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Types of test used

Each psychologist will choose the test, or tests, that he or she considers the most useful for the particular child. There are now many tests available and a psychologist need only become familiar with a selected number of these. The tests used in children with known, or suspected, specific learning difficulties can be divided into three basic types:

  • ? tests of intelligence
  • ? tests of academic achievement
  • ? tests of other special abilities.

Tests of intelligence

These tests contain many items that assess general intelligence. Some are ideally suited to children with learning difficulties because they do not involve reading or writing at all. They can, therefore, test intelligence irrespective of academic achievement. An intelligence test will not only establish the child’s level of intelligence, but also give valuable information about some of his strengths and weaknesses.

The different tasks in the test are usually grouped into a number of ‘sub-tests’; the score of each sub-test reflects a particular area of intelligence. The subtests for one of the commonest intelligence tests for school-aged children, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), are grouped together to give a ‘verbal’ score, which is a measure of the child’s ability in language- related tasks, and a ‘performance’ score, which is related to visual and manual tasks. In addition, there is a ‘working memory’ score and a ‘processing speed’ score. A comparison of these scores will show if a child is having particular difficulties in one of these areas.

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