The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is a descendant of the Binet-Simon Scale, the first accepted IQ test in 1905. In 1916, this new version of this intelligence scale was developed to better measure cognitive and intellectual ability while also helping educators and clinicians diagnose learning disabilities, giftedness, and mental retardation. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale looks at several levels of cognitive ability in children, adolescents, and adults. The test incorporates both verbal and nonverbal responses. Each verbal subtest will have a corresponding nonverbal subtest for the five cognitive factors that are used to determine a person’s ability to learn. Those being:

  • Fluid reasoning
  • Knowledge
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Visual-spatial processing
  • Working memory

The intelligence quotient scores, or IQ scores, are interpreted by a highly trained examiner with experience in test assessment and psychology, typically a practicing psychologist. The IQ scores that are derived from the five factors provide a measure of the person’s intelligence and cognitive ability. The current version of the test is the Stanford-Binet 5, and is one of the two most commonly used intelligence tests along with the Wechsler tests (WPPSI, WISC, and WAIS).

What Does My Stanford-Binet Score Mean?

The SB5 can be scored by hand by an administrator, or it can be scored through an online reporting system. The scoring scales are derived from the 10 subtests (5 verbal and 5 nonverbal) with each test having a mean score of 10 with a range of 1-19 and a standard deviation of 3. These subtests are combined for a variety of different composite scores to measure specific types of intelligence. For example, each cognitive factor has an index score. This means that for an individual factor like fluid intelligence, the verbal and non-verbal subtests are combined for an index score for the person’s fluid intelligence. Likewise, the five non-verbal subtests are combined to create a domain score for non-verbal intelligence, and the same is done for verbal intelligence. The Full Scale IQ is the combination of all of the subtest scores, and this score is what people are referring to when they discuss an IQ score. For high IQ societies like Mensa, the Full Scale IQ score can be used to gain admittance if your score meets their requirements.

All test takers, from children to adults, will have their raw scores converted to a SAS score or Standard Age Score based on their present age. Results are based on representative scores for that age with an average score of 100 and a standard deviation of 16. Once a score is determined, the corresponding IQ range is used to determine how the person falls on the scale of intelligence compared to other people of the same age. The standard range for IQs can be seen below:

  • Low average: 80-89
  • Average: 90-109
  • High average: 110-119
  • High achiever: 120-129
  • Moderately gifted: 130-144
  • Highly gifted: 145-160+

As you can see, anything above 109 is considered above average intelligence, whereas anything below 90 is seen as below average. The maximum score range is 145-160+ for the very gifted and advanced, with 40-54 as the lowest score range for those who may be moderately impaired or delayed.

It’s also important to note that the scores are not static, and if a child or young adult take the test a second time, they may have a score that reflects a different range. Test results have shown that intelligence isn’t simply static, as IQ can be improved over time. So if a child or an adult has increased their knowledge or other cognitive abilities they may be able to substantially increase their IQ.

Many schools also use the results of tests like the Stanford-Binet as an entrance requirement to certain exclusive schools, so there can be real life consequences for children who take this test with the goal of entering one of these programs. With that in mind, it’s important to have your child prepared to take an IQ test. While testing professionals are not in favor of specifically preparing a young child to take a test (as it can skew results), there are some things you can do to position a child to have a greater chance of success. Learn more about how a person can improve their IQ.

Practicing for the Stanford-Binet Test

Prior to taking the test, there are some areas that can be studied for in order to improve overall scores. While it can be difficult to find specific topics to study for, an individual can work on puzzles, practice calculations, and review general knowledge items in science or other subjects to increase the likelihood of a higher intelligence score on the test.

The test has five major subsections of cognitive abilities that are measured: fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, and working memory. These cognitive abilities underlie the core of the test and what is actually being measured. The test itself is comprised of four tests that are scored individually and then are used to create a composite score, which is called the Standard Age Score which correlates to the person’s mental age. The four tests are Short-Term Memory, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Abstract/Visual Reasoning. The tests can be administered to children as young as two, and the examiner will adjust the test based on the ability and age of the child who is taking the test.

For more tips on how to improve your score on the Stanford-Binet check out our post on “How to prepare for the Stanford-Binet test”, which includes helpful tips for children and adults.

Stanford-Binet Test Format

The actual experience of taking the test will vary based on the age of the person taking it. A multitude of questions will be answered, such as verbal analogies and absurdities. Memory is tested, as well as procedural knowledge and vocabulary. The test will begin with easier questions and gradually progress to more difficult questions. The test is written to accommodate different age and ability levels, which is particularly important for children who may have never experienced this sort of testing before, and reduces the likelihood they become frustrated. The way the test is administered will allow the child to be challenged but not so much that he gives up or presented with problems that they cannot answer.

Stanford-Binet Test Validity and Uses

Overall, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is seen as a reliable IQ test. The SB5 has been proven to have high statistical reliability, with the Full Scale IQ, Noverbal IQ and Verbal IQ scores all having reliabilities of .95 or greater. If you’re not a statistician, just know that this is the sign of highly reliable results for a standardized test.

The Stanford-Binet Test also many practical uses. It can be used to aid in developing programs for both children with special needs and those who are deemed gifted, as well as multiple uses in assessment areas such as clinical or career assessment. As the test has developed since the early 1900s, it has incorporated additional measures of intelligence to present a product with a much more well-rounded view of what measures intelligence. While IQ scores are only one way to measure a person’s ability, they can be a valuable tool in certain cases.