What was this test I was given when I was a kid?
January 9, 2010 7:35 PM   Subscribe

I took a test in second grade, but was never told what it was or why I was taking it. Does anyone know what it was?

When I was in second grade, I got called out of class and was told to bring some pencils. I remember sitting in a room with a man in an empty classroom. He administered a test that involved a bunch of different exercises. These are the ones I remember:

--He read off a several long series of numbers. After each series I would have to repeat the numbers back to him in backwards order.
--He would tell me stories, and I would have to explain why the story was false or illogical or something. Like, "A man leaves his house and walks downhill to the grocery store. He then leaves the grocery store and walks downhill back to his house. What's wrong with the story?"
--Same sort of thing, but with pictures. I remember seeing a picture of a man in a park walking his dog on a sunny day. Problem with the picture was that his shadow wasn't being cast in the right direction.
--I remember doing something with shapes, or with colored blocks, or something spatial along those lines. Pretty vague memory.

That's really all I can remember. Lots of Mensa-style puzzles. I remember it being incredibly fun (for a nerdy kid who always loved puzzles) and have wondered about it ever since. I wasn't told what I was doing at the time, and I never heard back about what the results were. I asked my parents about it long after the fact and they said they didn't know either. If it matters, this was in Keizer, Oregon circa 1990.

I assume this was some kind of IQ test, but I'd love to know a) if anyone knows the name of this particular test, b) if a copy of it is available online anywhere, c) why I was given the test and not told anything about it after the fact? Does anybody know about this sort of thing?
posted by soonertbone to Education (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
c) This is the sort of test schools give kids to determine who gets in the gifted classes.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:39 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding, this sounds exactly like the district testing to see if you would be placed in gifted classes.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:44 PM on January 9, 2010

Mr. DrGail (who is a clinical psychologist) says it's one of the standard IQ tests -- the Stanford-Binet or the WISC -- used for children.
posted by DrGail at 7:45 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a very similar test in 5th grade, in fact it sounds like the exact same test, when my parents had me evaluated for a learning disability. I clearly remember the "What's wrong with this story" part of it. I did get to learn my IQ when it was all over, after my parents had a meeting with the school.

So yeah, it was probably some sort of IQ-type test, perhaps they wanted to see if you had some sort of learning disability. Were you having any trouble in school at the time?

In my case, they told me I was "smart but lazy" and blamed all my lack of academic excellence on "problems at home."
posted by bondcliff at 7:45 PM on January 9, 2010

Best answer: It sounds like a kid version of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, or it might be the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales.

I defer to any actual testing psychologists; I took the WAIS in college and it had all of that stuff going on.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:47 PM on January 9, 2010

I had a bunch of these tests at all ages up through middle school. First they were to see if I could get into the gifted classes, and then it was to see where I fell in terms of IQ among the kids in GT. Most specifically, the main test I took to determine my IQ and get me into the gifted and talented core program in Fairfax County, Virginia public schools in the mid 90s sounds exactly like you describe.
posted by Mizu at 7:51 PM on January 9, 2010

I definitely agree that it was some sort of IQ/cognitive test used to determine eligibility for special education (IEP) or a gifted program. I just tried briefly looking up the subtests on the WISC that was being used in 1990 (they're now on the WISC-IV) but couldn't find anything quickly. If you were being evaluated for special education, schools are mandated to keep those records until you are 22 years old. It sounds like you are older than that, but perhaps the school still has records? Alternately, do your parents remember what they were told about the test results or do they keep any educational records for you anywhere?
posted by Nickel at 7:52 PM on January 9, 2010

Best answer: FYI, the kid version of the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale is the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC).
posted by Nickel at 7:53 PM on January 9, 2010

I remember doing this! I can't recall exactly what it was for, but the gifted-class placement theory seems right.

