Demystifying Admissions Testing

Cognitive tests are often requirements for applying to independent schools, and they can be a source of stress for parents and children alike. Parents often wonder what goes into the tests and how they are scored. Here is some information to shed some light on the process and reduce stress.

The Basics

Children 5 years and younger typically take the WPPSI-IV (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence). It usually lasts around 45 minutes and consists of multiple activities that measure different aspects of cognitive functioning.

Children 6 years and older take the WISC-V (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). It usually lasts from 60-90 minutes and consists of multiple activities that measure different aspects of cognitive functioning.

With both measures, the evaluator will be working individually with your child. Children, especially younger ones, typically enjoy the process. The activities are designed to be interesting and engaging to children, such as looking at pictures and working with blocks. The evaluator will focus on helping your child feel comfortable and at ease so that he or she is able to perform his or her best.

Your child will be asked to do activities with a difficulty level that is appropriate to his or her age. That is, 3-year-olds taking the WPPSI-IV will complete different tasks and items than 5-year-olds will. Your child’s performance will be compared to other children his or her age.

Preparing for Testing

No formal preparation is needed; in fact this will invalidate the test results. All you need to do to prepare is to tell your child that he or she will be going to an office to meet a new person (you can use first names) and do some activities, such as looking at pictures and working with blocks.

The night before the assessment, make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep. The morning of the appointment, do your usual morning routine and make sure your child eats a healthy breakfast. If your child is ill, reschedule the appointment.

Understanding the Report

After the appointment, the evaluator will score the results and provide you with a report that lists scores for overall cognitive functioning, as well as specific domains of cognitive abilities, such as verbal abilities, memory, and reasoning.

Your child’s performance will be compared to other children his or her age. Results will be reported in terms of standard scores and percentile ranks. For example, receiving a score at the 50th percentile indicates that a child performed better than 50% of other children his age.  The report will list and describe your child’s scores and explain what they mean in terms of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.

We are more than happy to answer any questions about the report or provide additional feedback on a child’s performance.

Finally, keep in mind that admissions testing is only one part of the application process, and the results will not solely determine whether or not your child is accepted to a specific school.

If you are interested in scheduling an admissions test or have further follow-up questions, contact us at 301-652-5550.