Stanford Binet

Understanding Your Child’s Stanford Binet Scores

Table of Contents

What is the Stanford-Binet?

The Stanford-Binet is an individually administered adaptive intelligence test.  While the WISC-V is now the most commonly administered IQ test for children, the Stanford-Binet has been around the longest.  It measures five weighted factors in both verbal and nonverbal abilities. The five factors are: knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, working memory, and fluid reasoning. 

While the Stanford-Binet is often used to identify gifted and talented children, the original test (the Binet-Simon) was designed to do quite the opposite; Binet designed the original assessment to identify children with intellectual deficits.  Terman re-designed the Binet-Simon for use in the United States and adapted it to be used for the identification of individuals with learning disabilities and those with above average intellect.

 

Most psychologists administer the Stanford-Binet – Fifth Edition, which was released in 2003.  Administration of the Stanford-Binet takes anywhere from 30 minutes to two and a half hours. Age and abilities factor into the amount of time it takes a child to complete the assessment.  Age determines the starting point for the first section whilst performance on each sub-test determines the starting point for the subsequent subtest.

Who can take the Stanford-Binet?

The Stanford-Binet – Fifth edition can technically be administered to any individual of at least two years of age; however, for more reliable results, its advisable to wait until a child is at least 5 or 6 years of age.  

What does the Stanford-Binet measure?

Fifteen subtests exist for the Stanford-Binet; however only ten subtests are administered to assess five factors: knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual spatial processing, working memory, and fluid reasoning. For each verbal subtest, there is a non-verbal counterpart.  Six subtests: vocabulary, comprehension, pattern analysis, quantitative, bead memory, and memory for sentences are administered to all ages; the remaining four subtests vary slightly by age.

 

  • The bead memory sub-test asks an individual to review, retain, and replicate a pattern of beads from memory.
  • The vocabulary sub-test asks an individual to define everyday words; this section is comparable to the vocabulary section on the WISC-V. For the first fifteen words, the administrator says a word and asks the individual to tap the corresponding picture. For the remaining sections, a word is said aloud and presented visually to the individual. The individual must verbally provide a definition.
  • The quantitative sub-test asks an individual to mentally match, add, subtract, multiply, and divide math problems. This section is comparable to the quantitative section of the WISC-V. While the Stanford-Binet and the WISC-V are designed to test ability, learned skills do play a role in a students’ performance on this sub-test.
  • The memory for sentences sub-test asks an individual to recall sentences of increasing length and complexity.
  • The pattern analysis sub-test asks students to replicate visual patterns using blocks. This section is comparable to the Block Design sub-test of the WISC-V.
  • The comprehension sub-test is a test of general knowledge and problem solving skills. The first six items ask the individual to identify body parts. The remaining items include questions that require problem solving and/or social information. This sub-test is often criticized for being culturally biased. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 2 and up.
    The absurdities sub-test asks individuals to identify things that are false or absurd. The first four items as the individual to point to an inaccurate picture among three alternatives. The remaining items ask the individual to verbally express the absurdity found within a single picture. This section is similar to activities that ask students to find what doesn’t belong. This sub-test is administered to individuals age 2 to 14.
  • The verbal relations sub-test asks individuals to identify a similarity between three words out of a four word set. This section is similar to the similarities sub-test of the WISC-V. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 12 and up.
  • The number series sub-test asks the individual to identify the pattern in a series of four numbers and then identify the next two digits in the series. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 7 and up.
  • The equation building sub-test asks the individual to re-sequence numbers and mathematical symbols to build a correct equation. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 12 and up.
    The copying sub-test is a visual reasoning sub-test. The first six items ask the individual to recreate a block model while the remaining items ask the individual to draw (copy) a geometric design. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 2 to 13.
  • The matrices sub-test asks the individual to figure out the missing element. Multiple choice alternatives are provided. This section is comparable to the Figure Matrices sub-test of the WISC-V. This section is administered to individuals ages 7 and up.
  • The paper-folding and cutting sub test presents an individual with a series of figures that show a paper being folded and cut. The individual must envision how the paper would look when unfolded and select the appropriate multiple choice answer. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 7 and up.
  • The memory for digits sub test asks an individual to repeat a series of numbers in the sequence that they were provided in. This is comparable to the digit-span section of the WISC-V. This subtest is administered to individuals ages 7 and up.
  • The memory for objects sub-test asks the individual to review a picture with a series of objects on it. This image is then removed, and the individual is asked to identify the order in which the objects were presented from a different (larger) array of images. This sub-test is administered to individuals ages 7 and up.

