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WAIS-IV intelligence test (Wechsler Scale in Adults)

WAIS-IV intelligence test (Wechsler Scale in Adults)

November 7, 2022

The different versions of the Wechsler Scale of Intelligence for Adults have dominated the field of cognitive evaluation in people over 16 years since the 1950s and have contributed in a decisive way in the conception of intelligence in the field of psychology and in society in general.

In this article we will analyze the main scales and tests of the WAIS intelligence test . We will focus in particular on the latest version, the WAIS-IV scale, although we will start by reviewing the history of this method of assessing cognitive abilities.

  • Related article: "Types of intelligence tests"

The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Adults (WAIS)

David Wechsler (1896-1981) was an American psychologist who trained with Karl Pearson and Charles Spearman, pioneers of psychometrics. In 1955 he published the first version of the test that we know as "Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Adults", commonly called "WAIS" by its acronym in the original English.


Previously, in 1939, this author had contributed to the creation of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale, which can be considered a direct precursor of what would be Wechsler's definitive work. Both tests they conceived intelligence as a set of interrelated elements that could be measured independently.

In 1981 a revised version of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-R) appeared. Subsequently, in the year 1997, the WAIS-III was launched; This new test contained updated scales applicable to many types of population and distinguished between the verbal and manipulative intellectual quotient, in addition to the total, which was obtained by combining the two previous ones.


The most recent version of the Wechsler test is the WAIS-IV , which was published in 2008. In this the verbal and manipulative ratios are replaced by four more specific indices (verbal comprehension, perceptive reasoning, working memory and processing speed) and a General Capacity Index is added that is used in the field clinical.

Since the first WAIS, these tests have focused on evaluating people over 16 years of age. There are also the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Preschool and Primary (WPPSI). Currently the WISC is in its fifth version and the WPPSI in the fourth, and work is underway in the fifth WAIS.

  • Related article: "The WISC-V intelligence test: changes and novelties"

Scales and main tests of the WAIS-IV test

Wechsler's intelligence tests measure different capacities using specific tests. Some of the most characteristic are Search for symbols, which consists of identifying visual elements as quickly as possible, Matrices, similar to intelligence tests such as Raven, or Information, which evaluates general knowledge.


Each of these tests weighs in a broader index. In the WAIS-III, the verbal comprehension and work memory indices were part of the verbal IQ, while the perceptive organization and processing speed were part of the manipulative IQ; However, in the WAIS-IV we only find these indices together with the total CI , that combines them.

1. Verbal comprehension

The verbal comprehension index reflects the aptitude of a given individual to understand and use verbal language, in addition to the reasoning abilities associated with this type of material. It is also a good indicator of the quantity and quality of the knowledge acquired , and also of the recovery of long-term memories.

The main tests of the verbal comprehension index are the Similarity, the Vocabulary and the Information. On the other hand, the Comprehension test can be used as a complementary factor in the calculation of this index.

2. Perceptive reasoning

The terminology "Perceptual Reasoning" replaced that of "Perceptual Organization" in the passage from the third WAIS to the fourth. This factor measures the ability of the person evaluated to interpret, organize and think correctly using visual information ; therefore, it is related to fluid reasoning and perception rather than verbal.

The classic tests that make up this index are Design with cubes (create figures seen in images using cubes), Matrices and Incomplete Figures. It also includes two new tests: Visual Puzzles and Figurative Weight. The first is central to the calculation of the Perceptual Reasoning index, while the Figurative Weight is a complementary subtest.

3. Work memory

The Work Memory index evaluates the ability to apprehend and retain information in the short term , as well as to carry out cognitive operations on this. It consists of two basic tests: Arithmetic and Retention of digits. It also includes the complementary test Succession of numbers and letters.

  • Related article: "Work (operational) memory: components and functions"

4. Processing speed

Processing speed is a measure of the individual skills for process visual information quickly and efficiently . The results in the tests that make up this index also serve as a secondary indicator of motor speed.

The two main tests that weighted in this index are Search for symbols and Keys. Cancellation, which is the only new test in the WAIS-IV along with visual puzzles and figurative weight, serves as a supplementary factor.

  • Perhaps it interests you: "Is the Intellectual Quotient the same as intelligence?"
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