Administration of the WISC IV
Richard Niolon, Ph.D.


Kit (obviously)

Protocol (extra one for left handers)



#2 pencil with no eraser

Red pencil

Queries and prompts are specified in several places in the manual. Where told to do so, you should query or prompt and note this clearly on the protocol. Where there is no indication to prompt, this is because in the standardization of the test, it was determined that querying these responses was not likely to reveal any further information that would change the score.

You may however prompt with "What do you mean?" or "Tell me more about it" when a child's response is unclear to you or when they give some indication that something has interfered in their giving of the answer, such as a distracting noise, an emotionally laden topic that is part of the question….

As for repeating items:

you may not repeat items on Digit Span and on Letter-Number Sequencing. When a child asks the examiner to repeat an item for these two subtests, prompt the child with "Just take your best guess"

you may repeat the item once for Arithmetic, noting it on the protocol, while the stopwatch continues to run

for other subtests, you may repeat the item as many times as needed, with each repetition being noted on the protocol, and the stopwatch continuing to run

if the child does not respond to an item within 5-10 seconds, you may spontaneously repeat the item

Comprehension requires additional prompting sometimes to obtain more than one response to an item. In other words, to adequately explain the reason for something being the way it is, the child must explain more than one concept. If they explain only one (which is expected for the rest of the test), then we prompt them with "Tell me another reason why…." Vocabulary allows you to prompt a child with, "Listen carefully. What does xxxx mean?" if it appears they misheard the word, for example, defining concise instead of precise for example.

Some subtests do allow teaching the child. Pay special attention to these subtests and the rules and limits for teaching. Also pay close attention to the child during teaching tasks. While adults are more likely to attend to teaching tasks without a need for redirection, children are not so likely. The teaching task does no good if the child does not attend.

You can also reward effort and motivation by saying things like:

You are really working hard on this

That was a hard one, let's try another

I bet you can give it a try

You can not say things like:

Noooohhhhh! So close!

Are you sure that's your answer?

Nope. You got that one wrong.


Several subtests require close timing with a stopwatch. For subtests that do not require strict timing, however, 10-30 seconds should be sufficient for child to give their response. However, this rule is not meant to be rigid and inflexible:

generally, if a child is performing poorly, and does not give a reply within 30 seconds, you may encourage the child to respond. If they have no response or have been doing badly thus far, you can say "Let's try another one." However, if they have been doing well, you can allow them another 30 seconds.

for Word Reasoning, if the child does not respond within 5 seconds, you go to the next prompt.

if a child is working on something and very close to completion when the time limit expires, you can allow them additional time to complete the task. This does not change their score, but it does prevent the frustration the examiner would cause if s/he took materials away from the client before they were ready.

some subtests, such as Picture Concepts and Matrix Reasoning, appear to have no time limit.

Starting Rules

All but two subtests have different starting points based upon the child's age (the exceptions are Digit Span and Cancellation). As with the previous version of the test, the items before the starting items were passed by 95% or more of the children at that age. The starting item is the division line; one question after that item, less than 95% of children pass.

If it is expected that the child has much lower skills than same-aged peers, you may begin with the first item. The only exceptions are Coding and Symbol Search, which are always administered according to the child's age - there are different forms, one less and one more complex for younger and older children respectively.

One note, however; Letter-Number Sequencing has qualifying items for younger children. If the child cannot complete qualifying items, do not administer Letter-Number Sequencing (although they can fail the sample items and still take the subtest).

Note that if this is the case, Arithmetic must be administered as a substitute in order to compute the Working Memory Index and the Full Scale IQ; however, it is doubtful that they'll be able to answer the Arithmetic questions if they were unable to count, and so the WMI may be of little use to you.

Similarly, if the child fails to understand Coding even after the teaching, you do not have to administer the task. In this case, Cancellation must be administered.

Alternate Rules
From the FAQ file at

In the Letter–Number Sequencing subtest, the examinee is instructed to give the numbers in order first and then the letters in order. Why is credit awarded if the examinee gives the letters first in order and then the numbers in order?

The answer on Matrix Reasoning item #26 does not appear to be the only possible answer?

Reverse Rules

Most tests with Starting Rules also have Reverse Rules (Digit Span, Coding, Letter-Number Sequencing, Symbol Search, and Cancellation by the exceptions). If the child does not obtain a perfect score on both of the first two items administered, the examiner must give items in reverse sequence until two items in a row at a perfect score. It is assumed that the child would have passed the previous items at that point, and full credit for these unadministered items is given.

So, say that child obtained full credit on item 4, the starting point, but partial credit on item 5. The examiner would reverse and administer item 3. If item 3 received full credit (thus two in a row with full credit - items 3 and 4), the examiner would assume full credit for items 1 and 2, and continue to administer item 6.

Note, however, it is possible to meet the Discontinue Rule while applying that Reverse Rule. Continue administering items in reverse sequence until you get two in a row that receive full credit. Assume full credit only on items before the two full credit items, and if you go all the way back to item 1 without two in a row, all you can do is go forward to the item after you reversed and go until you meat the Discontinue Rule.

Discontinue Rule

As with the adult version of the test, there is a Discontinue Rule. After a certain number of items answered incorrectly, it is unlikely the child would receive any further credit. As a result, we stop administering (or discontinue) after a set number of items with no credit awarded.

Some of these picky picky administration details were pointed out by Dumont/Willis (2001).