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The WAIS-IV is a test that the SSA uses to measure your intelligence. Normally, the SSA will set up a Psychological Evaluation for you to attend. They call this going to an SSA doctor exam. Learn more about the how to prepare for the SSA’s psychological exam. At the visit, a psychologist will give you a test. You will answer questions and also talk about your education history. For example, did you have a high school diploma or do you have a GED? If you do not have a diploma, then did you drop out of high school? Why did you fail to complete school?

The psychologist may also ask if you were in special education classes during school. Some students are part of a special education program for all of their core classes, like reading, math, and science. Other students are in special classes or have a tutor for a short time due to a learning issue or some other problem. For example, perhaps you had trouble learning to read and you went to a special class for extra help.  Or you might have needed a tutor to help you learn math. The mental exam is the time to explain your education history.

The SSA doesn’t give the WAIS IV test to everyone. If they have you take the test, then there is probably evidence you have an intellectual disorder. The following article explains what the WAIS IV test measures. It also explains what your test scores mean in terms of your intelligence. You can have a low IQ, high IQ, or average IQ. Additionally, you can have a low test score because of a mental illness or head injury.

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The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) is a test that measures your cognitive ability. These areas are important because a low score may mean that you would have trouble on the job. Therefore, the SSA will order an intelligence test for people who have a learning disorder or trouble with comprehension. The WAIS IV test is not for children. It is only for adults who are between the ages of 16 to 90 years old.

The WAIS-IV has a number of different tests that score your intelligence. For example, test results include your Full Scale IQ, Index Scores, and subtest scaled scores. The four Index Scores are Verbal Comprehension (VCI), Working Memory (WMI), Perceptual Reasoning (PRI) and Processing Speed (PSI). Additionally, the WAIS-IV has 10 core subtests and five supplemental subtests. You can take the WAIS IV with paper and pencil or you can take the test online.

The 10 core subtests are: Arithmetic, Block Design, Comprehension, Digit Span, Digit Symbol, Information, Letter-Number Sequencing. Additionally, the test includes Matrix Reasoning, Picture Arrangement, Picture Completion, Processing Speed, Object Assembly, Similarities, Symbol Search, and Vocabulary. Your scores on these subtests determine your four Index scores.


The WAIS IV can capture key elements of your intellectual ability. It measures your language comprehension and working memory. The test also measures your spatial reasoning, problem solving, and processing speed. However, an intelligence test cannot measure everything related to your ability to function in the world. For example, the test does not measure your ability to make friends and get along with your family. It also does not measure other aspects of your intelligence, such as your artistic ability, creativity, and kindness.


Your Full Scale IQ score is an average of the four Index scores on the WAIS IV test. Once again, these are the scores from your Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Organization, Working Memory and Processing Speed tests.

However, the WAIS-IV also has 16 subtests which include: Information, Vocabulary, Arithmetic, Block Design, Picture Completion and Similarities. Additionally the test also includes a Long-Term Memory Index that assesses your ability to remember information over a period of time. There is also a working memory index. A Full Scale IQ score is found by adding the scores from these indices.

The average IQ score on the WAIS IV test is 100. Having a score lower than 100 does not automatically mean you are below average. Instead, you would need to score far below average to obtain the label of “below average.” For example, you would need to score a 70 to have a below average score. On the results of the WAIS IV, 88% of people have an IQ score below 100. While only 2% of people have an IQ score above 140.


The verbal comprehension tests measures your verbal skills. For example, it measures your ability to understand and answer questions. It also measures more abstract abilities, like reasoning, problem solving, and understanding analogies.  It also tests your reading comprehension and problem solving ability. The test is given in the language that you understand, speak, and write in.

Here is a sample question from the exam: “The company has been selling a certain amount of computers each month for three years. If sales this month increase by $2,000, then it will be 11 months since the last time they increased their sales by $1,000.”

  • A. How many months did it take the company to sell $2,000 more than last month?
  • B. What is the percentage increase in sales this month?
  • C. If this month’s sales are $20,000 and next week’s sales are $21,000 what will be next week’s total increase in sales?


Working memory is a cognitive function that includes the temporary storage and manipulation of information. It is a part of long-term memory and it allows you to think about, understand, and act on information. It is one of several functions that are necessary for intelligence. Working memory is normally measured with tasks such as digit span, n-back task, and the Corsi Block Tapping Test.

