How to Prepare for Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) Test?

The WISC test is one of the most frequently used IQ tests. It can be given to children from 6 to 16 years of age for different education-related purposes. Depending on the child’s age, the complexity of the test changes.

The best way to help your child to lower stress before taking the test is to help them understand everything about the WISC test. You can also get WISC practice materials to boost their current IQ abilities.

Take the WISC Practice Test to improve your score.

To help you in the process, we’ve created this guide where we will explain everything about the WISC test, WiSC indexes, WISC formats, and WISC scoring. Furthermore, we will provide examples of every sub-test, and we will recommend you the best online library for preparation materials. 

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What Is the WISC Test?

WISC logo

The WISC abbreviation stands for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. 

David Wechsler invented it in 1949 as a newer adaptation of an earlier intelligence test called the Weschler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. 

The newest version of the WISC test is called the WISC-V, which came out in 2014. WISC-V contains five primary indexes, i.e., tested abilities. Further in this article, we will carefully explain each of the five batteries on the WISC-V. 

The WISC can be given to children from 6 to 16 years of age as an IQ test. It measures children’s intellectual capabilities, determines their strengths and weaknesses concerning logical reasoning, and can also be used to discover learning disabilities. 

The test can be administered in a pen and paper format or online.

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How Long Is the WISC Test?

The WISC-V test can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to complete, and the pace mostly depends on the number of sub-tests given since it works as a battery. 

A battery-like assessment allows professionals to choose the parts of the test they want to administer without worrying that the testing results will be partial or fragmented. 

What Is the WISC Test Used For?

The WISC test can be used for numerous purposes, including:

  • Identifying the child’s IQ 
  • Identifying giftedness
  • Identifying intellectual disabilities
  • Identifying specific learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dyspraxia
  • Identifying individuals for specialized programs
  • Identifying individuals for acceleration programs
  • Private school admissions

The testing process, as well as the test analysis and reports, are conducted by experienced clinicians, psychologists, or other social service specialists. 

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Is WISC-V an IQ Test?

The WISC-V is an IQ test at its base but can also be used as part of admission processes, clinical diagnoses, or specialized school programs. 

What Is on the WISC Test?

The WISC test contains five different sub-tests:

  1. Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI)
  2. Visual Spatial Index (VSI)
  3. Working Memory Index (WMI)
  4. Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI)
  5. Processing Speed Index (PSI)

Each of them has an individual primary index score, which is added to make subsequent, more complex scores.

The sum of all subtests, with all their sub-categories, comprises sixteen subtests. The test proctors, depending on needs, might give all batteries, just a few of them, or only certain sub-categories from individual subtests. 

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1. Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI)

The Verbal Comprehension Index or subtest examines the child’s ability to reason with the help of words. Verbal reasoning comprises the ability to communicate concepts, think about verbal info, and express oneself through words. 

The Verbal Comprehension Index on the WISC has four sub-categories:

  • Similarities 

In this Verbal sub-category, the child needs to describe how two words or terms are connected or similar to each other. The score given for a question like this varies based on how closely the relationship is described. 

For example, the words given might be “apple” and “pear.” The similarity is that they are both fruits (3 points), trees (2 points), or foods (1 point.)

  • Vocabulary 

In this category of the Verbal Index, children need to define the meaning of a word. The score can be from 0 to 2 points, based on how much understanding the answer shows. 

For example, the word “bus” can be defined as a “vehicle for a group of people” (2 points), “something I come to school with” (1 point), or “yellow” (0 points). 

  • Information

In this Verbal sub-category, students need to answer some questions regarding general, basic knowledge. It will assess their ability to understand and remember basic information obtained in and outside of school. Some questions might be harder, but they would be something the child should know by their age. 

Questions like “What date is independence day celebrated in the United States of America?” can be encountered on the WISC Verbal Index Information. 

  • Comprehension

In the last Verbal sub-category, students need to answer some questions connected to common concepts, social situations, customs, or common logic. The score can vary between 0 and 2 points, depending on how closely the answer explains the situation. 

An example of these types of questions would be: What does the proverb “A bird on the hand is worth two in the bush?” The student’s answers might be: ”It means that what you have is more valuable than what you could potentially get.” (2 points); “It means that having one bird in your hands is better than having two birds in front of you” (1 point); or “It means that there are three birds” (0 points).

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2. Visual Spatial Index (VSI)

Perceptual reasoning or Visual Spatial Index measures the child’s ability to think through non-verbal processes, i.e., using visual and spatial (orientational) abilities where language is not needed. It mainly revolves around visual 3D models and geometric designs with visual-spatial coordination and reasoning, integration of parts into a whole, attention to detail, hand-eye coordination, and speed in processing visual information.

