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The WISC-V intelligence test: changes and novelties

The WISC-V intelligence test: changes and novelties

June 12, 2024

An approximate decade has elapsed since the previous version of the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV), adapted in Spain in 2005, until the publication of the new version, the WISC-V. Between both tests can be observed several changes in the scales which make up each of the tests.

These scales currently provide a higher level of reliability and validity of the theoretical construct «intelligence», which have been obtained from the most recent scientific findings on the fields of intelligence, neurodevelopment and learning processes.

In the text published by the General Council of the COP of Spain, an increase in the psychometric indexes is confirmed on: Theoretical Basis, Analysis of the Items, different types of Validity (content and internal structure) and various types of Reliability (stability, consistency internal). Thus, most of these scores on these methodological characteristics are located in the category of Exelente.

Below we will see a detailed description of the essential aspects on the main tests that make up the current WISC-V .

  • Related article: "Types of intelligence tests"

Characteristics of the WISC-V

The WISC V is a clinical test of individual application intended for evaluation of the intellectual aptitudes of individuals between 6 and 16 years 11 months

The results obtained in each of the contained scales result in five specific scores, the Global Indices and a general score that indicates the total Intellectual Coefficient of the evaluated (CI) . The statistical expression of the CI score starts from the normal type distribution of the intelligence variable, which establishes that the population mean is in the value 100 and that it has a standard deviation of +/- 15 points.

Thus, 68% of the population is between the 85 and 115 values ​​and only 2% is at the extremes (scores below 70 or above 130). Below 85, it is understood that the individual has a general intellectual capacity significantly lower than the average. The same happens for figures higher than 115, although in the opposite direction (greater intellectual capacity).

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News in indexes, factors and scales

As a novelty with respect to its predecessor, components have been reformulated and added to some of the five primary indexes. Thus, the WISC-IV consisted of indices: verbal comprehension, perceptive reasoning, working memory and processing speed. On the other hand, WISC-V includes verbal comprehension, fluid reasoning, visuospatial capacity, working memory and processing speed. So, the previous primary factor «perceptual reasoning» has been divided in the current "fluid reasoning" and "visuospatial capacity", expanding the specificity of the skills included in each of them.

On the other hand, the following secondary factors can also be obtained: quantitative reasoning (measures accuracy of academic achievement in reading and mathematics), auditory work memory (memory skills and inhibition of proactive interference) and nonverbal (intellectual aptitude in tests without content verbal), general ability (intellectual ability less related to working memory and processing speed than total IQ) and cognitive competence (efficiency in information processing).

More concretely the WISC-V has fifteen scales , which are detailed below:

Cubes Reproduction with cube-shaped pieces of two-color models presented on cards and with a certain time limit.
Similarities Description of the conceptual elements that present two words read by the examiner.
Matrices Selection among several options of the element that completes each one of the matrices presented.
Digits Repetition of a series of numbers that the examiner indicates following three different criteria: repetition in the same order, repetition in reverse order and repetition in numerical order from least to greatest.
Keys Copy of symbols assigned to the numbers between 1 and 9 in a given time.
vocabulary Graphic identification and verbal definition of the elements indicated by the examiner.
Balances* Selection among different options of the answer that balances the weight in the balance shown, in a specific time.
Visual puzzles * Selection of the elements that make up the puzzle presented within a limited time.
Span of drawings * Identification of the elements presented in order of appearance, in the first presentation, in a subsequent series where more elements appear interspersed.
Search of symbols Identification of one of the two model symbols in a larger set of elements, with a time limit.
information Evaluation of general knowledge based on questions of a different nature.
Letters and numbers Ordination of the elements (letters and numbers) indicated by the examiner, in ascending and alphabetical order respectively.
Cancellation* Search for elements in a set of stimuli presented in a structured or random way in a determined time.
Understanding Answer questions made by the examiner about social norms and rules.
Arithmetic Mental resolution of arithmetic problems in a time limit.

The Global Indices

The fifteen tests indicated are classified into two different subtypes (main and optional) depending on whether they should be accounted for the final count of the value of the total Intellectual Coefficient. Thus, the scales that add up for this calculation become: Cubes, Similarities, Matrices, Digits, Keys, Vocabulary and Balances. * Tests of new incorporation in the WISC-V version.

As indicated above, the list of the fifteen tasks specified above consists of five indices, which consist of the evaluation of the following capabilities :

1. Verbal Comprehension

Evaluates skills in the formation of verbal concepts, the expression of relationships between concepts, richness and precision in the definition of words, understanding of social conventions and knowledge linked to culture. It consists of the scales Similarities, Vocabulary, Information and Understanding .

2. Fluid Reasoning

It corresponds with a measure of logical-deductive reasoning and the identification of abstract visual patterns and the capacity for simultaneous processing through visual analogies. It consists of the measurements of Balances, Matrices and Arithmetic.

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3. Visospatial capacity

Determine the level of reasoning from stimuli and abstract non-verbal conceptual information , visual analysis, as well as practical constructive capacity and perceptive organization. The scales of Cubes and Visual Puzzles are included.

4. Work Memory

It is a measure of information storage and retention capacity , as well as the ability to mentally operate with said information, transform and generate a new result with it. Digits, Letters and Numbers and Span of Drawings are included in this index.

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5. Processing Speed

Analyze the fitness in the focus of attention and in the exploration, ordering, discrimination of visual information presented quickly and effectively. It consists of the Keys, Symbols Search and Cancellation scales.

Areas and purposes of application

The WISC-V test has been designed for purposes included in both clinical and neuropsychological areas of application, educational psychology, forensic psychology or in the field of social services.

Within the different aspects between the main objectives of this test, it becomes the determination of the cognitive capacity or the neuropsychological functioning both in the establishment and in the rejection of the existence of: Developmental Disorders (such as, for example, Autistic Spectrum Disorders or Intellectual Disability Disorders), the presence of High Capabilities; Specific Learning Disorders, neuropsychological dysfunctions such as dementias, Attention Deficit Disorders or also the determination of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in the school collective.

Bibliographic references:

  • General Council of Psychology of Spain: //
  • Hernández, A., Aguilar C., Paradell, E. and Valla, F. (2015) Review of the Spanish Adaptation of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - V. Ed: Pearson Education.

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