The term “working memory” was coined by British psychologist George Miller in 1956. Your working memory is important to everyday activities and to achieve goals such as school performance and social adjustment. Your working memory depends on input from different senses, including vision and hearing. You need working memory to complete tasks.

Interestingly, working memory has evolved over time to become more sophisticated. For example, in the late 1800s, scientists found working memory was only able to hold about five items of information at any given time. Now, it can be around eight items. This change allowed for the beginning of new thoughts and perceptions that were previously not possible.


The Perceptual Reasoning tests measure your ability to understand visual stimuli with accuracy and speed. The test is normally done when the intelligence quotient (IQ) is not within a normal range or if they are experiencing other cognitive difficulties. It can be also used as a measure visual acuity.

Perceptual reasoning tests usually involve the subject completing predefined patterns of shapes in sets, each with four or five shapes. The test assesses how quickly those shapes are completed correctly. You usually have only ten to 20 minutes to complete this test.

The tests involve a series of shapes or patterns. The goal is to see how quickly you can complete the test and get at least 80% correct. For example, you might see a pattern of increasing numbers and you need to identify that. Or, you might need to see that the same word appears multiple times or that one single word appeals multiple times in a row. What is being tested is your ability to see these shapes or patterns and do it within a certain time frame.


The Processing Speed test measures how quickly you can perform mental tasks. The faster the processing speed, the higher the IQ.

In one of the tests, called Symbol Search, a person is shown a list of four symbols and must find the symbol that appears three times out of four. The test measures how many seconds it takes to complete. For example, if the time it took was six seconds, that would indicate an IQ score of 90. If the time it took was 20 seconds, that would result in an IQ score of 50.

Suppose someone had an IQ score of 100 with processing speed subtests. This person would be able to find the symbol in less than 4 seconds. If the person had an IQ score of 50 with processing speed subtests, it would take them 20 seconds to find the symbol. Note that these scores are based on how quickly a person can complete a task and are not necessarily how fast someone can think or understand things.

If you have a low processing speed score on the WAIS IV it means that your brain processes information slowly. Therefore, you might struggle with solving problems or understanding new concepts. This would play out in a work setting by not being able to solve issues at work on your own. Additionally, you would have problems learning new tasks at work.

If you have a high processing speed score on the WAIS IV it means that your brain is able to process information quickly. This allows you to make quick decision and be able to problem solve on your own. It also mean you would not have problems doing more complex work tasks and you can learn quickly.

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The idea of the WAIS IV is to provide a deeper look at your mental process. In order to do this, the WAIS IV has 16 subtests: 7 verbal and 5 performance tests.

The verbal tests are Verbal Paired Associates, Vocabulary, Word Fluency, Information, Comprehension and Sentence Completion. The performance tests are Similarities (between words) and Digit Span (number of items you can repeat in order). Also, there is a test known as Digit Symbol Coding/Digit Symbol-Coding Compatibility (number of items you can match to a symbol).  Finally, there is Block Design (how many squares can you draw) and Object Assembly (how many objects you can complete).


The Similarities (between words) test provides a list of words and it is your job to pick out the two words that are most similar. The subtest was developed to measure non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand abstract visual information.


The Digit Span test is considered to be among the most useful of the WAIS IV performance tests. This test consists of 3 sets: Digit Span Backward, Digit Span Forwards, and Digit Span Both Hands. The task is to repeat as many digits as possible in order, using the left and right hands (i.e., 1-24 with the left hand, 25-48 with the right hand).


The Digit Symbol Coding/Digit Symbol-Coding Compatibility test (number of items you can match to a symbol) measures your ability to code words from left to right. The Digit Symbol test presents a series of symbols for you to assign to numbers. Numbers are given to your in the form 0-9 and words are presented in the form A-C. Your job on the test is to identify the number of words that go along with each symbol. This test is often used to screen for a mental condition that affects language production and processing.


The Block Design test is a test of abstract thinking, visual problem solving, and spatial reasoning. It is used to measure your ability to mentally place objects in space and is often given as part of a group intelligence test. This test measures the time it takes to solve a series of five blocks. The first block is placed on a table in front of the test taker and the other four are arranged in various ways around and above it. One at a time, each of the remaining three blocks must be removed from their original position until only one remains on the table. The person then has two minutes to determine if any two adjacent blocks can be removed without changing either one.


