Monday, November 5, 2012

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth Edition

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) was designed to evaluate cognitive functioning in adults aged 16 to 90. I chose this assessment because of its wide use (Whiston, 2009) and my desire to implement it eventually in research and perhaps, practice. Although it is lengthy for test takers (60-90 minutes) (Pearson Assessments, 2012), it is a valuable research tool as well as an asset in counseling (Whiston, 2009). In the USA, Pearson requires specific qualifications of the examiner including licensure or certification in a discipline related to its intended use, or a doctorate degree in a discipline closely related to its intended use.

Although its scoring procedure and interpretation is somewhat complex, I appreciate that the test includes the examiner's observations of the client throughout the assessment. Although anecdotal, keen observational skills could produce an abundance of valuable information about the client (Whiston, 2009). Whiston (2009) noted that as baby boomers age, there has been a greater interest in neurological disorders. The WAIS-IV may play an important role in understanding the effects of these disorders and deficiencies in older adults (Whiston, 2009).

                                               Strengths and Limitations


I appreciate the strength of this assessment's norming procedures. Its norming sample consisted of 2200 participants from a wide range of regions, ages, races and ethnicities, educational levels and both genders (Canivez, 2010). This makes it strong and representative of a wide range of clients. One caveat to this appraisal is that some research claims the WAIS-IV favors academic intelligence, and counselors should be advised of this claim, especially when utilizing this assessment on clients from diverse cultures that may not value this type of intelligence (Schraw, 2010). Counselors must use assessments appropriately and competently, and understand the test's technical qualities, especially that it is reliable and valid for populations similar to the client's (American Counseling Association (ACA), 2005). Furthermore, counselors must be fully trained in the use of assessments such as the WAIS-IV, and understand, without a doubt, that their use is appropriate in clients' unique cultural contexts ( Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), 1996).

Additionally, I appreciate this assessment's ten core subtests and five supplemental subtests, which supply the level of dimension necessary to adequately describe the magnitude of intelligence. The results from the WAIS-IV have the potential to yield a holistic view of the client's cognitive functioning, rather than other types of assessments that may provide a linear or less dimensional perspective of the client. The constructs measured by the WAIS-IV are generally perceived as reasonable and a fairly exhaustive description of human cognitive capabilities (Schraw, 2010). Its theoretical assumptions of the constructs measured are based on 50 years of research and an abundance of empirical data (Schraw, 2010).


One limitation is the complexity of the scoring and interpretation of the WAIS-IV (Canivez, 2010). Unlike assessments that can be administered and scored by office staff, this assessment must be utilized by examiners trained in the particular observational skills required for the test, and have a thorough understanding of the scoring and interpretive procedures. Counselors always make the final determination of a test's appropriateness and take responsibility to assure that they are knowledgeable and have sufficient training in the administration, general use, and interpretation of assessments (ACA, 2005). Furthermore, counselors are responsible for decisions made in treatment based on the results of assessments that those decisions are made in the best interest of the client (ACA, 2005).

A second limitation is the lengthy time it takes to implement the assessment, although considering the test's reliability, validity, generalizability, and wide applications in counseling across a variety of populations, it is a usable and dependable assessment when used for its intended purpose. To maintain an ethical practice, especially in the realm of diagnosis, counselors need to use common sense and good judgment and use assessments competently by keeping abreast of contemporary research on the tests they utilize in practice (Weiner, 1989).


American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (1996). AMCD multicultural counseling competencies. Retrieved from pdf

Canivez, G., L. (2010). Test review of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth Edition. In R. A. Spies, J. F. Carlson, & K. F. Geisinger (Eds.), The eighteenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Pearson Assessments. (2012). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS–IV). Assessment and Information. Retrieved October 29, 2012, from

Schraw, G. (2010). Test review of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Fourth Edition. In R. A. Spies, J. F. Carlson, & K. F. Geisinger (Eds.), The eighteenth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln, NE: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements. Retrieved from

Weiner, I. B. (1989). On Competence and Ethicality in Psychodiagnostic Assessment. Journal of Personality Assessment, 53(4), 827-831. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa5304_18

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