Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing assists clinicians in evaluating a patient’s learning, social, behavioral, and personality development. Testing results can help with recognition of specific disorders and guide planning for educational and mental health interventions. Following appropriate clinical evaluation, formal psychometric testing may be indicated for school underachievement, educational planning, and vocational planning or evaluation of suspected intellectual disability, autism, ADHD, or a learning or mood disorder.
Psychometric testing is usually performed by a trained psychologist or related provider (e.g., neuropsychologists, supervised intern) in an educational, private, or state-sponsored setting. The type of testing used depends on the question that needs answering. A request/referral for testing should include the clinician’s assessment of the functional deficit and the question(s) to be answered. A suggestion that a specific test be used may be appropriate if required (e.g., by a school setting) or the referring clinician is familiar with the options.

Intelligence/Developmental Tests

Intelligence (IQ) tests and developmental tests examine cognitive ability. Intelligence tests look at the overall capacity of the child and typically serve as a baseline for which other testing can be compared; other psychometric testing would be expected to score in the same range. If discrepancies exist between intelligence tests and other forms of testing, this may illustrate an individual’s areas of weakness and could possibly be important in a diagnostic context. Intelligence tests do not measure all areas of intelligence but are predictive of academic functioning. Intelligence tests include the following:
  • Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III) – The Bayley-III contains motor, cognitive, behavior, social-emotional, and adaptive subscales. The most commonly given subscales are the cognitive, language, and motor subscales. The Bayley-III can also be used with older children (up to 42 months) who have severe delays. The cognitive subscale of the Bayley-III is not meant to be a solid indicator of IQ, although it has a correlation with later intelligence scores.
    • Age Range: 1 month–42 months
    • Completion Time: 30–90 minutes (depending upon age and developmental level of child)

  • Differential Ability Scales, Second Edition (DAS-II) – The DAS-II is an individually administered assessment of cognitive abilities that are closely tied to learning. The individual subtests can be relatively quick to administer. The DAS-II correlates well with other intelligence tests.
    • Age Range: 2 years, 6 months–17 years, 11 months
    • Completion Time: 45–60 minutes (core battery); 30 minutes (diagnostic subtests)

  • Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, Fourth Edition (WPPSI-IV) – The WPPSI-IV is used with younger children. The full-scale score is comprised of verbal comprehension, visual spatial, and working memory index scores for children 2–3 years old; verbal comprehension, visual spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed index scores for children 4–7 years old.
    • Age Range: 2 years, 6 months–7 years, 7 months
    • Completion Time: 30–60 minutes (depending upon age of child)

  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fifth Edition (WISC-V) – The WISC-V full-scale IQ score is comprised of the following index scores: verbal comprehension, visual spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.
    • Age Range: 6–16 years
    • Completion Time: 60 minutes

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) – The WAIS-IV full-scale IQ score is comprised of the following index scores: verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.
    • Age Range: 16 years–adulthood
    • Completion Time: 60–90 minutes for core subtests

  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fifth Edition (SB5) - The SB5 has a scoring system similar to that of the Wechsler Tests and a "lower floor," improving the clinician's ability to assess individuals who may be lower functioning. There are five factors of cognitive ability examined by the SB5: fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, and working memory.
    • Ages: 2 years–adulthood
    • Completion Time: 5 minutes per subtest

  • Leiter International Performance Scale, Third Edition (Leiter-3) – The Leiter-3 is a nonverbal test of cognitive, attentional, and neuropsychological abilities. It is helpful in assessing individuals with communication and other developmental delays.
    • Ages: 3 years–adulthood
    • Completion Time: 20–45 minutes

  • NEPSY, Second Edition (NEPSY-II) – The NEPSY-II is a developmental neuropsychological assessment. It provides a comprehensive picture of a child's neuropsychological status, which encompasses domains such as attention and executive functioning, language, memory and learning, sensorimotor, social perception, and visuospatial processing, as well as behavioral observations.
    • Age Range: 3–16 years
    • Completion Time: 45 minutes–3 hours (depending upon age of child and assessment given)

Adaptive Tests

Adaptive tests examine the level of an individual’s everyday self-care and independent living behaviors. These behaviors can range from simple (buttoning clothing) to complex (driving a car). Adaptive behavior is important to independent living in older ages and issues of health and safety in younger ages. Individuals who score higher on adaptive measures are better able to negotiate their environment and manage their everyday personal and external (e.g., community) domains. Adaptive tests include the following:
  • Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale, Third Edition (Vineland–3) - The Vineland-3 includes a structured interview with caregivers, and a questionnaire for caregivers and teachers. The Vineland-3 is designed for individuals with and without disabilities. It examines major areas of adaptive living including: socialization, communication, daily living skills, motor skills, and maladaptive behaviors.
    • Age Range: Birth–Adulthood
    • Completion Time: 20 minutes–90 minutes (depending upon form given)

  • Adaptive Behavior Assessment System, Third Edition (ABAS-3) – The ABAS-3 assesses the overall adaptive skills in several domains of everyday living including communication, community use, functional academics, health and safety, home or school living, leisure, self-care, self-direction, social, work, and, motor. The behavior rating scale is typically completed by a parent, caregiver, and/or teacher.
    • Age Range: Birth–Adulthood
    • Completion Time: 15–20 minutes

