Blog home

What to Expect With Your Child’s First IQ Test – Part Two

What to Expect With Your Child’s First IQ Test – Part Two

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - September 7th, 2018

A Child’s Perspective

Secret Scoop on IQ Testing

Parents are always asking me what these “intelligence tests” really involve and what happens behind those closed doors.  And, I always like to share the little story I learned from a parent whose son failed miserably on the kindergarten admissions test.  Why do I share this particular story, you wonder?  Well, it’s a classic, yet tragic, tale of a child’s perspective during the test.  When asked what happened during the test, this child, we will call “Adam,” matter-of-factly stated that the examiner had “scary eyes and smelled like belly button.” As a result, he rushed through everything in an attempt to get out of that room and his scores reflected that!   So, if you too have ever wondered about this somewhat enigmatic testing topic, keep reading, because I’m here to shed some light on it!

History of IQ Testing

Ever since the first IQ test was created in 1905, it was designed to measure the kind of intelligence a child needs to succeed in an academic setting, which depends on language, knowledge, memory, mathematics, spatial, motor skills, cognitive abilities and speed of thinking…..whoa, I’m tired just typing all of that….imagine what the kids endure while being tested!

With that said, the two most commonly given IQ tests are the Stanford-Binet and the Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-III (WPPSI).  The Stanford-Binet can be administered to children ages two to adulthood, and the WPPSI can be given to children ages two through seven.  It’s interesting to note that, unlike the SAT, questions on these IQ tests do not change from year to year.  In fact, the Stanford-Binet has only been changed five times since 1905, and the WPPSI has changed a mere two times since 1967.

Pick the Proctor that is Right for Your Child

So, what goes on behind these closed-door tests?  Well, for starters, a psychologist administers the IQ test one-on-one in a session that takes about an hour.   It’s good to point out that some test administrators are better than others in respect to developing rapport with your child and making your child feel at ease (as illustrated per the example earlier of the “scary eyes,”).  This is why it’s important to conduct your own parental homework by asking your school or friends for examiner recommendations (if you’re allowed to choose your own tester).  Then, if you deem this examiner isn’t someone your child will relate to or potentially listen to, then by all means, schedule with another one!

Prior to the Test

Moreover, here are some things to consider prior to the test:

  • Health and rest: Ensure that your child is well rested and feels well prior to the test. If your child gets ill several days before the test, try to reschedule, as his/her results could prove atypical.
  • Timely scheduling: Avoid scheduling the test after a long day of school. Also, do not take your child out of school for testing, because if your child has to miss something from school, it could be upsetting and potentially create an uncooperative stance during the test.
  • Separation anxiety: If your child suffers from separation anxiety, it is imperative that you work on this issue prior to the testing or have a caretaker or spouse attend with your child instead. Moreover, ensure your child that they will wait for them outside of the testing room so that your child will be more cool, calm and collected.
  • Reward: If your child seems reluctant to going into the test, promise to take him for something he deems special after the test. However, don’t make the treat too extraordinary, or your child might rush through the test absentmindedly to obtain said reward!

Once you’ve made it to the testing facility, remember to take some books and games with you in case you have to wait.  Although the testing room is quite welcoming to a child, the waiting areas can sometimes be similar to a doctor’s waiting area, and we don’t want your child to think he’s there to receive an icky shot!  Also, the examiner might want to observe your child in this setting…..something to keep in mind.

How to Frame the Time

So, how do you breach the topic of testing with your child so that there’s no added stigma involved?  Well, for starters, don’t use the word “test.”  Instead, describe it as a “meeting with a special teacher who wants to discover just how smart four year olds are!”  Then, explain to your child how he/she should do his/her best.  Your child will want to do a good job as a result.  But, don’t say that it will involve games, as then your child might not take it as seriously, thereby giving less than his/her all.  Explain that it WILL be fun though, with lots to do with puzzles, pencils, paper and blocks!

Once your child is safely in the testing room, it’s now officially out of your hands (which can sometimes cause worry and panic), so bring something to keep yourself occupied with as well!

Next, the tester will give standard instructions before each task (and are not allowed to repeat the instructions unfortunately) and may demonstrate an example. Then, each task is timed and scored the same way.

From Floor to Ceiling

For your knowledge, the tests are made up of a series of subtests in each category.  For instance, the verbal assessment might include information, vocabulary and word reasoning.  The examiner will then start with questions slightly below your child’s abilities, known as the “floor,” and will subsequently stop after your child misses a few questions in a row to ensure he has reached his highest ability, known as the “ceiling.”  However, the tester will never reveal if your child is right or wrong in his responses, but instead will respond with a “good job” or an “I see you’re trying hard” sort of reply.

What to Expect from the Process

Once the test is scored, the examiner will also write a narrative report about the qualities he/she observed in your child during the test, which provides a glimpse into his/her social-emotional development, as well as his/her work process.  Here are some things the examiner might note:

  • How well did the child separate from the parent?
  • How did the child treat the parent….respectfully, rudely, clingy, etc.?
  • Did the child make eye contact while communicating?
  • How comfortable was the child with the tester, i.e., talkative, anxious, hyperactive, too quick to attach, etc.?
  • Was the child confident in her abilities, enthusiastic or disinterested?
  • What was the child’s temperament? Cautious? Cooperative?  Friendly?
  • Did the child prefer easy or hard tasks?
  • Did they require constant praise or minimal encouragement?
  • Was the child absorbed or distracted? Persistent or gave up easily?
  • How did the child respond to success and/or failure?
  • What was her problem-solving strategy? Impulsive or reflective?

Now, with all of this newfound information, I realize that your head is probably swimming with potential testing concerns for your child and you’re feeling overwhelmed.  So, what should you do to ensure that your child is ready for this high-stakes test?  Without a doubt, if you haven’t already, you should be working with your child daily on skill building.  But, how’s a parent to know which topics to cover and what skills are necessary for their child to have mastered by the time the test arrives?  Well, that’s why parents everywhere partner with because, as a parent, I had to learn how to maneuver the testing process solo – there was no map nor manual on how to master this testing mystery…..I had to create my own path.  As a result, I created our interactive and informative website to share my wealth of knowledge with parents, so that they don’t have to map it out alone.

Share this article

Tell us about your experiences

Need help? - Contact Support