Understanding Your Child’s WISC-V Scores

What is the WISC-V?

The Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children – Fifth Edition, or WISC-V, is an individually administered intelligence test, or IQ test, designed for children between the ages of 6 and 16.  In total, the test only takes about an hour to administer; however, children may take the WISC-V as a part of a more comprehensive neuro-psychological evaluation which may take several hours. 

How is the WISC-V Scored?

The WISC-V generates five composite scores including Verbal Comprehension (VCI), Visual Spatial Index (VSI), Fluid Reasoning Index (FRI), Working Memory Index (WMI), and Processing Speed Index (PSI).  A Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) is generated based on seven subtests: Similarities, Vocabulary, Block Design, Matrix Reasoning, Figure Weights, Digit Span, and Coding. When we talk about an individual’s “IQ,” we are generally referring to their FSIQ score.  You may also receive a GAI score which is similar to an FSIQ; however, it places less weight on working memory and processing speed.  Significant discrepancies between a child’s FSIQ and GAI may indicate a learning disability. 

The Verbal Comprehension Index measures an individual’s ability to process, assess, and apply word, or verbal, knowledge.  Questions on this section of the test assess: word knowledge acquisition, information retrieval (storing and recalling information), ability to reason/solve verbal problems, and communication of knowledge. 

The Visual Spatial Index measures an individual’s ability to assess visual details and identify visual spatial relationships or patterns.  The questions on this section of the test typically ask students to construct geometric designs from a model, identify distinguishing details between two similar images, etc.


The Fluid Reasoning Index measures an individual’s ability to identify relationships among visual objects.  Questions on this section of the test ask the tester to complete a matrix or series, typically a visual pattern. 


The Working Memory Index measures an individual’s ability to register, maintain, recall, and manipulate both visual and auditory information during a short period of time.  Testers are provided with a series of information and asked to recall the information.  Individuals with poor working memory may require more repetition when learning new material. 


The Processing Speed Index measures how quickly an individual processes new information.  Testers are given specific tasks to complete along in set amounts of time.  Individuals with slower processing speeds typically require more time to complete school work and other daily tasks.  A low Processing Speed Index indicates that a child took longer than average to complete certain tasks.  Very conscientious students, students with testing anxiety, or perfectionists often score lower on PSI regardless of how “fast” they may process information.   

What do my child’s WISC-V Scores mean?

 After your child completes the WISC-V, you will receive a numerical score for each index AND an age percentile rank.  Age percentile ranks are based on data collected from 2,200 children.  

While each program has its own entrance requirements, an FSIQ of 115 – 129 is generally considered “mildly gifted,” an FSIQ of 130 – 144 is generally considered moderately gifted, and an FSIQ of 145 to 159 is generally considered “highly gifted.” 


The standard components of the WISC-V cannot distinguish between highly gifted, exceptionally gifted (160 to 179), or profoundly gifted (180 or higher); however, extended norms can be used to assess IQ in these upper limits.  In late 2019, the WISC-V added extended norms, extending the upper end of the raw score range to 28 points and the high end of the composite score to 210.

Does the WISC-V have a ceiling effect?

The highest possible index score that can be achieved on the standard WISC-V is 155; the highest possible FSIQ is 160.  Pearson added extended norms that extend both the “floor” and “ceiling” of the WISC-V.  


Should I request that a psychologist use extended norms for my child?

It’s exceedingly rare for a child to actually need extended norms.  Statistically speaking, only 1 in 20 MILLION same-age children should be expected to obtain an FSIQ over 180.  


What Should I Do with my Child’s WISC-V Scores?
IQ scores are often used for admittance into gifted and talented programs including:  pull-out or after school enrichment at your local public school, admission to Davidsons Gifted, admissions to HEROES Academy, admission to SENG gifted, etc. 

If you suspect a learning disability, the school may require IQ scores before considering granting a 504 Plan or an IEP. 


2 thoughts on “Understanding Your Child’s WISC-V Scores”

  1. Serena Cardenosa

    How do you get access to these tests? My child is homeschooled and so getting through the school is not possible.

    1. You have to be credentialed to have access. Not everyone has access to the assessments. Although, there is a Child Find law and by law if you would like your child assessed (under reasonable circumstances) the school district you’re closest to must do so.

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