IQ Testing and the Gifted Homeschooler

Much of the literature out there for parents of gifted children focuses on the importance of testing and identification. That’s because access to school-based gifted programs is generally based on test scores. Schools usually use standardized achievement testing or standardized group-administered ability tests like the CogAT or the OLSAT. Similar bubble-sheet testing that is available to homeschoolers includes CTY’s SCAT test and the ACT Explore.

A true IQ test does not involve a bubble sheet or a group administration. Your child is tested one-on-one, sitting face to face with a psychologist or someone with advanced training in psychological testing. The tester pays close attention to your child’s problem solving strategies. How she answers is as important as what she answers.

Many parents think of IQ as a single number that tells where your child ranks in comparison to other children. To a psychologist, an IQ test is more complex and interesting than that. We look at the profile of results on the different components of the test. We can consider how a child does on verbal tasks vs. nonverbal tasks, or tasks based on learned information vs. tasks a child must figure out on the fly, or timed tasks vs. untimed tasks. To a skilled interpreter, an individualized IQ test gives a broad picture of a child’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses.

If you think your homeschooled child is gifted, should you seek testing? Often there is no need. You don’t need “permission” from an IQ test to modify your child’s education. If you think you recognize giftedness, go ahead and act accordingly. If your child seems ready for advanced material, give it a try.

When do I recommend testing? There are several possible situations:

1) When the family is interested in seeking admission to programs like Davidson Young Scholars or PG Retreat, which use IQ testing as one criterion for entry.

2) When there is disagreement between the parents about whether giftedness is present or how to respond to it.

3) When there is significant asynchrony present – that is, when a child is well above average in some areas and at or below average in other areas, so that it’s hard for a parent to know what to expect.

4) When there is a possibility that the child might be twice exceptional – both gifted and learning disabled, or both gifted and struggling with a mental disorder.

5) When the parent is uncomfortable accelerating forward through academic levels without “proof.”

6) When the homeschooling parent is struggling to meet educational needs appropriately or is looking for help dealing with some of the behavioral and emotional factors which are often associated with giftedness.

7) When the family is just curious and testing will not be a financial strain.

To find out more about having your child tested through Minds in Focus, please give me a call at 443-826-9858 or email me at

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