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What Are the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The Stanford-Binet intelligence scales comprise an intelligence test that assesses five types of cognitive abilities and skills using 10 verbal and non-verbal tasks or subtests. The cognitive areas tested are knowledge, fluid reasoning, quantitative reasoning, working memory, and visual-spatial processing. The Stanford-Binet intelligence scales assess both a verbal and non-verbal areas with 10 subtests, and there are verbal and non-verbal tasks for each of the cognitive areas. Each subtest takes approximately five minutes to administer, and scoring can be calculated for a total IQ or a result for each cognitive area.

This intelligence test was first developed in France by Alfred Binet, in collaboration with Victor Henri. Binet and Henri outlined an assessment tool that would differentiate between a person’s mental abilities, such as memory, imagination, and attention. Binet later refined his project with the help of physician Theodore Simon, resulting in the 1905 publication of the Binet-Simon scale. Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman later revised Binet’s initial version and released the first edition of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales in 1916.

The contemporary version of the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales focuses on the five factors considered to be the most important in intellectual functioning: fluid reasoning, knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, and working memory. Each of these cognitive areas is measured by a verbal and non-verbal subtest. Since each of these 10 smaller exams takes approximately five minutes to administer, the total test time is usually about an hour.

Each of the five factors tested represents a specific cognitive area. For example, fluid reasoning is novel problem-solving, while knowledge encompasses what a person learns in formal and informal educational settings. Quantitative reasoning focuses on mathematical thinking, as visual-spatial processing tests the subject’s ability to see patterns and relationships as well as spatial orientation. Finally, working memory assesses how well the subject temporarily stores and sorts information.

The test typically begins with the object series/matrices subtest that assesses non-verbal fluid reasoning. The subject’s score on this first test determines where the examiner begins testing on the other non-verbal subtests. The next subtest is vocabulary and involves the identification of facial features, toys, and pictures. Additional subtests include math problems, giving directions, and remembering object patterns. Each subtest is adapted to the subject’s developmental level and gets progressively more difficult.

Scoring involves adding up the scores for each subtest and converting this sum to a scaled score. Non-verbal IQ, verbal IQ, and total IQ can also be calculated separately. The range of total IQ is between 40 and 160. A person with a score of 145 to 160 is considered to be very gifted, while someone scoring under 54 would be moderately impaired. The Stanford-Binet intelligence scales are appropriate for people who are at least two years old.

The Stanford-Binet intelligence scales have a range of uses. The test can be administered as part of a neuropsychological assessment or treatment. It is also used to determine appropriate educational placement. Researchers focused on aptitude frequently rely on this tool as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon248275 — On Feb 16, 2012

I am looking for the IQ rankings, and what levels equate to what scores. Finding this site was helpful.

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