How is the Stanford-Binet scored?

A raw score is calculated for each sub-test.  In addition, a composite core is calculated for each of the five factors.  A full scale IQ (FSIQ) is calculated as well as a Verbal IQ and a non-verbal IQ.  One’s verbal IQ is determined based on performance on each of the five verbal sub-tests.

 

 Similarly, a non-verbal IQ is determined based on performance on each of the five non-verbal sub-test.

There’s a significant discrepancy between my child’s Verbal IQ and Non-verbal IQ.  What does this mean?

A significant difference between verbal and nonverbal IQ can be indicative of a learning disability.  If either your child’s verbal IQ or nonverbal IQ places your child in the gifted range, but the other score does not (or their FSIQ does not), your child may be twice-exceptional.  Further evaluation may be useful.

Does the Stanford-Binet have a ceiling effect? 

All test have a ceiling, a maximum level of performance that can be assessed; the Stanford-Binet does have a ceiling; however, its ceiling is higher than comparable tests (such as the WISC-V).  If your child “hits the ceiling” on the Stanford-Binet, that’s okay. It’s likely that you still got the information you needed. It is not often necessary (for practical purposes) to distinguish between an FSIQ of 160 and 165

Should my child take the Stanford-Binet or the WISC-V? 

If your child is under the age of 5, and you feel that an IQ test is absolutely necessary, your child should take the Stanford-Binet rather than the WISC-V. 

 

If you believe that your child is profoundly gifted, the Stanford-Binet may be a better option than the WISC-V.  With the extended norms, the Stanford-Binet has a higher ceiling than the WISC-V.

My child didn’t do well on the Stanford-Binet. Does that mean my child isn’t gifted?

The Stanford-Binet is only one way to measure a child’s intelligence.  It is one test, administered on one day. If your child was sick, uninterested in the testing itself, or having an otherwise off day, his/her abilities might not be adequately represented by his/her Stanford-Binet scores.  Moreover, if your child was under the age of 6, your child’s level of cooperation, engagement, and willingness to follow directions may have affected their performance.


If your child has other scores that demonstrate similar (but not always exact) abilities, then consider the results reliable.  If your child’s results on the Stanford-Binet appear to be an anomaly, differing significantly from a number of other assessments your child has taken, consider what factors may have contributed to this and talk with the administrator for more insight.    

My child scored higher/lower on the Stanford-Binet than (s)he did on the WISC-V.  Which one is more reliable? 

I wouldn’t necessarily say that one is more reliable than the other although the Stanford-Binet normatives are based  on a larger population which makes me lean towards the Stanford-Binet in terms of reliability. IQ is not an exact science, and one’s results on an IQ test might change slightly from one day to the next due to a number of factors including: health, adequacy of sleep, diet, and stress.  

Binet actually did not believe that he was measuring inborn or permanent levels of intelligence; he believed that one’s IQ score could vary from time to time.  He also believed that intelligence could not be defined by a single number; the ranking of children using such a scale was unfair. Despite this, it is common practice in the modern era to classify children based on a single number.  We now know that IQ remains relatively stable over time; however, a number of factors can contribute to poor performance on any one day of testing.

As such, if there is a minor discrepancy between your child’s performance on the Stanford-Binet and another intelligence test, don’t be alarmed.  Moreover, children will NOT get the exact same FSIQ from one intelligence test to another; these assessments may be similar, but they are not identical.

What can I do with my child's Stanford-Binet scores?

Parents typically seek out an IQ Test for their child because they need an IQ test for a specific purpose.  IQ scores may be used for entrance into various gifted programs including your school’s gifted and talented program, Mensa, Davidson Young Scholars, and HEROES Academy.  

 

HEROES Academy requires a FSIQ of 130 or higher on the Stanford Binet for admissions purposes.  Students may submit a number of other tests for admissions instead.

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