The “Object Assembly” test measures your ability to understand spatial relationships and put together objects in a given time. For example, on the Object Assembly test you will see a room with various objects in it and a time limit for picking up each of these objects. When your time expires, you must move on to the next part of the test.


The WAIS IV measures your ability to understand what you read and your ability to do basic math. The SSA uses the test to find out if you have an intellectual disability. There is no way to prepare for the test if you have an mental condition that impacts your thinking skills. For example, you cannot prepare for the test if you have a mental condition like dementia. Likewise, there is no way to improve your test scores if you have a brain injury that impacts your memory. Because measures of learning, memory, and processing speed are the areas that are most sensitive to traumatic brain injury (TBI).

However, if you do not have these issues, you can prepare for a WAIS IV test by doing the following:

  • – Reviewing vocabulary words
  • – Doing math problems
  • – Studying the concepts that are likely to appear on the test


Malingering occurs when you try to cheat the exam. Normally, people who try to cheat the exam are trying to avoid work or they are trying to win financial compensation, like Social Security benefits. Malingerers are aware that their claims are false and they plan to answer falsely on the WAIS IV test. This is not proper behavior. We advise you not to try to cheat on the WAIS IV.

You cannot trick the test or the psychologist. If you do not do your best on the WAIS IV, the psychologist will document it. For example, if you start answering simple questions with the answer, “I don’t know,” then that is a sign that you are not doing your best. Likewise, making simple mistakes on math problems would be another give away that you are not giving your best effort.

If you try to cheat the exam or fail to do your best, then you hurt your chances of winning benefits. Additionally, your honesty will be in question. If that occurs, then the judge will not believe your statements about your mental or physical health. If the judge doesn’t believe you when you are talking about your symptoms, then you have no hope of winning your SSDI and SSI benefits. Please read about your IQ and winning SSDI and SSI benefits.


We recommend you hire a lawyer with the experience to win your SSDI and SSI case. When you have a lawyer, you can talk to them before your WAIS IV test. Your lawyer can ensure you don’t forget to mention how your mental health affects your ability to work. Our law firm can help your prepare for your mental exam and file your SSD application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application.


At Cannon Disability Law, our Salt Lake City Social Security lawyers have won over 20,000 SSDI and SSI cases. Also, in 30 years we have won over $100 million in back due and ongoing benefits for our clients. You are three times more likely to win your benefits if you hire an attorney. However, you need to hire an attorney who has legal experience and understands the law. You should also hire an attorney to help prepare you for your psychological exam with the SSA.

If you have a mental or physical condition that prevents you from working for over 12 months, then we can help win your benefits. You can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits on Social Security’s website. If you need help filing your claim, call us today. Every day you wait to file your claim is a day you lose money. Because SSI benefits begin on the date of your application. Read here, if you need more information about filing for benefits for an intellectual disability.

Contact us today. Take advantage of our free review of your case. Call and we will answer your questions. You can explain why your mental condition prevents you from working. We will be able to tell you if you qualify for benefits. Likewise, we can also tell you if you have a good chance of winning benefits.


If you want to learn more about the lawyers and staff at our law firm, then read our About Us page. There you will find more information about each of our attorneys and our staff. For example, Andria Summers can help you with your Medicare plan. Likewise, she has also won thousands of Social Security cases.

Dianna Cannon also has over 30 years of experience helping her clients win benefits in court. Ms. Cannon also has law licenses in a number of states. For example, she has law licenses in California, Utah, Nevada, and Washington State. If you need help filing for benefits or you need to appeal a decision from the SSA, contact our firm. If you need information about filing for benefit in CaliforniaUtah SSDI benefits information is here on our website. Likewise, you can learn more about Nevada SSD and SSI benefits. We can help you no matter where you live.

Additionally, Brett Bunkall has experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. He is also has a license to practice law in Utah and from the Idaho State Bar Association. Find out more about SSD benefits in Idaho. Similarly, all of our lawyers and staff are Social Security law experts. We want to help you get the benefits that you deserve. Additionally, we have years of experience reading IQ tests and using that information in court to win SSDI cases.

Put our experience to work for you. Call us if you need help with your SSDI and SSI application. If SSA denied your case, call us and we will see if we can help you. Also, if you have questions about the WAIS IV, we can help. We will answer your questions for free. Contact Cannon Disability Law today.

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