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Psychometric test - what does this mean?

Psychometri-wha??? My child’s school or doctor have asked for a psychometric test, what does this mean?

Often parents will receive feedback from a teacher that their child is having difficulties with (for example) reading, or attention, or behaviour. This then lands them in our clinic, via a GP or paediatrician, asking to get psychometric testing done. So, what does this psychometric testing mean and what information can you expect to receive from a psychometric assessment report?

As with many things psychology-related, the term psychometric can refer to several different things but as a rough rule of thumb, think of psychometric testing as standardised testing that is individually administered to determine where an individual, your child in this case, sits compared to other similar aged individuals on the matter in question. It’s this comparison to age-matched peers that lets us know whether there is something going on for your child in respect to their: intelligence, academic abilities, attention, behaviour, or something else. Generally speaking, a psychometric test will include a cognitive assessment and an academic achievement test.

A cognitive assessment, also known as an IQ test, will provide an idea of your child’s overall intellectual ability and it will also determine your child’s specific pattern of strengths and weaknesses in the 5 areas of:

  • Verbal comprehension - how they deal with word stuff,

  • Visual spatial reasoning - how well they can evaluate visual stuff,

  • Fluid reasoning - how well they can use reasoning to recognise and apply rules to stuff,

  • Working memory - how well they can recall stuff while being asked to manipulate it, and

  • Processing speed - how fast they can do stuff.

With the output, the psychologist can then tailor recommendations to support and foster development in those specific areas that need it. And as a side note… if your child has been signed up for one of these, feel free to assure them that a cognitive assessment does not look like schoolwork.

An academic achievement test on the other hand, does look more like schoolwork (so maybe don’t mention that). An academic achievement test will present a variety of activities in various formats including listening to recordings, reading materials, writing, and doing some maths calculations and it will determine how your child is performing compared to age-matched peers in the areas of:

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Mathematics and

  • Oral Language

Now you may ask, why can’t I just get this information from the school? And this is where the standardisation amongst many other similar age-matched children comes in. A psychologist, will be able to:

  1. look at your child’s cognitive capacity, otherwise known as their IQ, and tell you whether they are performing academically in line, above, or below what we would expect from that cognitive capacity; and

  2. look at your child’s academic output and tell you whether they are performing in line, above, or below their age-matched peers.

And because the tests are individually administered, you will also get the psychologist’s observations of behaviours, seen through their clinical lens throughout the testing.

So then, if we go back to the initial reason you landed in our clinic asking for this test with the long name… we now have the information we need to better answer the question of what is behind those reports of your child’s reported difficulties with reading, or attention, or behaviour or whether something else is going on.

So why couldn’t they just say that?!


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