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Who are the WISC / WPSSI designed for?

These tests are intended to measure intellectual abilities in children and adolescents. They are usually carried out in the case of suspected intellectual giftedness, learning difficulties or disorders, developmental delay or intellectual disability.

In the context of their admissions process, certain international schools such as “l’Ecole Jeannine Manuel de Paris”, require that a WISC or WPPSI be included with the application. This is all the more likely if a child is currently being educated overseas.

What does the assessment involve?

The WPPSI test is a cognitive psychological assessment of children aged 2 years and 6 months to 7 years and 3 months.

The WISC test is a cognitive psychological assessment of children and adolescents aged 6 years to16 years and 11 months.

These tests can only be carried out face to face with a clinical psychologist. They involve administering Weschler’s standardized tests.

WISC & WPPSI: partial measures of cognitive functioning

The WISC and WPPSI are what we call batteries of subtests: they are composed of a range of tests designed to evaluate different aspects of the cognitive (brain) functioning of children or adolescents.

The role of the psychologist is to explore specific superior cognitive functions that are necessary for learning. Primarily they study reasoning capacities, but also auditory and visual working memory, visual processing speed and visuospatial processing. Secondarily they focus on fine motor skills, attention and task performance.

The aim is to highlight the individual strengths and difficulties of the child.

WISC & WPPSI: IQ tests

The WISC, or Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children and the WPPSI, or Weschler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, are better known as IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests. They are, in fact, universally renowned tests for the evaluation of the intelligence quotient of children or adolescents.

It is important to note that it is actually quite rare to be able to measure the IQ of a child. Calculating an IQ requires significant congruence in the results obtained. But the reality is that it is very unusual that cognitive functioning is the same across all the cognitive functions (reasoning, working memory, processing speed, etc.).

The objective is not to reduce the child to a number which is relative and evolutive with time. Actually, the brain plasticity that is specific to childhood prevents prediction of future cognitive capacity. What is important is to situate a child in relation to their peer group at a particular point in time (T) in their development. For example, we can explain if the child’s performance in terms of conceptual reasoning is within the average range of his peer group.

Why do schools ask for this type of evaluation?

Some bilingual, international schools require a high standard and work at a fast pace. In order to avoid children being faced with educational difficulties, schools may prefer to ensure that the children they accept are able to keep up with the speed the school functions at.

However, these schools receive applications from children from a range of countries and a variety of educational systems that may be very different from one another. The teaching styles, methods and levels of education are broad, making it very complicated to evaluate a child’s ability to successfully follow the curriculum of any specific school.

Confronted with this sort of diversity, some schools have decided to rely on the internationally standardized WISC and WPPSI tests. Determining your child’s capacities in relation to their peers is a more effective way of measuring their ability to follow a school’s curriculum.

What is the assessment process?

Initial interview

Relationship building

The first session is primarily about initiating a relationship and building the foundations for the rest of the process. The psychologist meets the child/adolescent along with their parents. It is important that the child familiarizes themselves with the test location and the person administering the test. This helps them to feel comfortable and reassured and approach the process in a positive way. Certainly emotional investment, motivation, and peace of mind are all determining factors in the outcome of the assessment. An anxious or unmotivated child will not perform to the best of their abilities and hence the results will not be a true representation of their capacities.

Background information

This first meeting also allows for information to be gathered about the child’s academic and emotional functioning.
It is a very important part of the evaluation process. The aim is to put together a complete picture of the child in order to better understand and interpret the test results. The complexity of your child’s psychological functioning cannot be measured by only test scores – to have true value and coherence, the results need to be interpreted in a clinical context.

Test Administration

If the decision is made to go ahead with the evaluation process, appointments are planned for the test administration and the follow up to discuss the results.


The tests usually require a half day. Depending on the individual child or adolescent, we would expect anything between 2 and 4 hours for completion. The method of administration can be adapted according to how quickly the child tires and their level of motivation.

Clinical observation

This refers to the observation carried out by the psychologist during the clinical interview and the administration of tests.
Clinical observation is an essential part of an evaluation in the sense that it provides the psychologist with important information about the functioning of the child on a phenomenological level. It is this encounter that helps the professional to understand the child’s personal experience and provides subtle detail that makes the tests results cohesive.

Scoring, interpretation, Report writing

The psychologist will score the test, analyze the results and write a report of approximately 15 to 20 pages. This is then presented to the parents and the school.

Follow-up appointment

This is the stage involving written and oral feedback. The psychologist will present the written report to the parents and explain the results to the child and their parents.

If difficulties have been identified during the assessment, the psychologist may:

  • Offer diagnostic hypotheses
  • Recommend further evaluations
  • Recommend personalized therapeutic care plans
  • Recommend psycho-educational strategies to put into place at home and at school

The assessment report: a moving picture

The assessment is like a photograph, at a precise moment, of the child/ adolescent’s cognitive functioning. The results are of course likely to evolve over time in relation to cognitive, emotional and social development.

The aim is not to label the child with terms that seek to define them. The child is central in the process and not the requirement to make a judgment about them. The context of this evaluation provides a privileged opportunity to build a relationship with the child and listen to them without prejudice or any other idea than to help them to gain better self-understanding.