About Psychological Assessment Test: How and Why They are Used

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What Do They Cover?

When children start attending school, parents can expect to hear about assessments, such as a psychological assessment test. These types of assessments can cover multiple aspects of a child. For example, a child may be tested for intelligence or personality, which can aid teachers in finding the right method for teaching that child. Assessments also indicate if a child has special needs or is gifted.

Formal and Informal Assessments

While assessing a child, the practitioner may use formal assessments, informal assessments or both. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation notes that informal, or natural assessments, involve observing the child, using checklists and rating scales, and interviewing parents. The checklists and rating scales determine behavioral patterns in the child. Formal assessments, however, use norm-referenced or criterion-referenced tests. The school district will have these tests in their testing libraries, which include the rubrics for grading the tests.

Types of Psychological Assessment Tests

When creating an assessment of a student, there is a couple of factors to consider. For example, the child’s age determines the type of psychological assessment test given. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation states that children between ages 4 ½ years and 6 years may be given the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, which tests for language and perception. The Nova Southeastern University notes that the third edition of the test can be given to children between 2 ½ years to 7 years and 3 months. For older children, practitioners can administer the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

Other tests for cognitive functions in children include the Battelle Developmental Inventory, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities. When choosing an assessment test, the practitioner can focus on specific subtests. For example, the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities test for motor skills, memory, verbal abilities, general cognitive skills, quantitative abilities and perceptual-performance. An informal option for assessing cognitive function is the Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment, which also tests for social-emotional, language and sensorimotor.

Cognitive function may just be one aspect of the psychological assessment testing. For example, the practitioner may want to test for behavioral issues and emotional problems, which can affect a child’s performance in school. One test, the Child Behavior Checklist, looks for behaviors associated with different learning disorders. Besides asking the child questions, the Child Behavior Checklist also uses information provided by teachers and parents.

Time Frame For Testing

The amount of time it takes to do the testing is important. Children can become agitated or distracted when the testing goes on for too long, which can affect the results of the assessment. The time frame for each test varies by the age group. For example, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary School of Intelligence takes 30 to 35 minutes for children between 2 ½ years and 3 years and 11 months, and 40 to 50 minutes for children between 4 years and 7 years and 11 months. If doing multiple tests, the practitioner can allow the child to take breaks, or do the assessment over a few days.


LD Online: Assessments for Young Children (Reprint of article by ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation)

Nova Southeastern University: Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence

Nova Southeastern University: McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities

Nova Southeastern University: Child Behavior Checklist