessments such as the IOWA or Stanford tests; a student might qualify as gifted in a subject, such as Math.  Share your concerns and the report with the school psychologist or school counselor.  The evaluation report should have more information that would be helpful to your son's teaching team  as they work with him everyday at school. If the teachers observe that he has deficient literacy or writing skills based on curriculum measures,  school would follow up with intervention.

  • Alt
    Wed, 01/09/2019 - 12:38pm reply

    Hello my daughter has recently taken Wisc V test with the following scores
    VC 130, VS 109, FR 144, WM 136, PS 112
    FSIQ 142 and is based on the following percentiles:
    Similarities 91, Vocab 99, Matrix Reasoning 98, Figure Weights 99.9, Block Design 84,
    Digit Span 99, Coding 98
    Should I not be worrying about the significant discrepancy between the highest and lowest composite scores? (144-109=35) From my understanding the FSIQ is based on the 7 subtests out of the 10...
    Also if the VC component is carried out verbally and the answers could be subjective to the examiner, would the outcome be different if the examiner is more lenient in marking?

    Thank you very much!

  • Alt
    Wed, 01/09/2019 - 1:33pm reply

    Hi --  Yes the FSIQ is based on 7 subtests for the WISC V.  Based on the  percentile ranks that you shared for those 7 subtests, your daughter performed above the average range on all of them!  She has strong verbal and nonverbal reasoning skills. The VSI consists of Block Design and Pattern Analysis, Working Memory consists of Digit Span and Picture Span, Processing Speed consists of Coding and Symbol Search.   For the verbal subtests, the Psychologist has a list of typical answers and point values.  In my experience there is seldom an answer that is not listed in the Manual.  In addition, we always have colleagues that we can consult with in the event that there are questions about scoring.   If you think that the Verbal Comprehension Index seems too high based on daily behavior - check with the Psychologist who performed the evaluation for insight. 

  • Alt
    Mon, 12/16/2019 - 3:23pm reply

    My daughter 10 Years old, took this test and had high average on all but then then very low on PSI: 6th percentile. She is super quick, learned to read at 4, her MAP tests (school assessments that rank them nationally) are off the charts 99% percentile, she completes all work quickly, does above grade level work in all subjects, was top 3 in the state for math in 2nd grade,and there is not a hint of processing issue. Any reason to accept this score as valid?

  • Alt
    Sat, 02/15/2020 - 9:03pm reply

    My daughter is in second grade. She recently took the test. She scored in the average range in all areas except WM. She score in the 12th percentile. Additionally she was given the CTOPP and had a double deficit in rapid naming and Phonological Awareness. The school expressed no LD and only offered to put her on a 504 Plan w accommodations for extra time on assessments and tests and tasks in classroom. She is currently below grade level in math. Her teacher expressed this in meeting and on grade card. Tell more about her WM score. Thank you for your help. Dianna

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