On preview, I was starting to have trouble at school, so maybe it's for learning disability evaluation as bondcliff says? I took the tests later, in fifth grade or so, and I had been in gifted classes since first grade. I do have a distinct memory of feeling like I was taking these tests because something was "wrong" with me, though that probably doesn't mean anything.

Now I'm intrigued and am totally calling my mom tomorrow to ask if she remembers more about this.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:53 PM on January 9, 2010

What everybody else said--IQ-ish, or cognitive anyway, probably to determine whether you'd receive some kind of special treatment (no negative connotation intended by that word choice).

When I was in second grade, I took a similar test. In my district at the time, a lot of things like tracked reading and math classes and gifted/talented classes and learning-disability stuff started in the third grade).
posted by box at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2010

Best answer: It sounds rather like WISC to me also. In particular, WISC-R or WISC-III from the dates.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:56 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, it sounds like the WISC. The backward number strings, in particular, were likely the Digit Span portion of the WISC - you would have been asked to repeat forward number strings as well, but probably that was less memorable to you. (I'm not as familiar with other sections of the WISC, so do not know what specific section each of the other tasks you mention would be.)
posted by Stacey at 8:16 PM on January 9, 2010

Yes to what everyone's said above, but wanted to add: If your parents are the type to keep Important School Documents, they may have the paperwork that both preceded and resulted from this IQ test. My boyfriend's mother recently handed over the paperwork for when he was tested and the annual IEPs (individual education plan) that his teachers/administrators had to prepare for him every year once he was placed in gifted classes. I haven't seen my own paperwork, but I know from sneaking a peak at my sister's that it did include her WISC (I think) score.

It's surreal stuff to read through once you're an adult -- teachers assessing your personality, strengths, weaknesses, progress, etc. -- and I recommend it if you think the "Christ, I've *always* been this way" revelations won't throw you too much.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:51 PM on January 9, 2010

I took that test in second grade. In my district, gate classes and the gate school were run on a lottery system. If your district did the same thing, either you didn't get a placement, or you did and your parents didn't want to switch your school. At least, that's what happened to a few people I knew.
posted by shinyshiny at 9:22 PM on January 9, 2010

I had similar tests in Elementary School.

And, as it turned out, I got in to both Special Education (for a speech impediment) and the Gifted Program (for being awesome).
posted by spinifex23 at 9:44 PM on January 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

I took a very similar test, also in second grade, to see if I should be put in gifted classes. I can't remember whether I knew about it ahead of time.
posted by joshrholloway at 10:20 PM on January 9, 2010

Could be to put you on gifted track, but if it was rudimentary logic stuff could also be to make sure you don't go to what we in NC called Chapter 1 classes...

Quick story, 3rd grade 1993, I had a authoritarian fat ass idiot teacher I hated. As a result I did as little work as possible to still technically get good grades. Anyway, one day without any explanation I was taken to a different room and administered a test. I don't specifically recall the test, just that it was sorta strange logic puzzles, understanding relationships etc. I guess similar to what you described. I took the test. Never heard anything official back...

But one of the teachers in the Special Ed dept at my elementary school was the mother of a good friend of mine. She saw that one student (me) had scored a near perfect score on the test, which is odd because to be recommended to take this test you are supposed to be well below average, or maybe borderline average, not extremely above average in all categories. When she saw it was me she got angry.

Because of my high score, and my friend's mom, my parents found out and raised hell... but I never heard any of this until years later. I still hate that idiot teacher, and now even more so because she put me one test away from being sidetracked into the "slow" classes. All basically because she wanted to get rid of me.