The two sub-categories in the Visual-Spatial index are:

  • Block Design

In the Block Design sub-test, students must organize wooden or plastic 3D blocks according to a given model. There are nine blocks whose sides have different designs in red and white color. It’s the child’s job to recreate the given picture model by manipulating the blocks and placing them in the right place with the right color design.

The task is time restricted. The more seconds it takes to finish the reconstruction of the given model, the fewer points are given. If the child finishes the design faster than given, they can earn extra points. 

  • Visual Puzzles

In Visual Puzzles, kids need to use two to four puzzle pieces to reconstruct a given shape. From the set of pieces, they need to find the right ones and reconstruct the given shape. If done through computer software, students must select the two to four pieces that will make the shape when given six or more options. 

This test also has a set time limit in which they need to finish the figure. 

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3. Working Memory Index (WMI)

The Working Memory Index measures the child’s ability to register, remember, and manipulate visual or auditive information. That translates as attention, concentration, and thinking, all connected to the ability to learn and achieve. 

These are the sub-categories of the Working Memory Index:

  • Digit Span

In the Digit Span sub-category, students need to repeat a number sequence in the same order they’ve heard it or in reverse. The sequence length can vary and starts with three digits and might have up to 9 digits. 

  • Picture Span

Similar to the Digit Span, in the Picture span, students need to recreate a sequence of images in the same order they saw them in the stimulus book of the WISC. 

  • Letter and Number Sequencing

The last sub-category of the Working Memory Index is the Letter and Number Sequencing, in which students are asked to rearrange a series of numbers and letters in numerical and alphabetical order. The sequence they get will have mixed numbers and letters, and it’s their job to start from the numbers (smallest to biggest) and then move to letters in alphabetical order. 

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4. Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI)

The Fluid Reasoning Index is the fourth of the five indexes. In it, students need to show their abilities for inductive and quantitative reasoning i.e., to apply known rules or logical reasoning while solving presented visual or audio problems.

This sub-test of the WISC basically measures the child’s ability to identify connections and relationships between two objects to show visual intelligence, abstract thinking, and fast mental processing. 

These are the sub-categories that make up the Fluid Reasoning Index:

  • Matrix Reasoning

In this sub-category, children need to include a picture following the same logic as the example. This section is not timed, and the student can take their time in determining the right picture that belongs to the given set. 

For example, the given set of pictures might consist of an umbrella and rain. The next pair will have sunscreen and an empty slot. The given options might all be weather phenomena, but only sun corresponds with sunscreen. 

  • Figure Weights

In the Figure weights sub-test, students need to balance a picture of a scale by using the same logic as the set provided. They basically need to put the same weight on the second by using what they’ve learned from the example. This sub-category of the WISC test is measured. 

For example, the first sample scale might include two circles and one triangle on the left and two squares and one triangle on the right. If the second scale displays only two squares on the left, children need to use visual perception and reasoning to conclude that two circles weigh the same as two squares (as shown on the sample) and choose two circles as an answer. 

  • Picture Concepts 

In the picture Concepts sub-category of the Fluid Reasoning Index, children need to determine which two or three pictures have something in common. The test is not time restricted, so the student has the time to look through the set of images.

The Picture Concepts sub-category will have two rows with two pictures on each row. It’s the child’s job to find which two images go together i.e. have something in common. 

For example, the first row might display a duck and a frog, while the other set might display a cow and an owl. The underlying concept here is that the duck and the owl are similar – both are birds, both have wings and beaks. 

Gradually, the picture concepts will become harder, displaying three pictures in three rows. In these concepts, children need to find a total of three objects that are from the same group, each of them being in a different row. 

  • Arithmetics

In Arithmetics, the child will be asked to orally solve some elementary math problems with the help of basic math operations. For smaller children, the questions might come in the form of pictures. 

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5. Processing Speed Index (PSI)

The Processing Speed Index, as the name suggests, measures the child’s speed and accuracy in visual identification, making a decision, and implementing the decision. Naturally, all these tests are time restricted. 

The point of this sub-test of the WICS test is to determine the student’s ability to perceive, discriminate, and memorize information, coordinate their eye-hand movements, and concentrate.

These are the sub-categories of the Processing Speed Index:

  • Coding

Children will be given a key or set of numbers, shapes, and symbols in Coding. Then, they will have 120 seconds to re-write the same set key on a blank table. This will measure their speed and accuracy when re-writing something. 

  • Symbol Search

In this second sub-category of the Processing Speed Index, students will get one target symbols they need to identify in long rows of symbols. It’s the students’ job to scan through the rows and determine whether the given target symbol appears in each row. 

  • Cancellation

In this sub-category, children need to scan through a page of randomly thrown pictures and find the designated, targeted pictures and mark them. The target pictures might appear more than once on the page, and children need to select all of the pictures. This sub-category has a two-minute time frame. 

