Wechsler IQ Test

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale is the world's leading IQ test
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Learn everything you need to know Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.

What is the Wechsler IQ Test?

For more than 50 years, the Wechsler IQ test has been administered to find the intellect of adults and children alike. This intelligence test is one of the most widely used in the evaluation of both children and adults. The current version of the adult test, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), is in the fourth edition (i.e. WAIS-IV). Data collection for the WAIS-V is currently underway and scheduled to take place through 2019. David Wechsler, renowned psychologist, is responsible for creating this examination. In 1939, it was initially called the Wechsler Bellevue Intelligence Scale, but it was revised 15 years later and renamed WAIS. Alternate versions of the Wechsler Test exist for children, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Pre-School & Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI).

Wechsler is a Romanian-American psychologist who was born on Jan 12, 1896, in Romania. His family relocated to the states in New York when he was just a boy. He earned a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in 1917. By 1925, his further delve into education earned him a Ph.D.

It was Robert S. Woodworth that first took a chance on the young psychologist. Woodworth was a big shot in the United States Army, and he was overwhelmed by the number of soldiers that were experiencing mental issues after the war. Working alongside Charles Spearman and Karl Pearson, Wechsler was to develop testing to help the army screen new draftees. However, things took a very different turn.

Helping Soldiers from WWI Gave Wechsler His Start

Wechsler dedicated himself to the study of memory loss in soldiers from WWI. His curiosity built a foundation to test the very intelligence of his patients. Studying the brain was a fascinating undertaking, so he expanded his test to include children. He felt the very formation of the intellect could help him resolve the current problems with memory loss.

What he found was mind-blowing. The IQ of a person is directly predisposed to the atmosphere in which they live. Biological and environmental influences can dictate a person’s intellect. Wechsler knew that many factors affected intelligence and cognitive ability, but he also found that persistence had a sizable effect too. He realized that one test would not accommodate all age groups, so he developed a series that would be used for all ages.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale
Test Variations

  • WPPSI – Wechsler Pre-School & Primary Scale of Intelligence – test covers children from 2 years and 6 months to 7 years and 7 months. The WPPSI was introduced in 1967 and originally designed for children between 4 years and 6.5 years old before later revisions expanded that range. The test is currently in its fourth revision as the WPPSI-IV and consists of 14 subtests that are broken up into three scoring indexes: Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale IQ.
  • WISC – Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – test covers children from 6 to 16 years old. This test was introduced as an offshoot of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale and was introduced in 1949. This test is often used to help with educational placement, identifying gifted students, and can also be used in conjunction with the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test to help identify students with learning disabilities or gaps between academic achievement and cognitive abilities. The most recent version of the test is the WISC-V, which was released in 2014.
  • WAIS – Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – test covers teenagers from 16 years of age through adulthood. The current version of the test is the WAIS-IV which was launched in 2008.
The oral WAIS scales contain questions about material based on general knowledge. It also covers:

  • Math
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
  • Identifying Similarities
  • Digital Span
On the performance section of the WAIS, it includes picture successions as well as:

  • Image Arrangements
  • Block Design
  • Digital Symbols
  • Object Assembly

The Wechsler Scale

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale provides four individual index scores for the major components of intelligence:

  • Verbal Comprehension Index
  • Perceptual Reasoning Index
  • Working Memory Index
  • Processing Speed Index

The subtests for each index are compiled to derive two broader intelligence scores – Full Scale IQ and General Ability Index. The Full Scale IQ is comprised of the scores from all four indexes while the General Ability Index includes only the six subtests related to the Verbal Comprehension Index and the Perceptual Reasoning Index. The Wechsler IQ test has 10 core and 5 supplemental subtests divided into separate sections. A score is given for each subtest, and then it is averaged into an overall Full Scale IQ. The table below will help show you how the scores derived from the various subtests is used within the various index scores.

Is Taking an IQ Test Necessary?

Going back to the theories of Dr. Wechsler in 1939, intelligence is used to study many things about a person. In a child, parents and teachers can use a test of this magnitude to determine the child’s mental capabilities. A child whose IQ is above 115 may benefit from taking more advanced classes to help them achieve their potential. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a child whose IQ falls below 80 may need additional support and traditional classrooms may not work well for them. The WISC and WPPSI tests can be beneficial in providing a better understanding of individual children’s abilities and creating an educational roadmap that best suits their abilities.

When it comes to older teenagers and adults, the topic of intelligence can be an enjoyable conversation starter. For some, learning their IQ can bring answers to life-long questions, and for others, it’s fun to simply know where they stand. The WAIS subscales can also be very useful in helping a person to choose a career path. From a higher education standpoint, some colleges are interested in a person’s IQ score more so than their GPA. For those interested in joining high intelligence society like Mensa, the Wechsler test scores can be used to gain admittance if your score falls within the top two percent.

IndexTaskSubtest TypeIndex Scores
Verbal ComprehensionSimilaritiesCoreFSIQ, GAI
VocabularyCoreFSIQ, GAI
InformationCoreFSIQ, GAI
Perceptual ReasoningBlock DesignCoreFSIQ, VCI
Matrix ReasoningCoreFSIQ, VCI
Visual PuzzlesCoreFSIQ, VCI
Picture CompletionSupplementaln/a
Figure WeightsSupplementaln/a
Working MemoryDigit SpanCoreFSIQ
Letter-Number SequencingSupplementaln/a
Processing SpeedSymbol SearchCoreFSIQ

The Popularity of the Wechsler Test

Many countries around the world use this test in an adapted version. The IQ test scale has been adjusted to make it culturally fair. Version four was released in 2008, which is the most recent version in use. Scoring models found that the standard IQ ranges from 85 through 115. Shockingly, nearly 70 percent of the population falls within these categories.

The actual full-scale test is lengthy, and sometimes it is difficult for children and adults to sit through. Thus, an abbreviated version has been developed of late. The scaled down version provides an accurate assessment of intelligence, but it takes less than a half an hour. Some clinicians use the Stanford Binet IQ test, but the Wechsler Test remains the “go to” examination around most of the world.

Individuals that are not linked with a psychologist can still take the test. There are online versions that can suffice. While there are dozens of assessments that can measure one’s intelligence, few have the historical significance and the evolution of this examination.

Dr. Wechsler dedicated his life to the study of the brain, and generations long after are still using his research as a diagnostic tool. He remains just as prevalent in death as he did in life. He passed on May 2, 1981, at the age of 85. He is the 51st most quoted mental health professional of the 20th century.

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