The Wechsler Test of Adult Reading (WTAR) is a neuropsychological exam given to individuals between the ages of 16 and 89 years old to determine their intelligence and memory abilities prior to an injury or illness, such as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. The purpose of the WTAR is to evaluate the decline of cognitive ability in people with brain injury or illness. The results of these tests are used in research, for diagnosis and to create treatment plans for individuals.
This test can be administered during regular evaluations with a trained professional. The test is short, only taking about 10 minutes to complete. It consists of a list of 50 words that have uncommon sound to letter (grapheme-to-phoneme) correspondences and do not follow regular pronunciation rules. Since these are uncommon or irregularly spelled words, the individual must rely on having learned them prior to any decline. The individual reads the words out loud and the total number of words pronounced correctly is scored. The publisher provides the evaluator with recordings of acceptable pronunciations. Each correct pronunciation receives a raw score of 1 point. The raw score is standardized by age and demographics. The individual’s score is then compared to a normative sample, or scores from people of the same age, demographics, and education level, to determine their cognitive status. These cognitive functioning scores help determine the level of cognitive decline as a result of brain injury or illness and can then be used to create appropriate treatment plans for the individuals.
According to Wechsler, reading recognition is a more stable indication of cognitive decline as a result of brain injury or illness than many other intellectual or memory tests. This is because the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading was developed and co-normed with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third edition and the Wechsler Memory Scale-Third edition. This is an advantage because it allows a comparative analysis with shared data sets and is a very effective method for calculating intelligence and memory performance.
Several studies have been done to determine the validity of the WTAR. In individuals with TBI, those with severe TBI performed worse than the healthy controls at the 1-month and the 1-year period after the injury. However, the severe TBI group improved significantly over the 1-year period indicating that the test may underestimate the pre-injury intelligence of these patients shortly after their injury. The patients with moderate or mild TBI performed approximately the same as the healthy control group and scores remained stable in both groups over the 1-year time period. This test is not recommended for individuals with learning disabilities, as it does not have accurate or stable results with this group.