Achievement Tests

Achievement tests measure specifically learned, academic skill sets. When used in combination with intelligence tests, they can help determine if academic functioning is consistent with basic intelligence. A large gap in scores between intelligence and achievement tests may indicate a learning disability. Comprehensive testing is always necessary to determine a learning disability, but a gap in scores between intelligence and academic tests can be one sign of a learning disability. Achievement tests include the following:
  • Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement, Fourth Edition (WJ-IV) – The WJ-IV measures current academic achievement across several major areas including reading, math, and written language. The WJ-IV uses broad cluster scores that take into account basic skills, fluency, and application. Results of the WJ-IV can be used to identify learning disabilities and specific skill deficits.
    • Age Range: 2 years–Adulthood
    • Completion Time: 5 minutes per subtest

  • Wechsler Individualized Achievement Test, Third Edition (WIAT-III) – The WIAT-III measures current academic achievement across several major ability areas. Results of the WIAT-III can be used to identify learning disabilities and specific skill deficits when compared to tests of overall ability (i.e., IQ testing). The WIAT-III comes in an analog or computer platform. There are 16 subtest that measure nuanced aspects of oral reading, math fluency and early reading skills, listening comprehension, oral expression, written expression, reading comprehension, and others.
    • Age Range: 4–50 years
    • Completion Time: Varies by grade level and number of subtests administered

  • Wide Range Achievement Test – 5 (WRAT-5) – The WRAT-5 measures current academic achievement across several major ability areas including reading, math, and written language. The WRAT-5 has a shorter test time, with less subtests when compared to other achievements measures, such as the WJ-III and WIAT-II. Results of the WRAT-5 can be used to identify learning disabilities and specific skill deficits when compared to test of overall ability (i.e., IQ testing). The WRAT-5 is not generally an accepted measure to qualify a child for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in the school setting under the classification of Specific Learning Disability.
    • Age Range: 5 years–adulthood
    • Completion Time: 15-25 minutes (ages 5–7); 35–45 minutes (ages 8 and up)

Socio-Emotional/Behavioral Tests

Behavioral checklists examine overt behaviors that may interfere with daily living, emotional development, academics, and/or everyday relationships. Behavior checklists typically indicate how a child is functioning compared to same-aged peers. For example, a child with ADHD may show elevated levels of inattention on a behavioral measure when compared to neurotypical, same-age peers. Often, more than one informant is asked to complete these checklists such as a parent, teacher, and sometimes the child. Common assessments used to examine behaviors include:
  • Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scales (CBRS) – The CBRS is an assessment that obtains a rater’s perceptions about a wide range of childhood behaviors. The CBRS may aid in investigating an assortment of childhood disorders and problem behaviors, which can be helpful with diagnosis and treatment. Higher scores mean more symptom presence, or more difficulty in the respective area, typically with resulting impairment in functioning.
    • Age Range: 6–18 years
    • Completion Time: 20 minutes

  • Conners 3rd Edition (Conners 3) – The Conners 3 gathers parent’s ratings of their child’s behavior at home and teacher observations of the child’s behavior at school. It primarily assesses for behaviors related to ADHD and common co-morbid disorders. Results are often used to guide diagnosis and treatment decisions. Higher scores mean more symptom presence or more difficulty in the respective area, typically with resulting impairment in functioning.
    • Age Range: 6–18 years
    • Completion Time: 20 minutes

  • Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) – The CBCL is a checklist that can be filled out by parents, teachers, or self. Forms include a preschool, school age, and adult form. The CBCL examines several psychological issues that often lead to maladaptive functioning (i.e., anxiety, depression).
    • Age Range: 6–18 years
    • Completion Time: 30-40 minutes

  • Behavior Assessment System for Children, Third Edition (BASC-3) - The BASC-3 obtains parent, teacher, and self-perceptions of an individual’s behaviors as related to behavioral and emotional concerns. The BASC-3 has several scores for psychological issues that may impair functioning such as hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, depression, withdrawal, attention problems, and others. It also has a section that assesses adaptive skills.
    • Age Range: 2–21 years
    • Completion Time: 10-30 minutes


Information & Support

For Professionals

Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (AAP)
Information for professionals interested in child development and behavior. Contains practice management resources, upcoming educational events, relevant policy statements, and high-quality links; American Academy of Pediatrics.

American Psychological Association (APA)
APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Their website provides information to the general public on a variety of topics.

Helpful Articles

Tate R.
A Compendium of Tests, Scales and Questionnaires.
London, England: Psychology Press; 2010. 978-1-84169-561-7
A reference with an extensive selection of instruments developed to measure a range of neurological conditions, both progressive and non-progressive. Includes established instruments as well as newly developed scales.

Authors & Reviewers

Initial publication: September 2008; last update/revision: August 2019
Current Authors and Reviewers:
Author: Sean Cunningham, Ph.D.
Reviewer: Nancy L. Cantor, Ph.D.