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WISC Test Formats

The WISC test can come in multiple formats. As we mentioned, each WISC sub-test can be given entirely or not at all. Furthermore, only some sub-categories can be asked i.e., only the Coding sub-category of the Processing Speed Index.

Different combinations of the full test are named WICS Formats. 

These are some of the most used WICS Formats:

  • The Full-Scale test format includes the WICS test in its entirety – the five sub-tests and all their sixteen sub-categories. 
  • The Primary Index Scales are each of the five Sub-tests or Indexes ( Verbal Comprehension, Visual-Spatial, Working Memory, Fluid Reasoning, and Processing Speed) on their own. 
  • The Ancillary Index Scales give details of the child’s cognitive abilities and learning processes. These scales can measure Quantitative reasoning, Auditory Working Memory, Nonverbal IQ, General Abilities, and Cognitive Proficiency. This format comes from combining different sub-tests (Indexes) with some of their sub-categories. For example, to measure Nonverbal IQ, all sub-categories that don’t require language are used (Block design, Visual Puzzles, Matrixes, Figure Weight, Picture Span, and Coding.)
  • The Complementary Index Scales are done to identify any possible specific learning disabilities. 

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WISC Scores

Most of the time, all five Primary scale subtests or the seven Primary-Full scale IQ sub-tests are assigned. The WICS Primary Index Scale Score is calculated for each of the five Indexes, thus containing five different scores.

Only seven sub-categories of the total sixteen comprise the Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient or IQ:

  • Similarities (from the Verbal Comprehension Index)
  • Vocabulary (from the Verbal Comprehension Index)
  • Block Design (from the Visual Spatial Index)
  • Matrix Reasoning (from the Fluid Reasoning Index)
  • Figure Weights (from the Fluid Reasoning Index)
  • Digit Span (from the Working Memory Index)
  • Coding (from the Processing Speed Index)

The different WISC Formats further allow freedom for scoring different sets of abilities. 

What Is a Good WISC Score?

The WISC scores are numerical, and the bigger the value, the better the child’s ability in that Index. In a full WISC report, the five Indexes can tell about their abilities in each section. 

The WISC test is most frequently used to give a Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (IQ). 

This is the interpretation of IQ values:

  • 0-20 – Profound Mental Retardation
  • 20-34 – Severe Mental Retardation
  • 35-49 – Moderate Mental Retardation
  • 50-69 – Mild Mental Retardation
  • 70-79 – Borderline Mental Retardation
  • 80-89 – Below Average Intelligence
  • 90-114 – Average Intelligence
  • 115-129 – Above Average Intelligence
  • 130-144 – Moderately Gifted Child
  • 145-159 – Highly Gifted Child
  • 160-175 – Exceptionally Gifted Child
  • Above 176 -Profoundly Gifted Child

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Can You Practice for the WISC Test?

The WISC test is harder to study since it doesn’t have concrete knowledge your child should possess to pass it. The test measures the abilities that your child spontaneously gained throughout their life. With an IQ quotient as a final score, the WISC test assesses children’s existing skills and strengths/weaknesses. 

The results are not definitive and are used only for understanding potential. If any problems are detected, further research and diagnosing are needed. When six or seven years old children take the WISC test, they are likely to get scared or nervous.

They could answer wrong only because they cannot regulate their emotions. They might see the test as a game or have difficulty concentrating, responding, and listening. 

Practicing for the WISC test is not impossible, though. Familiarizing young kids with testing processes and explaining their role during testing is a great start. 

If you want to prepare your child before taking the WISC test, or if you wish to deepen their intellectual skills overall, we recommend using the help of TestPrep-Online. They are the biggest and most complete online library for practice materials for all kinds of tests.

They offer one-year-long access to their testing materials and some useful guides to help you ease your child’s learning and practicing process.

What Does Testprep-Online Offer?

TestPrep-Online doesn’t currently offer exclusive WISC test preparation materials. But, they have an extensive library for other tests, similar to the WISC test in terms of question structure and tested abilities. 

These are the practice bundles you can currently get at TestPrep-Online:

With the help of any of these practice materials, you can exercise your child’s abilities and IQ quotient. 

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The WISC test is one of the most used IQ tests for children from 6 to 16 years of age. The test comprises five Indexes and 16 sub-categories that measure different reasoning aspects or abilities. 

The WISC test is usually used for testing children’s IQ during application processes, acceleration or special needs programs, or to identify and diagnose specific intellectual or learning disabilities. 

Even though there are no practice tests for the WISC, you can use numerous different practice materials at TestPrep-Online to boost your child’s IQ. 

​​Written by Victoria Todorovska

Victoria (or Viki) is a Freelance Writer, Psychologist, and Gestalt Therapy Consultant. With years of experience in higher education as well as counselling others, she is well-placed to offer expert advice on guiding others up the career ladder. 

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