The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is intended for adolescents (16 and over) and adults. The WAIS is on its fourth edition and is comprised of 10 core subtests. These core subtests help to home in on the test taker's intelligence quotient.
The WAIS-IV was unveiled in 2008. The new WAIS includes four index scores: verbal comprehension index, working memory index, perceptual reasoning index, and the processing speed index. These four indexes are combined, weighted and averaged to derive the full scale IQ score on the WAIS.
So, what are some typical questions on the WAIS? On the verbal comprehension index, test takers will be tested on vocabulary measures as well as abstract reasoning ability.
The vocabulary test is fairly straightforward. The proctor asks the test taker to define a word and depending on his or her nuanced knowledge s/he receives a score from zero to two. For instance, a test taker might be asked to define the word "articulate."
The verbal comprehension index on the WAIS also includes a subtest called Similarities. This subtest asks the test taker to articulate the correlation between two words or concepts. For example, a test taker might be asked to say what the words "apple" and "orange" have in common. Of course, the correct answer is that both are fruits. This would garner the full two points whereas a less focused answer ("they're both food") might receive one point.
The perceptual reasoning index differs from the verbal comprehension index in some very critical ways. Most importantly, the perceptual reasoning index gauges the test taker's on-the-spot abstract reasoning ability whereas the verbal comprehension index chiefly tests the test taker on his or her acquired knowledge and rote memorization of facts.
Having said all that, what are some typical questions on perceptual reasoning index subtests like block design and matrix reasoning? In essence, the block design subtest asks the test taker to replicate a two-dimensional design from a book in three dimensions using blocks. This tests abstract reasoning, visual processing and fine motor control.
The matrix reasoning subtest, alternatively, is perhaps the mental image of a typical IQ question in most people's minds. On the WAIS' matrix reasoning subtest, test takers are asked to fill in the next bubble based on the preceding pattern of four images. This subtest heavily taps into visual processing and inductive reasoning. In essence, the test taker needs to make up his own algorithm and find the pattern that connects all of the options.
The working memory index tests your ability to keep many ideas in your mind at once. In this vein, the digit span subtest asks test takers to repeat a series of numbers backwards after hearing the prompt forwards.
The symbol search subtest on the processing speed index asks test takers to quickly scan for certain images.