Important News for Gifted Children Tested on the WISC-V

Recently, parents contacted me about testing their daughter on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fifth Edition (WISC-V), asking specifically that we use the new National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) guidelines for administering the test!  Her brother’s examiner hadn’t used those, and the new scoring methods might help their daughter. Parents, you never fail to impress us! Let’s share this important secret with all advocates for gifted and twice exceptional children.


On September 4, 2018, NAGC posted the position statement, “Use of the WISC-V for Gifted and Twice Exceptional Identification.” Based on a study of 390 gifted children from 7 U.S. sites, it reveals unusual scoring patterns on the WISC-V, quite unlike those of average children. The gifted children scored highest in the three index areas most heavily loaded for abstract reasoning (no real surprise): Verbal Comprehension, Visual Spatial, and Fluid Reasoning. They scored lower in processing skills, including Working Memory and Processing Speed (the lowest).  The discrepancies were significant enough to render the Full Scale IQ score (a summary of all areas) uninterpretable in most cases.


Once again, strong reasoning ability proves to be important for gifted identification on the WISC-V; processing skills are less relevant, especially speed on paper-and-pencil tests.  The same was true for the WISC-IV, warranting a previous position statement, “Use of the WISC-IV for Gifted Identification.”  Should we be trying to summarize widely discrepant scores into a Full Scale IQ to identify gifted children?  Twice exceptional children’s processing skills scores often plummet due to weaknesses. They would be the most affected by this practice, but this pattern was apparent in a large database of gifted children. 


Gee, don’t gifted programs often require the Full Scale IQ?  Hmmmmmm.


The NAGC position statement offers guidelines for use of a variety of available WISC-V expanded index scores, several of which emphasize gifted strengths without processing skills.  A few supplementary subtests may need to be administered to explore the child’s strengths more fully, but the extra time is warranted. The statement is designed to identify strengths in gifted children, even when a child is highly asynchronous.  Most importantly, it states, “…the WISC-V Full Scale IQ score should not be required. The Full Scale score may be disadvantageous for such students and may impede efforts to ensure that gifted classrooms, programs, and schools are accessible to children with disabilities.” Guidelines are as follows:


….NAGC recommends that any one of the following WISC-V scores (subtests in parentheses), should be acceptable for use in the selection process for gifted programs if it falls within the confidence interval of the required score for admission: 


  • the Verbal (Expanded Crystallized) Index (VECI) (SI, VC, IN and CO), 

  • the Nonverbal Index (NVI) (BD, MR, CD, FW, VP, and PS), 

  • the Expanded Fluid Index (EFI) (MR, FW, PC, and AR), 

  • the General Ability Index (GAI) (BD, SI, MR, VC and FW), 

  • the Full Scale IQ Score (FSIQ) (BD, SI, MR, DS, CD, VC, and FW), and/or 

  • the Expanded General Ability Index (EGAI) (SI, VC, IN, CO, BD, MR, FW and AR).

The Quantitative Reasoning Index (QRI) (FW and AR) serves as a good indicator of mathematical talent.  [This index summarizes fewer subtests, but is useful for this purpose.]

(Information about scores is available in test manuals and WISC-V Technical Reports #1 and 5.)


GDC is proud to have participated in this effort. As members of the NAGC Assessments of Giftedness Special Interest Group (SIG), GDC participated in data gathering, and our own Dr. Frank Falk and Caelan Darnell analyzed the data. Our SIG members, experienced examiners of gifted children across the U.S., came to consensus on the resulting guidelines. I drafted the original statement in collaboration with my Assessment SIG co-chair, Dr. Dan Peters, of the Summit Center, whose astute contributions improved clarity and the message of inclusiveness in the statement. Work with NAGC committee personnel continued throughout the spring and summer to arrive at a position all could support. Examiners of the gifted are thrilled to have more flexibility with the WISC-V and we hope advocates will pass the word!  See the actual statement at, posted on the NAGC website September 4, 2018, just after it was approved by the NAGC Board of Directors.


Bobbie Gilman
Associate Director, GDC