In 4th Grade a I had a much better teacher, in 5th grade I stared in the Advanced classes and started maxing out the EOG's at 99% every grade after that... But, it's *all* bullshit because tests are all culturally constructed fictions that try to measure normative notions of "Standard intelligence" that doesn't exist. It's all methods to control people.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 11:12 PM on January 9, 2010

PS - My dad is now (and was at the time) a special education teacher, he remembers the event distinctly and was friends with my friend's mom. We talked about it recently and he told me my interpretation of it is EXACTLY what happened. This is how the public school system works. My Dad now works at an charter school.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 11:20 PM on January 9, 2010

I've been tested this way in grammar school both for being put in gifted courses and another time as part of a "standards" mapping of the student body. The mapping examination took students from all levels of the school and tested them to see the overall picture of the student body. Just noting this as it is common for these to be done for testing children for gifted courses, but there are (were) other justifications too.
posted by qwip at 3:39 AM on January 10, 2010

I had a very similar experience in Grade 4 and indeed was placed in the "gifted" program for the rest of elementary school.

I recently wondered about the exact results of those tests. I am 33 now and often wonder just how smart I used to be. So I called the school thinking there must be this "permanent record" somewhere - they hold it over your head all through school. It turns out 20 years is too long. They said my record would have followed me through High School and so I had to call and ask there. It turns out the school destroys all the records except a printout of your grades within a couple of years of graduation - it was a storage issue.

So, that kind of sucked to find out, as I had totally thought of this when I was younger but never thought to actually call the school.
posted by smartypantz at 4:07 AM on January 10, 2010

It sounds like a standardized test. I was tested the same way with the same sorts of questions in 2nd grade.

(They made me do it again a day later, but that time I had to sit right next to the teacher so she could keep an eye on me for cheating.)
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:46 AM on January 10, 2010

Matching up the tests you describe, it sounds like the Stanford-Binet, not the WISC. As for getting a copy, those kinds of tests are "supposed" to be secure and you should not be able to get your hands on it. I'm not saying it's not possible, but professional ethics are supposed to prevent anyone except trained psychologists from buying them and to keep those who can buy it from disclosing their contents. it's not a conspiracy or anything, it's about protecting the content from coaching so that we can trust test results.

You can definitely find examples of the items online. What you mention are the backward digit span, verbal and picture absurdities, and block arrangement tasks.
posted by parkerjackson at 9:48 AM on January 10, 2010

that sounds exactly like the test i was given in grade school when i was put in their "gifted" program. the funny thing about it was that the gifted program fell under the heading of "special ed" so there was some sort of asterix next to my name and every semester, right before the first test of any given class, the teacher would really quietly take me aside and offer all sorts of special assistance (extra time, someone to read me the questions, etc). then i would have to explain that i was "the other kind of special"

posted by swbarrett at 3:40 PM on January 10, 2010

Thanks for asking this question! I vaguely remember taking this test when I was in kindergarten to see whether or not I would be eligible to skip first grade, but in recent years I've come to wonder how I could find out more about it. This was in Lake Oswego, Oregon, in the early 1990s.
posted by clair-de-lune at 4:54 PM on January 10, 2010

I took a very similar test in Kindergarten. I was under the impression that it was testing for ADD (I later found the results of said testing, and mentioned ADD a lot). In retrospect, it seems like most of it was testing for how long I could pay attention. Was it possible it was testing for intelligence as well?
posted by piratebowling at 5:27 PM on January 10, 2010

That's funny, I've been meaning to ask this question but kept forgetting about it. I took a similar test in second grade (this was in the Los Angeles area in '90 or '91) and always wondered what it was for. I remember being told the next school year to take some *special* early morning class (er, guess that means I wasn't gifted) but never went to them.

I wonder if there's any way to get the results of that test in this day and age (it would explain a few things).
posted by wiretap at 5:57 PM on January 10, 2010

My dad, a psychologist who administered this test, says it's the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.
posted by purpleclover at 8:55 AM on January 11, 2010

How long should school systems have the results on hand? I was in a program in St. Paul, MN, in the mid-80s and I would like to learn more about how the whole (late, lamented) program was set up.

Also, I am starting to be curious abut my own kids' abilities, and I am hopeful that they will score higher than me. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:00 AM on January 11, 2010

« Older Damn Firewall.   |   Scottish banshee movie Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.