What is the WPPSI?

Assessments like to confuse us with complicated acronyms.  What do all of these letters mean anyway?  As a parent who is looking at an assessment for their young child, it is important to understand what assessment your child will be taking, what the complicated acronyms actually mean, and most importantly, what the results mean for your child.  The goal of this post is to break down the WPPSI (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence) and help parents understand exactly what the test measures and how the results may be used.

The Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence is an intelligence test specifically designed for children between the ages 2.5 years to 7 years.  Because it assesses such a wide range of developmental changes for children, it has been divided into two bands (one for roughly ages 2-3 and one for ages 4-7). The WPPSI was developed out of other preexisting intelligence tests that David Wechsler designed, one for adults (WAIS) and one for children over the age of 6 (WISC).  Essentially this is a common and widely used intelligence test that has been adapted to administer to younger children.

At the conclusion of the WPPSI you will be provided with your child’s Verbal and Performance IQ score as well as a Full Scale IQ score.

The exam itself is broken down into 14 subtests that are either core, supplemental, or optional.  As the name may suggest, the core subtest is the backbone of the test and must be completed in order to assess the child’s verbal, performance and full scale IQ.  The supplemental subtests will provide additional information about a child’s cognitive abilities and can be used as replacements for one of the core tests if it is deemed inappropriate for the child to complete.  Optional subtests cannot be used as a replacement but will provide additional information about cognitive functioning.

Examples of these tests may include: arranging objects, block design, matrix reasoning, object assembly, finding similarities, naming pictures, picture memory, vocabulary, and even age appropriate comprehension.

Why should my child take the WPPSI?

The results of the WPPSI can be used as a general marker of intellectual function.  It can also be used as a way to identify intellectual giftedness or identify cognitive or learning difficulties.  If you are concerned that your child may need extra help in the classroom or may need a more challenging curriculum, the WPPSI can help give you additional information in your decision making.

The truth about the WPPSI

While assessments like the WPPSI can be a helpful tool in providing insight into your child’s learning abilities, it is important to know that assessments given at the Pre-K level are notoriously unreliable measures of intelligence and the results can be dramatically dependent on factors such as where the test is administered, who is administering the test, and the child’s familiarity with the content.  While there is nothing wrong in familiarising your child with the types of questions they may encounter during the assessment, professionals highly discourage specifically coaching your child for the exam.

The truth of the matter is, the WPPSI can give us some insight into the brains of our little ones but it should always be used with perspective. Assessments can be useful tools in decision making but the limitations should always be considered.

A psychologist can be helpful in providing the knowledge of assessments, like the WPPSI as well as help navigate and interpret the results in a way that can be useful and beneficial for the entire family. If you would like to book in a time to speak to a psychologist about the WPPSI or any other child assessment, contact us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

How to Choose a Child Psychologist
How do I know if my Child has Learning Difficulties?
From Pre-School to Primary School: Benefits of a School Entry Assessment

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