Psychometric Testing for Children
Psychometric testing evaluates the knowledge, skills, ability and personality traits of a person being assessed.
There are 5 categories of tests which can be administered:
- Cognitive tests.
- Educational tests.
- Developmental tests.
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tests.
- Behaviour tests.
You may have heard of psychometric testing in the context of a job application, but it is also commonly used to assess children.
Psychometric assessments are administered to children for a range of reasons discussed below. Given the broad use of these assessments, it can be difficult to know which type/s of test/s are right for your child. Your child’s psychologist will of course help you navigate this, but this guide will provide you with a basic understanding.
Cognitive tests (i.e. IQ tests) measure intellectual ability. They examine your child’s ability to solve problems, their processing speed and their ability to mentally manipulate information.
Results provide a description your child’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses. They also give an overview of your child’s intellectual potential when interpreted alongside other factors (e.g. the outcome of educational assessments).
There are 2 types of tests that can be administered, depending on your child’s age:
- Wechsler Preschool and Primary School Intelligence Test (WPPSI-IV) – administered to children aged 2 years 6 months to 7 years 7 months.
- Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V) – administered to children between the ages of 6 and 16.
These types of assessments are commonly administered to:
- Assess your child for giftedness.
- Diagnose your child with a learning difficulty or disability.
- Assess if your child has intellectual difficulty or an intellectual disability (Vineland is another instrument that our psychologists use to support this type of diagnosis).
Educational assessments are often an essential next step, following cognitive testing.
Tests of Academic Ability
Tests of general academic ability are typically given to children in conjunction with a general intelligence test. They look at your child’s academic skills. More specifically, they examines mathematics, reading, written language and oral skills.
Results of such tests – in addition to general intelligence tests – give a picture of your child’s overall cognitive ability. If there is a big difference between the results of the two tests, there may be an issue and your psychologist will examine this further.
The following test is used to asses academic ability:
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT).
Tests of Specific Cognitive Domains
There are several other types of tests which can be administered to measure a specific cognitive domain, for example:
- visuospatial skills
- motor skills
- executive function skills
- working memory
Educational assessments interpreted alongside cognitive tests help determine if a child:
- Is gifted in a particular learning area.
- Has a learning difficulty/disability is a specific area (e.g. reading or writing).
The results of educational assessments will assist teachers, in addition to parents/caregivers. Understanding a child’s individual learning needs helps to reveal their learning style. This is key when implementing adjustments in the classroom – e.g. extension activities, acceleration subject or special provisions during exams etc. Such adjustments can vastly improve a child’s wellbeing, specifically in terms of their self-esteem.
Developmental assessments can uncover your child’s main strengths and challenges in a range of developmental domains – e.g. cognitive, social, emotional, language, physical development and adaptive behaviours. Psychologists will often recommend these types of assessments if there are concerns regarding your child’s ability to meet developmental milestones.
The following developmental assessment tool/instrument is commonly used:
- Vineland Adaptive Behavioural Scale (VABS): This measures adaptive behaviour and is the leading instrument for supporting the diagnosis of intellectual and developmental disabilities (e.g. autism).
These assessments are often performed alongside caregiver interviews to provide more comprehensive results.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessments
Autism spectrum disorder psychometric assessments are highly specialised. They are used to provide diagnosis and develop individualised treatment plans for children with ASD. Early formal diagnosis is very important for your child’s wellbeing and also enables you to apply for access government funding entitlements and community services (e.g. NDIS) as soon as possible.
Child psychologists at our practices are equipped with the following complementary standardised tools:
Behavioural assessments examine whether a child’s challenging behaviour (e.g. hyperactivity, aggression, impulsivity etc.) is age-appropriate. They are typically administered alongside several interviews with caregivers/parents/teachers (e.g. ABAS-3 is a questionnaire given to caregivers covering three domains – conceptual, practical and social). This will provide you with more accurate results because a child behavioural psychologist can then evaluate your child’s behaviour in context.
Behavioural psychometric assessments are most often used to diagnose the following mental health disorders:
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Oppositional defiance disorder (ODD).
- Conduct disorder (CD).
Psychological assessment and diagnosis is crucial. From here, your child’s psychologist can follow-up with you to develop an effective treatment plan that is individualised.
The best way to help your child with any issues they may be experiencing is to understand their specific needs.
Psychometric testing is one of the most effective ways to do this and will allow the psychologist to help your child reach their full potential.
Hopefully this guide has helped you understand the purpose of any testing recommended by your child’s psychologist and will allow you to better support your child.