Testing Gifted Students

Programs for gifted and talented students use various different measures to identify gifted and talented students.  Each identification process is designed to work with the program’s goals and needs. The identification process usually includes one or more of the following: ability testing, achievement testing, letters of recommendation from teachers, letters of recommendation from parents, portfolio assessments, and more.  Before you spend the money and time on any test that claims to identify gifted students, check with the programs that you are applying to.

Ability Testing
Achievement Testing

Ability Testing

The most common ability tests are ones that test for General Ability, or IQ.  These tests can be administered in group or individual settings.  

Individual Assessments (IQ Testing)

Individually Administered IQ tests are the most commonly accepted assessment used to identify children as gifted and talented.  IQ tests may be administered by a school psychologists, privately licensed psychologist, or a neuro-developmental psychologist.  

The Stanford-Binet measures five factors of cognitive ability:  fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, and working memory.  


  • has a slightly higher celing (164) than the WISC. 
  • It can be administered to students as young as two years old, however, it is advisable to wait until a child is at least 5 years of age.  
  • more animated than other tests, making it great for visual learners


  • The Stanford-Binet is more reliant upon verbal skills than the WISC.  
  • doesn’t compare different age categories because each category gets a different set of tests
  • very young children may do poorly because of the amount of concentration required

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children
The WISC-V tests students between the ages of 6 and 16.  It measures five indexes: verbal comprehension, visual spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed.  


  • Provides you with five sub-scores including: Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial, Fluid Reasoning, Working Memory, and Processing Speed
  • can be used to diagnose ADHD and other learning disabilities


  • The amount of time it takes to administer is variable, between one and four hours. 
  • Slightly lower ceiling than the Stanford-Binet(160)

Group-Administered Ability Tests

Group administered cognitive assessments are often administered in your local public or private school as a screening process to determine eligibility for gifted and talented services.  These tests  are NOT IQ tests but rather focus on cognitive abilities as related to academic success.

The CogAT, or Cognitivie Abilities Test, is a group administered multiple choice test of cognitive abilities.  
  • Quick and affordable administration
  • Can be used to screen all students at the same time


  • Not a true test of abilities, relies more heavily on acquired skills than the Stanford Binet or WISC

Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test

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